I’m a big fan of English comedy. I find it brash, aggresve, sometimes offenve, and genuinely hilarious (for the most part). I’m not however certain as to how much I love the nister de of the English mind, especially after experiencing Little Deaths, a sadistic and truly twisted anthology directed by a trio of upcoming English filmmakers. Don’t get me wrong, this is a picture that will certainly find a home in many a collector’s assemblage, but it’s certainly not for everyone, especially those who may be faint of heart.
The product as a whole sticks to a general link between extreme eroticism and of course, death; although each of the three featured shorts differ from one another quite drastically. The straight forward approach taken on by each filmmaker (Sean Hogan, Andrew Parkinson and mon Rumley) is both satisfying and strangely… deficient, in a sense. While the general direction is enjoyable throughout all three pictures, there are little surprises in store, so do yourself a favor and discard the hope of stunning twists and unforeseen concluons, as you won’t find them here. What you will find is some straight up perverse content that does manage to resonate long after viewing.
Sean Hogan’s offering, which leads the pack, is perhaps the most predictable of the three tales, though arguably the most enjoyable. A husband/wife combo share a morbid link in their milar taste for sexually driven abuse, and both favor action over words; luring homeless women to their home, where they’re drugged and raped. I’d divulge a tad more, but to do so would be to spoil the concluon, though you’ll see it coming midway through the segment. Oddly enough, the obvious direction in which the film heads doesn’t steal much away from the finale itself, and there’s a bit of pleasure to be found in the final moments of the first story.
The second installment is a bit more abstract in concept, though ultimately equal in its overall lack of mystery. Andrew Parkinson helms this chapter, and I’ll be the first to admit, it’s as morose as they come, and the sexuality of this segment stands out for the mple fact that Parkinson brings something to the table that is rarely seen on screen: a touch of legitimate originality. Analyzing the tale itself is eaer said than done, and having avoided spoilers thus far, I plan to continue doing so, which constricts me to a vague description. A uniquely paradoxical character juggles drug dealing and prostitution, all the while attempting to find a better path to walk, but her plans are thrown out the window when a new experimental drug leads to a strange connection with a caged beast that provides some nasty bodily fluids utilized to create more twisted pharmaceuticals. This story is certainly one of the film’s strongest tales, though it’s so nonrepresentational of any clear logic that it’s a tough sell, and a strange feature to try and really wrap your head around.
The film’s low point (for me personally) comes in the form of the final portion of the anthology: a bleak little tale of abuve relationships written and directed by mon Rumley. The idea behind this story is as straight forward as they come: a submisve chap finds himself trapped in a relationship with one of the biggest bitches (I do believe the story itself is titled, “Bitch”) to grace the screen in quite some time. He’s subjected to both phycal and mental terror, and he’s so pasve, he’s grown accustomed to rolling with the punches (and other very, very disturbing things). Of course, all men are born with the capacity to be broken, and while this poor schmuck has managed to endure for some time, his point of no return looms on an overtly obvious horizon. Just the same, revenge can certainly be fun, and the metaphorical ties between the title of the segment and the content of the story are admittedly appeang.
As a ngle, coheve unit, Little Deaths does indeed manage to work, and while we’ve grown accustomed to the extremely cliché term “torture porn”, this film may fit the moniker better than any picture I’ve seen branded with said label. Don’t expect copious amounts of blood, or crude guttural visuals fit to be compared to the work of Herschell Gordon Lewis; Little Deaths doesn’t really play on aesthetic magic so much as genuine psychological discomfort. I suppose there’s a bit of irony to be found there, condering the erotic outward appearance of the film. All in all, this one is tailor made for those in search of something that truly pushes the boundaries of conventional horror, though casual fans may find it difficult to nk their teeth in.
Grade: C+/B- (extremely tough time grading this one!)