Little Evil (2017) Review
Parody of child horror movies has a few well-earned laughs.
Little Evil is a 2017 horror/comedy about a man who has just married the woman of his dreams, only to discover that her six-year-old son may be the actual Antichrist.
Movies are full of precocious kids who are little devils per se, many who really are, from The Omen to Problem Child and more, the trope well played out, which is probably why director Eli Craig took to it in the first place, looking to reinvent the genre. It’s certainly in need of it, and Little Evil has its fun with expectations, even paroding things a bit, as it bats around just about every evil child cliché in the book.
Gary (Adam Scott) has found the perfect wife, a beautiful young woman named Samantha (Evangeline Lilly), with whom he feels he can finally have the life he’s longed for. She comes with a little baggage though, a five-year-old son named Lucas (Owen Atlas), who is, let’s say, a bit off. He rarely speaks and just kind of stares with heavy eyes. But things get weirder when his elementary school teacher flings herself out the window and impales herself. Or when his birthday clown sets himself on fire. Or when looking back at the wedding video that was disrupted by a tornado, it finds the priest speaking in tongues. Is it the end of times? Or all a misunderstanding?
Craig, who also wrote the screenplay, is perhaps best known for Tucker & Dale vs Evil, a very smart and funny take on slasher films. Here, he looks to skewer the possessed child sub-genre and for much of it, makes it work with some funny moments that hit the mark. It’s never quite as edgy as it should be, but it’s lifted by a slew of very good performances and a cavalcade of nods to a bunch of horror films. Craig throws in everything he can to prop up the premise and while some feel like filler, many are twisty enough to earn some laughs. It’s never meant to be taken seriously of course, but for fans of the genre, there’s plenty here to keep you on your toes.
Those include shots of Lucas in front of the TV like little Carol Anne in Poltergeist to the twins in The Shining to the biggest running gag of how Lucas is dressed like Damien in The Omen. There’s plenty that’s new too but designed to copy what we’ve seen before, from shadowy halls and jump scares to religious zealots and satanic rituals. There’s even some surprising gore thrown in for good measure, and while it has all the markings of a real horror movie, it’s all played for laughs. Scott is dead on as the exasperated step-father, who is way out of league in trying to raise a kid and the film plays with both horror and family fears. Atlas is well-cast and even with his goat puppet, has an endearing quality.
Look for a few funny cameos from the likes of Clancy Brown, Donald Faison, and even Sally Field, all of whom manage to get the most from their limited screen time, though Bridget Everett absolutely is the more energetic. The film takes an expected turn in the third act and delivers its larger, familial message, mixing parenting and Satan in some often amusing moments, however it lacks a bit of momentum in parts and as clever as much of it is, isn’t innovate enough to really break the mold. Not nearly as fun as Tucker & Dale vs Evil, it is nonetheless very entertaining and good for a few solid laughs.
Little Evil (2017) Review
Movie description: Little Evil is a 2017 horror/comedy about a man who has just married the woman of his dreams, only to discover that her six-year-old son may be the actual Antichrist.
Director(s): Eli Craig
Actor(s): Evangeline Lilly, Adam Scott, Clancy Brown