“Mary had a little lamb, and his fleece was white as snow…” However, the fleece is blood red in Jason Arber’s horror spin on the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb. This is the latest in an ever-increasing proliferation of films that turn childhood tales into silver-screen nightmares. I cannot say it is my favorite genre. Written by Harry Boxley, the film tells the tried and true tale of big city pretension and arrogance versus the barren landscapes of the woodlands.
Carla (May Kelly) hosts “Carla’s Cold Cases,” a true-crime radio show. With declining ratings, Pete (Mark Sears), the station manager, gives her a week to bring in more relevant cases to discuss. After seeing a news segment on the murder in the prologue, Carla and her crew, Ray (Harry Boxley), Shelly (Charlie Esquér), Mona (Gillian Broderick), Liz (Danielle Scott), plus Liz’s boyfriend Matt (Rob Kirtley), travel to the woods.
Such an undertaking is always a recipe for disaster for the characters. However, it is also a recipe for a successful horror film. Of course, Carla and her people are eventually found, then tortured and murdered by the elderly Mary (Christine Ann Nyland) and her twisted son, who wears a sheep’s head over his deformed face while carrying an axe.
“…tortured and murdered by the elderly Mary and her twisted son, who wears a sheep’s head…”
Arber’s film feels like something you’ve seen before, but for some reason, you can’t look away. In fact, Mary Had a Little Lamb is almost a direct homage to the original, iconic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The film is so close in nature that it even has a bloody hammer-wielding madman at a family dinner table. Both films aim to be suspenseful without relying on gory effects. On the surface, this film is a mediocre entry into the horror genre. However, I always like movies that pay homage to the masters of the genre. In this case, Tobe Hooper, the legendary king of independent horror. However, there is a darker twist lying at the end of this slasher.
Despite the low budget, the acting is excellent for this type of horror offering. Nyland plays the role of a cracked, elderly woman toting tea biscuits and brewing tea in a proper fashion. She is really over-the-top bonkers. The rest of the cast are decent as well.
Overall, Mary Had a Little Lamb is a clever little take on the old nursery rhyme. The acting is good, especially Nyland. In the end, this is like an old horror story that you tell around a fire while roasting marshmallows at a summer camp. This would be great to watch on Halloween with your pumpkin ale microbrew and handfuls of candy. No Godard or Hitchcock here, but it offers several good little scares within its brief runtime.
"…like an old horror story that you tell around a fire while roasting marshmallows..."