Friday, August 24, 2007

Little Erin Merryweather (2007)

Little Erin Merryweather is an original and unique horror film that blends a slasher flick with fairy tale elements. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the film, from the cinematography to the acting to the script and story.

The film opens with an eerie rhyme about a little girl (Jillian Wheeler) and what her father (Josef Wille) does to her while reading his favorite fairy tale to her…and a brutal murder of a college student on a snow-covered campus. The boy is stalked through the woods by a red-hooded killer, attacked, gutted and has his intestines replaced with stones.

From there, we meet Peter Bloom (David Morwick, who also wrote, directed, produced and edited), a writer for the college newspaper who finds out about the murder in all its grisly detail. He is also a psychology student in Dr. Paula Sheffield’s (Elizabeth Callahan) class and lately they’ve been studying serial killers. Peter is convinced that the school has a serial killer on their hands and tries to convince his two buddies, Teddy (Brandon Johnson) and Sean (Marcus Bonnee), who also work for the paper, to do an investigative report on the homicide. The bumbling police officer (Frank Ridley) is doing a horrible job tracking down the killer and soon, more males are murdered by the same modus operandi. Peter decides to take matters into his own grubby little hands and enlists the help of his professor, Dr. Paula, to compile a serial killer profile and figure out the significance of the stones.

Meanwhile, Peter has a crush on Erin (Vigdis Anholt), who is in his psychology class and works at the library. She seems like an intelligent, nice and pretty girl, but there’s more to her than meets the eye…

Can Peter figure out who the killer is before he is next?

From the title of the film and from the way the story unfolds, you know that Erin Merryweather is the killer. There’s no big reveal at the end or any silly Scooby-Doo-like twist…just a very straight-forward, creepy story.

The major appeal of the film comes from its fairy-tale-like resuscitation of a creepy nursery rhyme that is like a spin off of Little Red Riding Hood gone horribly, horribly wrong. Accompanying this back story are beautiful illustrations (done by illustrator Kelly Murphy) that show places within the story that slowly fade-in to the real live location. The setting of the snow-covered, isolated campus also helps to up the creeptastic ante.

Another plus is the superb acting in the film. David Morwick and Vigdis Anholt both do a tremendous job in the lead roles. Elizabeth Callahan also does a great job in her role as the psych professor. I was very impressed with the quality of the acting in the film and hope to see more of both Morwick and Anholt in the future.

The script is intelligent and doesn’t insult you by crafting throw-away, unbelievable characters or situations. Penned by Morwick, (who amazingly shared the duties of a lead role, directing, writing, editing and producing) the script is tight, believable and has absolutely no plot holes. Most horror films nowadays are written with just boobs and blood in mind, but not so with Little Erin Merryweather. Morwick takes the time to develop the characters, make the audience care about them (even the killer) while managing to keep the film full of tension.

The film does have its jump scares, but it mainly relies on suspense and tension as opposed to being “scary.” Erin’s transition from sweet, shy library chick to dolled-up psycho killer is definitely a shock to see and definitely satisfying. Just don’t expect to see gore in this film – most of the death scenes are either obscured or happen off-screen. There’s not much of the red stuff flying around either, but I’m definitely not complaining. Subtle horror is much more my cup of tea.

The direction (again by Morwick – what a multi-tasker!) is stunning, especially the opening scene with the little girl, any of the scenes in the woods, and the opening kill scene. The stark white snow makes a perfect backdrop to the killer’s blood-red cloak. Just like Morick’s acting (and writing), I hope to see much more of his direction in the future.

Little Erin Merryweather is a new release that should definitely be seen by more people, ones that appreciate a wondrous, whimsical slasher when they see one!

Available from Amazon!

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