Directed by: Eli Craig (Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil)
Starring: Adam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, Owen Atlas
Watched On: Netflix Instant (Netflix Original)
Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is one of my favorite horror-comedies of all time; I just think it’s an incredibly underrated movie, it’s one of those films you can watch over and over again and still find hysterical. Little Evil is no Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, but it’s a lot better than you’d probably expect it to be, entertaining and possessing the same brand of offbeat sweetness.
The plot revolves around the unusual relationship between an easygoing guy named Gary (Adam Scott, amusingly deadpan) and his young stepson Lucas (newcomer Owen Atlas,) a boy who seems to be a little bit on the… odd side. Gary is thoroughly committed to the love of his life, the sugary sweet Samantha (Evangeline Lilly) but he slowly begins to suspect that Lucas is the spawn of Satan.
Lucas talks through a creepy goat sock puppet, seems to cause fatal accidents wherever he goes, and is generally macabre and silent. Gary does what anyone would do in this situation; he joins a support group for people who suspect their stepkids are evil. Gary gradually realizes that Lucas might ultimately bring about Armageddon, and since his wife seems to be neck deep in denial, Gary must make some difficult decisions, with the help of the eccentric stepparents from the support group.
Unsurprisingly, Little Evil incorporates homages from lots and lots of other horror films, including, of course, The Omen, The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby, and Poltergeist. The cast is funny in general, but Tyler Labine, who played the good-natured, heavyset yokel Dale in Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, steals the show here as Karl, an amateur filmmaker who takes himself and his work very, very seriously. I wasn’t crazy about Gary’s boisterous lesbian coworker Al (Bridget Everett)’s particular brand of humor, I think the film might have been better off without her. She was like Melissa McCarthy’s character in Bridesmaids, but not nearly as funny.
I was never a fan of Evangeline Lilly’s character, Kate Austen, in the show Lost, her ‘bad girl with a heart of gold’ shtick didn’t work for me. I liked her better here, as a bubbly and seemingly oblivious mom in deep denial about her son’s evil nature. It would have been easy for Samantha to just be incredibly annoying, but Lilly pulled the absurdity of the character off. Little Evil has a handful of laugh-out-loud moments and at it’s core is a weirdly touching story about what it means to be a father and be part of a family, hidden underneath comedic violence and silly humor. I’ll be very interested to see what Eli Craig does in the future. (Rated R)