Wicked Little Things (2006)

Wicked Little Things (click for larger image)Starring Lori Heuring, Scout Taylor-Compton, Chloe Moretz, Geoffrey Lewis

Directed by J. S. Cardone

Distributed by After Dark Films and Lionsgate Home Entertainment

I went in this one with the lowest possible expectations for a few reasons, the largest among them being that Cardone, for those unaware, was the man who inflicted The Forsaken on us a few years back. He’s not done much since, but the fact that he stepped into Tobe Hooper’s shoes to make this film (the Master was originally set to direct this under the title Zombies) didn’t make me feel any better.

Perhaps it’s because of those low expectations that I enjoyed Wicked Little Things so much then. It’s gory, has a good pace, and is full of decent, if not exactly exceptional, characters.

A recently widowed mom, Lori (Heuring), learns after the death of her husband that he had property in the mountains of Pennsylvania and decides to relocate with her two daughters to try and start a new life. The kids aren’t thrilled when they see the house, which has apparently been abandoned for years, but they’re all determined to make the best of it.

The oldest daughter, Sarah (Taylor-Compton), meets some local kids who tell her the legend about a group of zombie kids who wander the mountain every night looking for vengeance. Years ago a mining accident caused a cave in, trapping over a dozen children alive underground; now they just want a bit of payback on the man who ordered the explosion. Of course his family still owns the entire mountain and all the houses on it, including Lori’s, so there’s a good chance those kids are going to get their much sought-after revenge before the final reel.

Wicked Little Things Review (click for larger image)Before long the three ladies realize that the stories are way more than just that, witnessing the horrible things these kids are capable of first-hand. The youngest daughter, Emma, actually claims to have befriended one of the dead girls, who used to live in their house, but that doesn’t do anything to protect them when all hell breaks loose.

First and foremost what I appreciated here was that, even though the main characters weren’t aware of it right away, the audience knows without much hesitation that these kids are, indeed, the real thing. They really do stalk the woods at night looking for new victims, usually satiated by a local man who puts some live pigs out for them to destroy and ingest, which makes for some of the nastiest stuff I’ve seen kids do on camera in a long time. If they had tried to keep the kids hidden in shadows or possible figments of our characters imaginations, it would’ve annoyed me quite a bit.

There’s not really a lot to the story, which may or may not be a good thing depending on you expectations, but I appreciated its simplicity for what it was. WLT is definitely a different kind of zombie story in that these aren’t just shambling undead ghouls; they’re black-eyed, remorseless, and (possibly their freakiest feature) silent monstrosities who desire revenge on one particular person but have no qualms about unleashing their rage on whatever living, breathing entity happens to be close.

Don’t get me wrong though. Wicked Little Things is far from a perfect moment. Most of the people I saw it with didn’t enjoy it at all, but I really think it’s because of my low expectations that I was able to take something more away from it. Or maybe I just really like the idea of zombie kids; I could watch that shit all day, especially when they really get to tearing their victims apart. I guess it’s because I don’t have kids that I can enjoy it so much…

Essentially what we have here is a movie that feels a lot like a Sci Fi Channel original (down to the Romanian locales filling in for Pennsylvania) with a bit more gore and a better storyline. Wicked Little Things isn’t going to change the face of horror or make anyone re-think their lives, but it is a fun undead romp with very attractive girls (oh, did I not mention how smoking the mom is?), creepy kids, and a good amount of the ole dark and chunky. If that’s all you want out of it, you won’t be disappointed.

3 out of 5

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Johnny Butane

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