Year Released: 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 90 minutes
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“Little Deaths” is another in a long line of horror anthologies. Comprised of three tales by the distorted minds of writer/directors Sean Hogan, Andrew Parkison and Simon Rumley, each who wrote and directed their own section. We are presented with a trilogy of shorts that explore various relationships centered on extreme sexual situations and our connections to others. None of the directors shies away from displaying shocking imagery, not to say that “Little Deaths” is dependent on this to titillate, as each story presents something interesting beyond the urination, gore, or nudity.
The first selection, “House & Home,” from writer/director Sean Hogan, tells the tale of an upper class couple who lure a homeless girl to their house. Richard (Luke de Lacey) and Victoria (Siubhan Harrison) are attractive and well off, but clearly have relationship issues. Once Sorrow (Holly Lucas, “Bronson”), a girl from the streets, is lured to the house with a promise of a warm meal, a nice bath, and some money in her pocket, the story takes a darker turn, twisting to an unexpected ending. Richard’s evil comes from a purely primal place, something seen in movies hundreds of times before, but more compelling is Victoria’s character. She’s a woman who has it all and yet is an active participant in the sick sex games that unfold in “House & Home.” Her declaration is that because of her stature in life she deserves to do what she wants, a realization that is unsettling and yet believable. De Lacey and Harrison give disturbingly subdued performances, and Hogan’s over the top use of sexual situations make for some squirm inducing moments, but they never fail to entertain.
If the first selection was not extreme enough, “Little Deaths” presents Andrew Parkinson’s “Mutant Tool,” a short that presents more imagery than substance. If you are like me (and clearly Parkinson) and enjoy a childish pun, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word tool is a penis, you would be right. Jen (Jodie Jameson) is trying to make ends meet by working for her drug dealer boyfriend, Frank (Daniel Brocklebank), and moonlights as a prostitute. Her life is not easy and under Frank’s influence she visits a therapist, Dr. Reece (Brendan Gregory) who prescribes a bottle of pills that cause the minor side effects of hallucinations and headaches. What is unveiled next is a background story about Nazis, mutants, a science experiment and Jen’s connection to what is happening. This is the one interesting idea in the story, but yet it’s never fully explored. Instead, Parkinson has it spat out in a conversation between a scientist and his new employee in a basement of a hospital. While the imagery we are given is shocking, the hospital scenes in particular conjuring the same feel as Nacho Cerdà’s “Aftermath,” the story in “Mutant Tool” feels slapped together and drags on. However, everything is not all bad. Jameson’s impassioned performance is worth noting as the disturbed woman undergoing a horrific connection to evils surrounding her.
The final story from writer/director Simon Rumley (“Red White & Blue”) and easily the best of the trio is “Bitch,” a title that is multi-faceted. It applies to Clarie’s (Kate Braithwaite) attitude, as much as it does to the dog fetish she shares with her boyfriend Pete (Tom Sawyer). Claire suffers from a paralyzing fear of canines, but in her sex life dominates Pete by having him in a dog face mask, collared, nude, and on his knees. They attempt to have her conquer her fear via their perversions and while the frank nature of their sexual play can be shocking (and even quite funny), the interactions between the two are ultimately very sweet. They say there is someone for everyone and you can only imagine how these two characters came together, how they ended up with a human sized dog house in their apartment, and a collar around Pete’s neck. As with any love story, all is not roses and puppy love and what transpires in the third act is quite despicable. Without strong characters “Bitch” could fall flat but hefted by some fantastic, uninhibited performances from Sawyer and Braithwaite, we end up with an involving, sometimes charming and ultimately ugly love story. Between “Bitch” and “Red White & Blue,” it appears Rumley is exploring failed relationships and the extremes those who are shunned will enact to feel some sense of closure. If he keeps producing stories of this quality he will continue to be a director worth keeping an eye on in the future.
“Little Deaths” is not for those easily offended by shots of penises, female nudity, gore, graphic sexual situations, or violence. For those that can handle it, it offers two entertaining stories, and one marred by some dull moments. It continues the grand tradition of UK horror anthologies, but offers updated psycho-sexual tales that touch on the nature of relationships, revenge, and sorrow.
Posted on March 12, 2011 in Reviews by Noah Lee
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