Here’s a quirky little film I read about late last year and came on the scene under the radar. LITTLE DEATHS is an anthology film, but not like you’re thinking. We get three short films from three writer-directors, but they aren’t connected by a common “wrap-around” story. They’re connected only in theme alone. What’s the theme? I’m glad you asked. These three stories, we’re promised, are “unified by the twin themes of sex and death.” Of the three short films, one hits it outta the ball park, one hits an in-field double, and one strikes out.
The first story, “House and Home,” is written and directed by Sean Hogan (who wrote the screenplay SUMMER’S MOON; see my review here). The story focuses on a rich and religious couple Richard and Victoria (Luke de Lacey and Siubhan Harrison respectively) who appear as do-gooders but actually have very different plans in store for their charity cases. They pick up young and sexy homeless girls (because we all know there’s plenty of them laying around), bring them back to their flat and ply them with drugged wine. But their latest victim Sorrow (Holly Lucas) isn’t as innocent as she at first seems.
“House and Home” is the in-field double of the batch. The acting is pretty good all around and it moves along at a brisk pace. The twist near the end won’t be all that surprising to horror fans, but it works … kind of. The biggest problem I had with this one was the writing. It’s not bad, but Hogan really missed a great opportunity to elevate this short above the usual like-minded themes films. There was a definite metaphor that was completely ignored here. There was a sharp divide here between the rich, kinky, religious do-gooders (who were in the upper echelons of society) and the filthy, “no good” homeless “dregs of society” (who the rich couple looked down on). There’s a metaphor here for the way the various classes treat each other that was completely ignored. But what this lacked in story it made up for with pretty decent gore.
The second entry, “Mutant Tool,” has the best title by far. Written and directed by Andrew Parkinson (who wrote-directed I, ZOMBIE and DEAD CREATURES), “Mutant Tool” takes the kitchen sink approach to storytelling. We get a mysterious subject who is bound up in a basement being force fed a diet of liquid human kidney’s which somehow gives him super sperm which a crazy doctor, Dr. Reece (Brendan Gregory), is harvesting to make some kind of pill to sell on the black market that not even he knows what it does. Oh yeah; did I mention that this procedure was based on Nazi experiments? Yeah, this one is all over the place.
We then follow around Jen (Jodie Jameson), an ex-junkie and whore, who’s trying to stay clean and find a normal job. She’s living with her boy friend/ex-pimp Frank (Daniel Brocklebank) who is using her to still sell drugs. Jen goes to Dr. Reece and tells him that her urges to go back on drugs is still really strong. So he gives her the pills made out of the super sperm (hey why not? It might be good for curbing urges). The pills don’t work, they make Jen really horny so she goes back to whoring (as well as doing coke), and then there’s a really confusing and ridiculous twist.
Real simple; “Mutant Tool” just doesn’t work. The story is a muddled and confusing mess and the story really doesn’t fit the theme of LITTLE DEATHS. Sure there’s a sex scene of Jen as she’s whoring, but it feels very tagged on, like Parkinson added it in at the last minute to try and get some sex into the story and make it eligible for LITTLE DEATHS. “Mutant Tool” is definitely the weakest story of the three.
So I wasn’t feeling too positive going into the last story, “Bitch.” I’m glad I stuck in there. Written and directed by Simon Rumley, who wrote and directed the pretty impressive THE LIVING AND THE DEAD. “Bitch” begins with a peak into the (a-hem) domestic bliss of couple Pete (Tom Sawyer) and Claire.(Kate Braithwaite). Their relationship is, you could say, strained and is one based on power and domination. You’d think the title was referring to Claire, but then in a shocking scene we see that Pete is living in a big doghouse in the living room and eats out of a dog dish and even has a doggie mask for those “special” times they have together.
As the story unfolds Pete finally grows to have enough of Claire’s bullshit and he devises a plan to take back the power in their relationship … and boy does he!! That’s all I’m gonna say about this one. “BItch,” you’ll realize soon after it begins, is the most mature of the three stories in both writing and directing. Rumley really tells a compelling story that has you guessing and trying to figure out what Pete is up too. Once we see his plan to regain the dominant role in the relationship, you’ll be speechless and dumbfounded. It’s a fantastic ending that will shock the shit outta you!! “Bitch” makes watching LITTLE DEATHS completely worthwhile.
LITTLE DEATHS is overall enjoyable. The first story will entertain you even if it is a little predictable. Just skip the second story all together (trust me), and then be prepared to be blown away by the third entry. LITTLE DEATHS is a fun anthology film marked by a weak second act but more than makes up for it in the final story. Check it out.
Directors: Sean Hogan, Andrew Parkinson, & Simon Rumley (each also wrote their own films)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars for #1; 1 out of 5 for #2; 4 out of 5 for #3
Gore: 7 out of 10 skulls for #1; 4.5 out of 10 for #2; 0 out of 10 for #3
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains for all three stories
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer