Movie Review: Little Evil

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Some people might refer to their stepchildren as evil. But what happens when your stepchild is the literal Antichrist? Little Evil seeks to answer this question, in hilarious fashion.

Little Evil follows Greg (Adam Scott), who has just married Sam (Evangeline Lilly). When he moves into the home she shares with her son, Lucas (Owen Atlas) he notices that there’s something a bit…off about him. Mainly, he never speaks directly to Gary (preferring to speak through a creepy goat puppet), and on their first meeting he gives Gary a handful of earth worms. Oh, plus there’s the fact the he makes a clown set himself on fire at his birthday party.

You know, normal kid stuff.

Eventually he comes to the realization that Lucas is, in fact, the Antichrist, and he has to figure out how to deal with that.

The film, which is a Netflix original, is directed by Eli Craig, who you may know as the director of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Much like his previous film, this one takes a horror subgenre and flips the tropes on their head: Tucker & Dale did this with the slasher film, while Little Evil takes on religious and supernatural horror, seeming to take particular inspiration from The Omen.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t references to other horror movies sprinkled throughout, however. One scene in particular, where Lucas has his hand against a static-filled TV screen, is a clear homage to Poltergeist, and a scene where Sam talks about how Lucas was conceived is reminiscent of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby. We also see a pair of creepy twins, like in The Shining. There are some shots of a long hallway that remind me of Kubrik’s film as well.

The performances here are spot on. Adam Scott, who you may remember from the comedy Parks & Recreation, tends to do very well as an average Joe (though slightly henpecked) type of character, though he is no stranger to the horror genre either.

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Here he is in Hellraiser IV, a movie in which he had very silly hair.

Evangeline Lilly also puts in a good turn as the loving yet somewhat oblivious Sam, and Owen Lucas manages to be somehow adorable and terrifying at the same time. My favorite character in the movie, however, is probably Al (Bridget Everett), Gary’s very butch friend from work who is also a “stepdad.” She has probably some of the funniest lines in the movie.

Which brings me to another point: in a number of horror comedies, they tend to forget the horror bit. This movie, however, does not. There are a number of scenes which are actually quite tense, like one where Gary has a nightmare involving pulling earthworms out of his noise, or where he’s looking for Lucas and the lights suddenly go out and he turns to see the word “rapture” written backwards on a wall (in another homage to The Shining).

Beyond that, however, there are some actually rather touching moments in the film, which towards the end kind of starts to explore what it means to be a parent (step or otherwise).

In conclusion, I highly recommend this movie. The performances are great, it has excellent cinematography, and strikes a pretty good balance between scary and funny.

 

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