Co-directed and co-written by Sean Hogan, Andrew Parkinson and Simon Rumley, 2011's Little Deaths definitely gets credit for trying something new within the confines of the horror movie genre, often times criticized, and rightly so, for relying on formulaic plots and recycled ideas. Though the film isn't always successful, this three part anthology of sex, death and twisted ideas does manage to stand out from the straight to video horror movie pack thanks to some interesting twists and slick production values.
So yeah, this is an anthology film, which means it's got a few separate stories and in this case, they're linked thematically, which is a nice touch. The first story follows a couple of Christian missionary types who are out to do the Lord's work and help the local homeless population. Unfortunately for the aforementioned homeless population, these guys don't quite practice what they preach - something a homeless woman learns when they bring her back to their fancy home. They let her in, give her free reign, and clean her up real nice like before plying her with some wine and drugging her, at which point they make their true intentions known, but they may have gotten more than they bargained for.
Gory, sexy (hey look, hot lesbians!) and nicely shot making great use of some red light filters in a few key scenes, this story, aptly titled House And Home benefits from a great twist, some solid gore (and nicely handled effects) and decent and admittedly brazen performances from all involved. The ending goes on a little longer than it needed to but all in all, this is a good start.
The second story, Mutant Tool, introduces us to a pretty middle aged drug addicted women who finally lands herself in rehab where she becomes a 'test subject' in a new experimental program designed to help her kick her habit once and for all. The catch? She's being weaned off of the narcotics she's love for so long and onto a different substance, that being ejaculatory fluid harvested from a giant zombie dick attached to an undead specimen being kept locked up and barely alive in a secret part of the facility.
This one is pretty graphic, lacking the twist of the first story and just going for the gross out factor more than anything else. With that said, if you like a horror story that rubs your face in it and delivers plenty of bodily fluid, you'll appreciate this one. There's a sense of dark humor to this story that makes it work even when it gets completely ridiculous - and it does just that, to the point where you really can't take it seriously at all, though maybe you're mean to? It's hard to say, really - but it's different, you've got to give it credit for that, and it's nicely shot even if the story goes on longer than it needs to and delivers shock value in place of suspense of scares.
Last but not least, we get a story called Bitch which details the bizarre exploits of a male/female couple who are into some kinky stuff. See, Pete has a kink that requires he act like a dog - right down to pissing like a dog, frequently all over the underwear belonging to his foxy girlfriend. Claire, in turn, punishes him - anally. Eventually, Pete decides that he's tired of being made to feel like a bad dog and wants to feel free to do what he wants to, but Claire isn't going to just let him wizz all over her stuff. The ensuing battle of the sexes takes a strange idea and drives it headlong into even stranger places.
This one builds to the most disturbing climax of the three stories and without wanting to spoil it, let it suffice to say that kibble and ass do not good bedmates make. Like the first two stories, it's well shot and fairly well acted though there are a couple of nightclub scenes that go on too long and feel like padding. That ending though, it doesn't get as graphic as it could have and thank God for that, but it still manages to get pretty intense but despite the depravity of it all and the bizarre allegories that the story makes, there's actually some nice romantic touches here that give this twisted tale more depth than it would have had otherwise.
Little Deaths looks good in this anamorphic widescreen transfer. Detail is sharp, colors are nice looking though in spots are tinted just a little bit blue for some sort of artistic intent, and skin tones look natural. Black levels are strong and though there are some minor problems with compression artifacts or with print damage or dirt. This is a well authored presentation of some clean source material.
The only audio option is a solid English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, though optional subtitles are provided in both English and in Spanish. Not the most aggressive track you're ever going to hear, this mix does add some nice ambient noise to the background from time to time and provides clear dialogue and well balanced effects and music.
Aside from a trailer for the feature, animated menus and chapter stops the DVD also includes a Behind The Scenes featurette that runs for just over twenty-three minutes and includes a lot of input from Sean Hogan and his cohorts as well as from a few cast and crew members. Topics covered include pre-production, writing the film, effects and more. It's quite well put together and nicely edited but it also contains some spoilers - so watch the movie first (that should go without saying, but just in case...). A commentary might have allowed Hogan, Parkinson and Rumley to go more in-depth on some scene specific issues, but that didn't happen - this is a pretty solid look at what went into making the movie though and if you dug the feature, you'll want to watch this.
Little Deaths is a pretty decent and thoroughly bizarre horror anthology that won't sit well with the faint of heart but which will deliver more than enough shocks and twists to keep horror fans interested. Image's DVD looks and sounds pretty good and while it could have used more extras, the included documentary is one worth watching. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.