Little Deaths is a Perverted Little Gem

The good old horror anthology film has been around almost as long as cinema itself. Every era or movement in film has dipped their toe in the anthology waters from the 1919 silent German work EERIE TALES to the Italian giallo BLACK SABBATH. 80s horror anthologies such as CREEPSHOW and TALES FROM THE CRYPT put a culty stamp on the brand while around the turn of the millennium 3 EXTREMES brought together three great Asian directors together for a group of rather disturbing tales.
 
LITTLE DEATHS continues this illustrious tradition by bringing three indie UK directors together to each make a separate short film that delves into the uncomfortable territory where sex and horror meet. The three films vary in quality and are totally disconnected apart from a loose thematic thread but overall LITTLE DEATHS is a pretty successful anthology offering up some delightfully repulsive blasts of depravity.
 
The first film, while thoroughly competent is unquestionably the weakest. Sean Hogan's HEART AND HOME is a predictably conventional story following an odd upper class couple as they lure a homeless girl into their home for what we assume is to be some sort of sadistic sexual game. Hogan is filmmaker I am totally unfamiliar with and judging by his work here he has a good ability at generating some transgressive situations. Unfortunately he doesn't have an interesting story at his disposal and HEART AND HOME's only grace is that it's short and nasty. Despite its problems it actually works well as the opening piece.
 
The middle film is MUTANT TOOL by another filmmaker I'm unfamiliar with, Andrew Parkinson. Stepping things up from the sexual perversion of the first film, MUTANT TOOL plays like a twisted joke made by David Cronenberg's kid brother. Jen is a junkie drug-dealer who takes part in an experimental pharmaceutical trial in the hopes of finally getting clean. The results of her medication and the ultimate source of this weird drug take this film in an hilariously absurd body-horror direction. Parkinson's film descends into gratuitous schlock while maintaining an immensely discomforting tone. The ultimate reveal is predictable yet MUTANT TOOL manages to create a few key images that I had never seen before. Two words: giant cock. That is all...
 
The final film is where this anthology moves from passably mundane to assuredly spectacular. Simon Rumley's film BITCH is a brilliant little short that is not nearly as immediately visceral as the first two films but packs a cumulative punch that would make any director envious. Rumley is a filmmaker that deserves a lot more attention than he has been given recently. His last film RED, WHITE AND BLUE was one of my favorite films of 2010 and his film before that, THE LIVING AND THE DEAD (which I only caught recently) is an astounding piece of horror cinema that is unlike anything this reviewer has ever seen.
 
He structures his films with a type of rolling momentum that cascades layer upon layer of intensity giving the viewer the sense they are stuck in a small room with the walls slowly closing in. Unlike his two prior films though, BITCH builds to a bizarrely elegiac climax with an extended musical piece ironically underscoring a pretty darn nasty scenario. I'm not even prepared to begin to describe the plot to you as it is simultaneously straightforward, perverse, allegorical and elusive but let's just say that even sense of the word 'bitch' is explored here. BITCH is a truly marvelous little short that highlights what one with a decent amount of cinematic skill can achieve with a very low budget.
 
LITTLE DEATHS is tight little British anthology film that should appeal to all fans of extreme and underground cinema. It may be a little too depraved and perverse for the ordinary viewer but those with a taste for cinema that sits on the fringes of acceptability should find much to 'enjoy'.