Little Deaths (2011)
The horror anthology can mean many things to a fan of the genre. For some it is a tried and true method of storytelling adding variety and spice to a viewing experience. For others they can be clunky with a disconnected tone that makes it hard to maintain any interest or invest any emotions. Despite these two varied schools of thoughts we still get a steady trickle of anthologies and I’m going to dissect one of the newest offerings, Little Deaths, right now.
I acquired this film some months before I ever watched it and as I sat down before the TV screen, ready for action, I had quite forgotten why or when this film had caught my attention. That aside, outwardly this film has many things going for it when you look at it objectively. Though the stories are all unrelated they have the common thread of sex and death to connect them; loving it so far. Secondly it’s an English collection with a relatively unknown but extremely able cast. With that I remembered what must have drawn me to the movie in the first place.
House & Home
The first segment concerns an affluent couple Richard and Victoria Gull (Luke de Lacey & Siubhan Harrison) who although incredibly smug and satisfied with their lives crave cruel sex games with vulnerable homeless woman who they can manipulate, in this particular instance it’s a woman named Sorrow (Holly Lucas). The thing that immediately struck me about this story was not the mystery surrounding their intentions and bizarre sexual appetites but the dynamic between the couple. The power balance between two is aligned massively to Victoria and it is apparent that she calls the shots with every aspects of their lives, including their sex games. It culminates in a bizarre twist which though not unwelcome was not how I was hoping for things to resolve themselves. In life sometimes the bad guys win but for the Gull’s, it is apparent that they have picked on the wrong woman this time.
This instalment is probably the most bizarre and confusing of the three. The instability of the segment actually works for it as it beautifully reflects the instability in the main character, Jens (Jodie Jameson) life. Jen who is a recovering junkie and ex-prostitute is unable to hold together her fragile new life with her boyfriend Frank (Daniel Brocklebank) (who also once acted as her pimp). A brighter future slips away as money becomes tight, her boyfriend continues to get involved with dodgy dealings and her cravings continue to haunt her. An experimental drug to help wean her off her dependency is tried and from here on in to story unfold as we discover more about the mysterious new drug, the monster that its milked from and the people who are administering it. Ultimately while the story has potential and is interesting to watch, the resolution is hazy and the focus more on twists than plot and character development. The ending, however, still really packs a punch despites its lack of logic.
The final segment is probably the one that caused the most controversy amongst viewers. The titular bitch Claire (Kate Braithwaite) and her soppy boyfriend Pete (Tom Sawyer) (who is a bitch but in a different way) are trapped in an unhealthy and poisonous relationship. With flits of aggression on both sides they began a speedy descent towards ruin as Claire becomes more indifferent and Pete becomes more of a ghost. This comes to a head in a shocking final scene where Pete uses Claire’s phobia and the only source of vulnerability against her. Once again the theme of power in a relationship is very heavy in this segment. Pete’s desperation for her to love him means that many imbalances develop and odd sexual games where he is stripped of all his dominance proceed. Whilst this segment can be slow in places I found that overall it is the most fascinating, disturbing and unique film in the bunch and the one that left the biggest impression when I switched the TV off.
I think due to disturbing themes and imagery that never apologises or turns away when the going gets rough, it is easy to turn ones back on this before it has been given a fair chance. The sexual aspects are often metaphors for these people’s loneliness, hunger for control and desperation. This anthology has a cohesive feel that you are never pulled out of as it continues to drag you to the darker recesses of the human mind to explore behaviours that while disturbing to watch are just as much a part of being human as any of the finer qualities we can exhibit.
Video sourced from Youtube.