Lionsgate // 2006 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 1st, 2007
Prey for them.
Another of the "Eight Films to Die For" from the After Dark Horrorfest, Wicked Little Things plays the creepy-ass-undead-killer-children card for maximum chills.
Karen Tunny (Lori Heuring) is a recent widow, poor as dirt, and looking to start a new life. She has dragged her two daughters, Sarah (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Emma (Chloe Moretz) up to the woods in hopes of renovating an inherited old house, selling it and getting her hands on some much needed money. Unfortunately, the house happens to be located on land that is swarming with undead child miners (miner minors!), resurrected after being buried alive in a mining accident.
Emma is the first to come in contact with these hellspawn demon kids and -- surprise! -- her mom doesn't believe that there are crazy ghost children running around. As the bodies pile up, she starts to realize that there might be some logic to the insane ravings of her goofy kid.
Yeah, I wasn't feeling this one, dawg. While there were a handful of memorable moments, the sum total of the experience of Wicked little Things is this: been there done that. The biggest downside of the film is its familiar story and the numerous horror clichés that strewn within. Operative word here, kids: cliché.
The freakish ghost kid is really popular these days, especially with advent of J-horror racking up the yen over here in U.S. The Grudge, The Ring and the respective sequels, all banked their coin on the backs of weird-looking kids doing weird things and occasionally killing people. Wicked Little Things blends all the characteristics from the murderous-kid playbook (sinister grins, robotic movements, black wardrobe) and...does nothing terribly interesting with them.
The big problem lies with the story. Protective mother worries about her daughter who starts talking about an imaginary friend as if she were real, doesn't come around until it's too late, there's a dark secret lurking in the past, the killer kids have a score to settle, there's an eccentric hillbilly lucid enough to untangle complex ghost mythology, the other daughter is a pain-in-the-butt Lindsay Lohan wannabe who struggles with the fact that her mother just doesn't understand and she starts hanging out with some new teen friends who may or not be slaughtered in the course of making out with each other and no one listens to the grizzled old coot running the general store. There are, however, scenes of children eating the entrails of a pig.
Really, these sporadic sequences of children a) perpetrating unspeakable violence on people or b) having unspeakable violence perpetrated upon them serve as the only memorable components in an otherwise mediocre construction. Following an extended lull crammed with exposition and contrived suspense, the action picks up -- finally -- in the last 20 minutes or so as the Killer Kidz start tearing @#$% up. Because they're the undead leftovers of the children killed in a mining accident, they do their damage with pickaxes and shovels, leading to much blood spurting and impaling. As a bonus, they've got a taste for flesh, and we're treated to multiple shots of the kiddos chowing down on the guts of their prey; the sequence where they cannibalize one of the teenage boys...yeah, that's gross, I'll give them that much. The tables turn during the big finale, a set-piece involving the kids raiding a barn and our heroes emptying shotgun blasts into their torsos. It's not graphic to level of Beware Children at Play but any time you've got kids getting blown away by gunfire -- undead flesh-eaters or not -- it's unsettling.
That's about all that's of interest. The film is riddled with genre conventions and while entertaining at some points, it ultimately flounders as a unique horror experience. The disc is lean, though sound technically: a sharp 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen that holds its own during the extended dark scenes and an active 5.1 digital audio. Director J.S. Cardone and actress Lori Heuring deliver a commentary track, the disc's only extra feature.
Wicked Little Things is aggressively mediocre. If you dig seeing zombie kids eating fake intestines this might be your bag. If not, congratulations, you don't scare the crap out of me.
Guilty of featuring soulless children as creepy as the ones from The Polar Express.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Director's Commentary