Overview: A man begins to believe that his stepson might be the Antichrist. Netflix; 2017; Rated TV-MA; 95 mins.
Parody: The Omen is one of the greatest horror movies ever made. Its depiction of the demonic spawn of Satan in the form of an adorable/intensely creepy kid has been referenced, copied, and spoofed in myriad movies since The Omen’s release in 1976. Little Evil aims at retelling the same story but from the point of view of an overeager step-father who finds himself the guardian of a kid who can make people kill themselves and who communes through a freaky sock puppet which looks like a goat.
For the first act or so the movie largely succeeds as a parody of The Omen, with Lucas (played by Owen Atlas channelling Harvey Stephens) being pure evil, but it only being apparent to his step-father, Gary (Adam Scott). Scott plays bemused well and as the straight man, he gives a great performance full of confused looks and deadpan questions. The problem is that after the fairly solid opening the movie begins to get away from the filmmakers.
Cast: Little Evil is ostensibly a spoof but towards the third act, it changes into something else, trying to inject a lot of heart in a plot that hasn’t really earned it. There are some solid jokes throughout with the step-father group therapy and the auteur wedding videographer being standouts, but a lot of it fails, and towards the end, it begins to lean too heavily on slapstick and sight gags.
A big disappointment with the movie is how good a cast they’ve managed to get and how little they get to do. Evangeline Lilly’s character does nothing but scold her husband, cook, and do laundry. Sally Field was in the movie so little that I didn’t even realise she was in it until the credits rolled. Chris D’elia, Donald Faison, and Kyle Bornheimer are pretty good as the other step-dads but never get employed to full effect.
There are some bright spots: Clancy Brown as the Armageddon heralding priest is perfectly cast and Bridget Everett was great as Gary’s friend and fellow step-dad, Al, and given a better script she would have stolen this movie away from everyone.
Overall: Little Evil is an interesting idea that yields some laughs but is ultimately squandered. The cast do well with what they’ve got and Adam Scott remains an affable leading man but in the end, the parody isn’t sharp enough and the jokes miss more than they hit. This is a rare spoof that makes you want to go back and watch the more serious original.
Featured Image: Netflix