Little Horror Movie

The pseudo-found footage film, Little Horror Movie is about a trio of friends whom all work on a YouTube show that allows them to traverse the world. Helen (Rebecca Ramon), Einar (Einar Kuusk), and Mark (Cody Heuer) are traveling to Casablanca for their next video. As they begin to immerse themselves in the culture there, they attend a wedding.

It turns out though that the ceremony, which heavily involved Helen was not a wedding; it was a Satanic ritual meant to let a demonic entity possess the host of the popular YouTube channel. Now, Einar and Mark must uncover the connection Helen already has with supernatural forces and figure out a way to save her. And not just from the possession but also from the figure who set her up and that person’s ultimate plan.

While the Jérôme Cohen-Olivar written and directed film does not sport the most original premise, there is a lot to admire about the ambitious plot. For starters, the YouTube show the leads work on sounds fantastic. They don’t just visit the tourist spots in whichever city is on the docket that day. Instead, they integrate themselves wholly into the fabric of the city and culture to highlight the similarities that unite the world; along with pointing out differences that make each place unique. Also, the reason Helen must become possessed is absorbing and offers a sense of forward momentum, which has been sorely lacking for the first 50 minutes, finally emerges.

“…the ceremony…was not a wedding; it was a Satanic ritual meant to let a demonic entity possess the host…”

While the plot finds interesting ways to look at an oft-told tale, the characterizations for everyone (with one exception, but that would be a huge spoiler) is non-existent. By the end of the movie the audience knows that: Einar and Mark don’t get along and barely respect each other’s work on the show; Helen knows multiple languages; Mark wants to make movies; Helen is possessed and encountered demons as a young child, and Einar somehow knows about this; he was supposedly there, but everyone appears to be roughly the same age, so huh?

90-minutes worth of action and that list is all there are to the leads. The one-dimensional writing of these people creates a dull watch with minuscule stakes and no reason for the viewer to care. The shame here is that Cohen-Olivar’s directing capabilities are far more skillful than his writing. At the beginning of Little Horror Movie, a random kid plows past Helen, in the middle of shooting, and steals her phone. The ensuing chase is exhilarating and a strong way to open the movie.

The wedding/Satanic ceremony is gloriously filmed. The editing between the footage the crew is shooting, and a more traditional third-person camera brings a certain visual flair and atmosphere that makes the whole scene hypnotically creepy. Later in the film, the camera is situated looking up at Helen attached to an odd machine, and it is such a crazy angle that it makes the whole thing feel even more bizarre. There’s a decent amount of atmosphere throughout, and a few substantial jump scares that work quite well.

“…they integrate themselves wholly into the fabric of the city and culture to highlight the similarities…”

For all that though, the movie takes a good long while before it stops spinning its wheels and starts going somewhere. Or, at least, it certainly feels that way until the final act. The ingredients are there in terms of directing, original plot, and serviceable (if unremarkable) acting. Sure, it takes a long time to go anywhere, but other titles that are slow burns have endings that stay with the audience. Why was I so bored then?

Aside from the thinly written characters, the problem may be that Little Horror Movie is all set up then pay off without any sense of mounting tension. It does not help matter the effects-heavy sections do tend to look on the cheap side, even by the standards of low budget horror movies. This hurts the overall product as the shoddy make-up job leaves the viewer at a distance and lessens the impact the violence is meant to achieve.

On paper, some movies show great promise and sound like they should work. What then is lost in the transition from script to feature that means a film is dead on arrival? That question has many answers- studio interference, constant rewrites, bad casting, and ever so much more. In the case of Little Horror Movie, it seems the writing and limited resources hurt its original spin on the demonic possession genre.

Littler Horror Movie (2018) Directed by Jérôme Cohen-Olivar. Written by Jérôme Cohen-Olivar. Starring Rebecca Ramon, Einar Kuusk, Cody Heuer.

4.5 Jump Scares (out of 10)

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