When I first loaded up Evil Little Things, I was expecting a creepy little doll flick of the Richard Matheson Trilogy of Terror or Child’s Play variety terrorizing a family headed by Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame—which are, in themselves, evil little things. Then things unexpectedly (and pleasantly) veered into portmanteau territory with stories concerned with creepy little dolls or, in this case, evil little things.
The linking device across the two stories—instead of the usual three or five stories typical of most anthologies—is a young boy with a fear of monsters under the bed; his mom takes him to a local toy store the next day to buy a friend to keep him company at night.
Of course, the toy store’s proprietor and resident doll maker is an odd duck. At first glance, I thought he was played by Bill Mosely (of our recent “Radio Week” reviewed Dead Air), who does a lot of put-a-star-name-on-the-box type of movies as of late. But it’s actually Geoff McKnight (who very good here). He did an early ‘90s, three-season run on the NBC-TV series In the Heat of the Night as Deputy Farrell and got his start working on Tracy Keenan Wynn’s excellent In the Line of Duty series of NBC-TV telefilms.
In the first tale, “Blood for Gold,” which reminds of the 1973 Kim Darby-starring TV movie classic Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a horror novelist moves her children into her great grandmother’s house in the Atlanta countryside—a house attached to the legends of an evil Leprechaun that haunts Irish Mountain. And the house has a creepy fireplace. And mom’s hearing music coming from the fireplace. Of course, she starts an excavation. And then she starts speaking in an Irish brogue. And a creepy, red-bearded doll shows up . . .
And that takes us to the second tale, “Be Careful What You Wish For,” which harkens the classic ‘60s Telly Savalas episode “The Living Doll” from TV’s The Twilight Zone. We meet Abby, an emotionally damaged collector of antique dolls on her way to another Magna-Con. And Abby’s a bit tweaked with her doll obsession, and one doll in particular, Patty, who likes to “hurt” the other dolls. Is Patty possessed or is Abby imagining it? Of course, Patty’s jealous of Abby’s suitor, Jeremy . . .
Hey, we almost forgot about Zach Galligan (who’s very good in his small role as the abusive dad). You didn’t think he was getting out of this alive, did you? Say hello to Giggles the Clown, Zach.
Although we know the dolls will prevail and the owners will suffer an evil fate, both tales are well-written with enough suspenseful creeps and twisted mystery to keep our interest. And once those dolls break out the knives—especially Patty (voiced to chilling perfection by screenwriter Yasmin Bakhtiari) from the stronger, second segment, yikes! I haven’t had dolls freak me out this much since Dan Curtis broke out the dolls all those years ago in Trilogy of Terror.
Evil Little Things is a solid debut from the screenwriting team of Yasmin Bakhtiari and Nancy Knight (Knight effectively stars as Aunt Sally). I’m looking forward to their next horror opus and I’d love to see either of these tales expanded to feature-length films. Director Matt Green has been around a little bit longer, with an ever-expanding resume of direct-to-video horror films he’s been building on since the early 2000’s. He most recently worked behind the scenes as a set designer on the Taraji P. Henson-starring Hidden Figures (2016).
Huh? You need more creepy little dolls? Do you, really? Hey, it’s your funeral. Check out our “Ten Evil Dolls” examination for a list of cursed figurines that date from the ‘60s anthology series The Twilight Zone to the present-day horror of Annabelle Comes Home from The Conjuring series.
Disclaimer: This movie was sent to us by its PR department. As always: you know that has nothing to do with our feelings on the movie.