My Little Sister (2016) DVD Review

rsz_1rsz_mls1MY LITTLE SISTER (Dirs- Maurizio Del Piccolo, Roberto Del Piccolo, ITALY, 2016)

Starring- Holli Dillon, Mattia Rosellini, David White, Astrid Di Bon

Out NOW on UK DVD from Left Films

The woods are always a great setting for a horror film and the natural habit is greatly used in this gritty stalk and slash thriller with elements of a torture porn flick thrown in for good measure. Whilst it’s low budget from the start and the setting pretty much confirms that since what’s the better way than to use a sparse woodland area without having to spend money on difficult locations that can be inevitably hampered by unsanctioned walk on cameos by members of the public and MY LITTLE SISTER uses the woodland to its extent.

The plot is basic in that it starts off with a couple going deep into a forest to meet up with some friends. They bump into the oft used horror character of the scary local, warning them that Little Sister will get them and to not take the non-threatening name lightly. Naturally they ignore this nutter’s warnings and its not long before the couple are having to fight off this vicious killer wearing what looks like a human skin mask and who has a nice line of peeling men’s faces off while making their loved ones watch on in horror, fulfilling the torture porn feel of the film from scene one. Throw into this a suspicious derelict farm house which seems to be the home of the killer and a mad women who wanders around the woods, seemingly harmless but somehow has a link to the house and to the madman.

rsz_mls2Opening with a nicely done scene of brutality with some unfortunate captives being tortured by the aforementioned Little Sister including one man being removed of his face in grizzly and impressive effects fashion MY LITTLE SISTER starts off in impressive attention grabbing kick off. This opening allows the Del Piccolo’s to start off strong and keep the viewer interested and to stay on board for the duration. Whilst there’s no doubt there are some flaws in this film there is also a lot to be impressed about. The central bad guy Little Sister or as he is also known by his really name, Igor, my have one of the most daftest sounding nick names for a bad guy but somehow comes across off as an effective villain with a grim mask made up of faces of previous victims looking pretty grim and unnerving.

rsz_mls3With hunchbacked slouch and stumbling walk as well he is the typical slasher bad guy one with a handicap yet somehow this still doesn’t impead him and he manages to outwit able bodied victims easily, which is also a classic trait of the slasher film. There is no doubt that the directors have been studying their horror homework as there’s the standard reference to slasher flicks and also a nice reference to the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE which plays into the backstory of the little sister and his family abode, a run down and decaying farm house which is a nice backdrop to the film and as a set is an impressive find for the film-makers. Though like any horror film you wonder why a character running from a mad man would take a chance running into a clearly deserted grim farm house knowing clearly well this might not be a place with a welcoming or comforting vibe.

rsz_mls4Clearly the film does have a few flaws. Dialogue wise the decision to go with an Italian cast speaking English seems somewhat unusual and whilst the dialogue is minimal the lines delivered seem stunted and flawed. This is marred by some wooden dialogue and admittedly were not here to witness a master-class in acting but it seems at times unintentionally comic particularly from the doom saying woodsman who is known in the cast as Ben. His delivery of the aforementioned “you’ll all be doomed” speech comes off as more cheesy and it doesn’t really help that he has an axe in his hand which makes him look more like a threatening local hill billy rather than a to be laughed at idiot local. At times less dialogue and maybe even no dialogue would have been a better choice or route to choose that could have added an originality to the piece. The cinematography is impressive for much of the running time though some earlier shots suffer from a slight sense of amateurish filming. As if part of the earlier section of the film is shot on a smartphone as it has that sense of image stability and picture panning which feels as if the screen is being dragged rather than the camera being moved.

rsz_mls5It’s not an overly original piece of film-making we have on hand here and with some flaws there’s still plenty to admire in MY LITTLE SISTER and the Del Piccolo’s have put their heart and time into this. To their credit they pull it off efficiently and with some gritty style, it has an unironic full on traditional slasher film feel, with an intention of trying to possibly set up a titular horror character in the form of Little Sister.

6/10

Deadly Virtues: Love. Honour. Obey. (2014) Review

deadly4Deadly Virtues: Love. Honour. Obey. (2014)

Directed by: Ate de Jong
Written by: Mark Rogers
Starring: Edward Akrout, Matt Barber and Megan Maczko

“A stranger breaks into the house of a couple, ties up the husband and, having a whole weekend at his hand, plays a slow game with the woman, a game of threats, fear, obedience – and intimacy.”

People often complain about excesses of sex and violence in the horror genre but, in truth, it’s rare that these two elements are successfully brought together on screen. Films like Zombie Strippers (2008), Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1998) and Nightmare Sisters (1988), whilst attempting to blend those genres that titillate and terrify, usually end up producing a concoction that doesn’t excite on any level.

And, I must admit, during the first few moments of Deadly Virtues: Love. Honor. Obey., I did worry that the filmed sex was going to prove as disappointing as the experience usually is in real life. In the first moments of the film we discover it’s a Friday evening and we are following a mysterious figure entering a suburban home. Clearly he has no right to be there, as is suggested by his furtive manner, his penchant for sniffing the shoes that he finds in the house, and the fact that the owners are oblivious to him.

deadly2We know the owners are oblivious because, although they’re off-screen, they’re engaged in the sort of noisy sex that would make most neighbours believe the couple were watching one of the Saw movies. Or strangling an unwanted piglet. The unseen man grunts and wheezes like an asthmatic bulldog humping a reluctant chew toy. When the intruder bursts in on the scene the tension of this movie really kicks in and we, the audience, begin a rollercoaster ride of genuine horror. The cast in this film do an excellent job.

We first meet Tom (Matt Barber: Downton Abbey, Dracula and Being Human) whilst he’s behind his wife, banging away at her with a level of mechanised ferocity that seems to indicate more industry than intimacy. Tom is taken out of the equation early on in this film but his presence remains as a focal point for some particularly pleasing torture and abuse. At the same point when we meet Tom, we’re also given our first glimpse of Alison (Megan Maczko: Me and Orson Welles, A Hologram for the King and The In-Between). If Tom looks like he’s an overenthusiastic participant in the intimacy, Alison looks like she’d rather be grouting the kitchen. As the story progresses we learn there are lots of things Alison would rather be doing than Tom, but I won’t give away any spoilers here.

deadly3The final member of the cast is the sinister intruder, Aaron (Edward Akrout: The Hollow Crown, The Borgias and Mr Selfridge). Aaron is a man of mystery, a master of shibaru and an extremely focused (if uninvited and unwanted) houseguest. From the first moment when he has Alison alone, when he says, “You belong to me now,” he comes across as a dangerous and unpredictable threat. Perhaps he’s best summed up in the exchange where Alison sobs at him, “Why are you doing this to us?” Aaron laughs confidently and simply responds, “Why not?”

From beginning to end this is a film that pushes boundaries and explores the very real horror of assault and sexual violence, as well as the vast difference between sex and intimacy. The acting is superb. Mark Rogers’s script is strong and credible and Ate de Jong’s direction is flawless. For narrative tension, for an unsettling sense of realism and for a disquieting sense of menace, this is a film that will genuinely make you squirm in your seat.

10/10