Little Red Devil (2008)

Little Red Devil (click for larger image)Starring James Russo, Dee Wallace, Jim Lewis, Daniel Baldwin

Directed by Tommy Brunswick

Let’s face it: Satan is a big troublemaker. You really can’t trust a guy with such a reputation; or at least, you shouldn’t. Even if having fiery red skin, huge horns, goat hooves, and a mouth full of needle sharp fangs were accepted under the argument of embracing cultural diversity, the fact that he’s also evil incarnate should be enough to make most balk at inviting him over for dinner.

Shady Jimmy Lidell (Lewis) has had a tough time. His girlfriend disappeared under suspicious and worrisome circumstances months before, and now he finds himself spending his days diddling a prostitute and hanging out with even shadier friends. It’s one of these hoodlum friends that talks him into robbing a local gambler with a reputed large stash of cash stowed away in coffee cans. This robbery, which goes quite awry, reveals a possible clue to his girlfriend’s disappearance and leads Lidell to the acquaintance of local sleazy club owner and small time crime lord Luc (Baldwin). Luc, shadier than all the rest by several degrees of dark, takes the fledgling criminal under his leathery black wing and brings the lad into the organization, also promising to help with getting some information on Jimmy’s missing girlfriend.

The first general complaint of Little Red Devil is one of energy. This film will sap enthusiasm from the viewer like some sort of filmic entropy which leads to sharp stabbing compulsions to tab the fast forward button. This is mostly due to sputters in the story flow in which it feels nothing is happening. The worst of these is a virtual rash of flashback sequences which are used consistently throughout the film with a sort of manic obsession. Jimmy Lidell often stares sadly at pictures of his missing girlfriend, a pained look on his face, or otherwise day dreams flashback sequences that no one cares about. These scenes are crushing to any sort of energy a film might create. They are common to the point of becoming predictable; you can almost sense when Jimmy is about to reach for the damned photograph of his girlfriend and stare morosely at it for awhile.

The special effects in Little Red Devil are not really bad for the budget, though they do border (or step right into) the world of goofy. The devil and his minions within this film are reminiscent of Tim Curry’s getup in Legend, albeit at hugely discounted prices. The gore and violence is equally sort of silly, sometimes outright so, such as when one victim gets his head crushed by a devil and his skull collapses into a silly CGI flathead with bulging cartoon eyes that looks like something old Warner Brothers animators might have drawn up while drunk on fermented glue.

Given the film’s cheeky title, the fairly light and humorous special effects, as well as its mild dose of T&A, one might expect the tone to be fun, perhaps even funny. This is the film’s greatest failing; it takes itself too seriously. There are other films vaguely similar to this, especially from the great 80’s, which had some success simply because they also seeded good doses of humor in between the monster reveals and the next pole dancing stripper.

Little Red Devil’s greatest flaw is that it fails to even try to be funny when that is exactly what it needed. If you make a film with big rubbery devils and boob shaking prostitutes, you just can’t leave out the humor; it should be one of the seven deadly sins to attempt otherwise.

Lastly, let’s talk about Satan himself. Satan is widely accepted to be a sincerely bad-ass dude with aspirations of overthrowing God. However, here he’s nothing more than a petty crime-lord who runs a small town night club. He’s not out courting presidents and kings, subverting nations to fight amongst one another in order to herald the end times so that he might finally step out of the dark shadows and pee on your dog, no; instead he’s a chump bad guy who actually looks like he could possibly lose in a fist fight with Jesus. This isn’t really Daniel Baldwin’s fault, who does play the role reasonably well, but rather a fault of the script which casts the hoary dark overlord of the infernal abyss as a petty small town crime lord nobody. Satan should sue.

1 1/2 out of 5

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Tristan Sinns

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