LITTLE EVIL (2017)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Directed by: Eli Craig

Written by: Eli Craig

Starring: Adam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, Sally Field, Clancy Brown, Bridgett Everett, Tyler Labine, Carla Gallo & Owen Atlas

Eli Craig made his feature directorial debut with TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL, a hilarious horror comedy that spun the slasher stereotypes on their head. Craig has now followed up that acclaimed indie hit with another horror comedy spoof, but this flick is receiving a lukewarm reaction from most folks and has gone straight-to-Netflix. Rest assured, LITTLE EVIL is a good time. This film has its flaws, but I was giggling and cracking up from beginning to end. Craig has made a pitch-perfect OMEN parody that has lots of laughs, fun, and a couple of unexpected surprises.

Gary Bloom (Adam Scott) has recently married his new wife Samantha (Evangeline Lilly) and life seems to be going pretty swell for him. However, he is struggling to be a new stepfather towards Samantha’s creepy son Lucas (Owen Atlas). Lucas has a goat puppy and seems to have a (literally) painful influence on people around him. After his teacher impales herself on the school fence and a birthday party clown attempts to burn himself alive, Gary becomes concerned that Lucas may be the antichrist and attempts to solve this unusual parenting problem before any more bodies pile up…or worse, the end of the world arrives. As you might imagine, many laughs and nods to classic horror flicks ensue.

I didn’t exactly have high expectations for LITTLE EVIL. I loved TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL, but the response that Craig’s sophomore effort has received thus far was a tad disheartening. After sitting through this horror-comedy, I walked away pleasantly surprised. LITTLE EVIL has a few jokes that fall flat and mostly follows a predictable line of storytelling, but there’s also an oddly heartfelt center and goofy laughs that legitimately work. I was constantly engaged through the perfectly paced 95-minute running time and had a lot of fun watching this film.

Adam Scott is usually hit or miss for me. When he’s in the right material (NTSF: SD: SUV and STEP BROTHERS), he’s a show-stealing delight. When he’s in the wrong material (HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2), he’s aggravating to behold. LITTLE EVIL very much gives Scott a likable protagonist to work with. This main character is saddled with a long list of conflicts that all ensue from his new antichrist stepson, like: feeling responsible for deaths and injury, being seen as a possibly abusive parent, facing almost certain death at the hands of his stepkid, and possibly having to kill a child and ruin his marriage forever. You can’t help but feel sorry for this guy and Scott gets a lot of mileage out of this as a result.

On the supporting side of things, Evangeline Lilly is hilarious as Lucas’s oblivious mother who views her child’s more sinister traits as personality quirks, sees his demonic drawings as creative art, and is quick to blame everybody except her own satanic spawn. There are scenes in which Lilly’s character gets the biggest laughs in the entire movie. Owen Atlas nails the soft-spoken 6-year-old antichrist, coming off like an exact clone of THE OMEN’s Damien. Tyler Labine is in one hilarious scene as a concerned wedding photographer, another clear nod towards the original OMEN. Though they aren’t in the film much, Sally Field is quite funny as a family counselor and Clancy Brown is fun as a strange reverend.

The moments where LITTLE EVIL falls flat are mainly due to Bridget Everett as Gary’s insufferable best friend, co-worker, and fellow “stepdad.” Everett just seems like she’s trying way too hard to get laughs and her character is obnoxious beyond belief. Though she might elicit chuckles from certain viewers, I just found her annoying and she sucked some joy away from certain moments. Everett isn’t the only problem though, because most of LITTLE EVIL is fairly predictable. You can pretty much see where this is all going, because it’s following the plot of THE OMEN with a few changes. Two of these changes are cool twists that move things in a different direction that I wasn’t expecting at all, but these don’t occur until the film’s final third.

I imagine that viewers familiar with THE OMEN, the original POLTERGEIST, and THE SHINING will likely enjoy LITTLE EVIL more than viewers who are uninitiated to those titles. This is a goofy horror spoof that has many funny scenes and keeps things upbeat with an oddly heartwarming turn. The plot is predictable for the most part, save for two twists that make the film more enjoyable. Everett’s character is painfully unfunny, but nearly everybody else nails their roles and earn laughs as a result. LITTLE EVIL is a simple, entertaining horror comedy and I recommend it to horror fans who also want some laughter during this Halloween season!

Grade: B