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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look: 30.77%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad53.85%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 7 user ratings

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Wicked Little Things
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by Jay Seaver

"Wicked... wicked dull."
2 stars

Horror filmmakers have come up with some pretty lame excuses for vengeful spirits over the years, but just as often, it's not really the idea that's weak, but the implementation. "Wicked Little Things" has all the makings of a good ghost story; the trouble is that it wants gore as opposed to shivers.

The prologue gives us good reason for a haunting, as a group of small children working in a Pennsylvania coal mine at the turn of the twentieth century are trapped during a cave-in. Ninety years later, Karen Tunny (Lori Heuring) and her two girls, Sarah (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Emma (Chloe Moretz) have inherited a house near the tapped mine from Sarah's late husband. It needs a lot of work, and teenage Sarah hates being out in the middle of nowhere. There are other complications - a weird neighbor (Ben Cross), and the descendant of the mine owner is telling them to vacate the house because the Tunny's "miner's deed" is only good while the mine was open, and he's looking to develop the mountain into a ski resort. And, of course, few of the other dead children are nearly as nice as Emma's new imaginary friend.

Creepy ghost kids haunting the adult descendants of the people who made them work and die in a mine, I'm down for. It's a great idea. What's not so great an idea is having them crave raw flesh (although they'll generally shy away from eating family). It raises the inevitable question of just how much of the surrounding livestock and population has been eaten if the little buggers have shown up every night for the past ninety years, or, alternately, why they're showing up now. It's probably related to the mine-owner's descendant being in town, but one of the locals certainly seems to be fairly used to dealing with zombie kids. But even then, what's a penchant for eating the living got to do with being killed in a cave-in? If they were tunneling underneath things and planting explosives, yeah, that would be fitting and scary, but having them just sink their teeth into something alive is just pedestrian.

It's hard to link "zombie children" and "pedestrian", but that's what the film manages. These kids are just regular zombies, only smaller. They don't act like regular kids at any point, so there's never any real feeling that the characters can't fight back because the monsters are just children. So it's not particularly uncomfortable when someone takes out a pistol and starts shooting at them, since that's just how you deal with zombies. This is in part because the costuming department has them in dark clothing that fits just a little bit too well, and is a bit too obviously menacing, for children so poor their families needed them working in the mines. They also never talk; Emma just says what she hears from her friend.

The filmmakers do a good enough job with the standard horror movie parts. The abandoned mine is an eerie enough environment that I wish they'd done a little more with it, and the house that the Tullys inherit is believably run-down. When the wee zombies start digging in, it looks good enough for me to get a bit squeamish (though, admittedly, I'm kind of easy that way). The script's weakness is mostly being uninspired; it's not obviously stupid in most places. The laziness grates, mostly - you've got four teens parked in a car in the middle of nowhere because it's time for some random victims, and there's a gruff loner who knows how to deal with monsters because that's what the story needs. The human villain is more obnoxious than genuinely evil, and the finale is too deliberately calculated to solve the Tullys' financial woes.

We do like the Tullys well enough, even if they're all people we've seen a million times before. Lori Heuring is fine as the worried-but-not-given-to-total-panic mother who's still young enough to serve as eye candy for those a bit past ogling teenagers. For the crowd that's okay with the youngsters, Scout Taylor-Compton is there to do the running and screaming. Chloe Moretz is cute without being obnoxious about it. The other teens Sarah meets up with are sadly generic, though, nothing but zombie-fodder. Geoffrey Lewis is grumpy as the mean developer, and Ben Cross barely breaks a sweat as the ridiculous old guy who covers doors with blood to keep demon children from entering. The latter two are far too restrained in parts that desperately require scenery-chewing.

Frankly, you could say that about the whole production. It ticks off notches on its horror-movie checklist without ever giving a thought to what would make it stand out from the crowd. From what I've read, "Wicked Little Things" started out as an almost completely different movie, and aside from the name change (the original script was simply titled "Zombies"), almost every other revision must have served to homogenize it.

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originally posted: 12/06/06 15:12:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 After Dark Horrorfest For more in the 2006 After Dark Horrorfest series, click here.

User Comments

8/08/07 Travis B I Actually REALLY enjoyed it, not scary..more like..suspenseful <3 5 stars
8/02/07 Kirstin Not so scary and not very original. To-Children-of-the-Corn-esque. Kids were cute though. 4 stars
6/17/07 Eric G Finally, a good scary movie.... 4 stars
5/19/07 Amy R The plot needed more work -but it was eerie 4 stars
5/08/07 Tracey Chambers I was sooo disappointed. scary-no. creepy-yes 3 stars
11/21/06 Kelly Blah...this movie sucked. 2 stars
11/20/06 malcolm creepy and gory, scary little bastards 4 stars
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  17-Nov-2006 (R)
  DVD: 27-Mar-2007



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