Directed by Sean Hogan (House and Home), Andrew Parkinson (Mutant Tool), Simon Rumley (Bitch)
For whatever reason, the UK has always ruled the realm of the ever-expanding collection of horror anthologies throughout the years. In a US versus UK scenario, we can be proud of recent output such as Trick ‘r Treat and Creepshow, but with EC Comics-based classics like The Vault of Horror and 1972’s Tales from the Crypt, the scales certainly weigh in favorably for the gents on the other side of the pond.
Given the rich history the UK currently enjoys and the long line of horror anthology predecessors, the latest addition to the movement, Little Deaths, is certainly the sickest of the bunch – and that’s saying something. Enjoying its North American premiere Friday night at SXSW at the esteemed Alamo Drafthouse, this downright dirty triptych – whose only connection lies in the shocking sexual deviance on display – will have you re-examining your romantic relationships and questioning your curiosity for kink.
Sean Hogan is first up to the plate with “House and Home” and the old adage certainly applies here. Richard (Luke de Lacey) and Victoria (Siubhan Harrison) aren’t what you’d call happily married, and their boredom in the bedroom leads the Christian couple to invite a homeless woman named Sorrow (Holly Lucas) into their home for a nice meal and a hot bath. Unfortunately for Sorrow, Richard and Victoria aren’t exactly the good samaritans they appear to be, but their house guest might end up being more than they bargained for.
Andrew Parkinson’s “Mutant Tool” is the segment that would make the best full-length feature, mostly because of its demented creativity and the fact that a peculiar psychic connection between two of the characters doesn’t make much sense and needs to be further explained. Jen (Jodie Jameson) is a recovering drug addict and former prostitute whose boyfriend and ex-pimp convinces her to take a strange medication. This leads Jen to start forming a preternatural link with the man with the “Mutant Tool” – an imprisoned figure whose massive organ is being harvested as a very powerful drug (you just can’t make this up). What transpires is absolutely horrifying, which is precisely why Parkinson’s entry is the most memorable even if it’s not the one that’s the most fun.
Whether it’s “Bishop’s Battle” in Nightmares or “The Raft” in Creepshow 2, there’s always a stand-out in an anthology series, and Simon Rumley’s “Bitch” is it. Pete (Tom Sawyer) is being absolutely dominated and humiliated by his girlfriend Claire (Kate Braithwaite), who forces him to act like a dog while she penetrates him with a strap-on. To each his own, but once Claire starts being a little too flirtatious with a mutual friend, Pete decides to turn Claire’s abnormal fear of canines into her worst nightmare.
Because of its gruesomeness, Little Deaths feels like more of an American entry into the horror anthology canon. Taking the elements that work in modern horror and condensing them down into a shorter running time allows the filmmakers to get right all the nasty bits without all that needless exposition. Anthologies work best when each story sets up a disturbing premise, establishes the victim, and then turns the tables on the wicked. While everyone is sure to have their favorite, each segment in Little Deaths delivers the goods.
3 out of 5
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