October Horror: Day 1, Little Evil & The Ninth Gate

It’s a simple challenge. Watch a horror movie every day during the month of October. The difficulty comes in picking what movies to watch. I’ve not given myself any guidelines, no rules, rather I’m simply choosing movies based on availability and what strikes my fancy at the moment.

I’ve seen some of these films before and some are new to me or were watched so long ago they may as well be. Some are good films, many are not. I’m going to try to judge each movie on its own merits. 

My wife as decided to do this with me as well, which just means more movies since she has a full-time job and slightly divergent tastes. One way or the other, we’re going to watch 31 horror movies this month.

I’ll be posting thoughts on our flicks the day after viewing.


Day 1


Little Evil 

Little Evil is a horror-comedy released through Netflix starring Adam Scott of Parks & Recreation fame written and directed by Eli Craig, whose Tucker & Dale vs Evil is a solid horror comedy as well.

The premise offers nothing complex–newly wed Gary comes to believe and discover his step-son Lucas is literally the Anti-Christ. Craig makes this a fathers and sons movie, which offers a lote of ground for jabs and okes. However, none of the humor really rises above the level of a slight smirk or momentary ‘ha.’ There are a slew of support cast members who are well-traveled in the funny-but-forgettable crowd (Donald Faison, Chris D’Elia, Tyler Labine, and Carla Gallo).


They buttress Scott’s Gary adequately making his shtick effective. Doing most of the lifting is Bridget Everett playing Gary’s lesbian buddy/co-worker essentially playing as an over-the-top straight guy ,and Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man) as Gary’s wife Samantha doing a brilliant job of gaslighting her new husband when he begins to suspect her son is pure evil. So, hijinks ensue. 

Again the jokes never really rise to levels I would’ve liked. Similarly, although the action never gets cartoony or takes itself too seriously making for an energetic story moving along at a good pace, it never really felt urgent. There wasn’t any unnecessary gory, hardly any in fact, and none of it felt unrealistic. I think the deadpan-ness could have been amplified making the humor more contrary or unexpected. But there’s something to be said for a story that imagines what would the Antichrist’s relationship would be with his version of Joseph.

Not a bad flick, middle of the road.


The Ninth Gate


Speaking of the Devil, The Ninth Gate is Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte where a rare book dealer is tasked with authenticating a tome supposedly co-written with Satan. 

This was a film my wife and I saw together ages ago in the theatre. We were part of an extreme minority who immediately enjoyed it. I loved the crime noir aspects which were both embraced and mocked, the soundtrack sounding like ambient leftovers from Ghostbusters, Johnny Depp’s hair, and the books. The scenes where Depp as Dean Corso caresses the pages of rare books, smells them, and grips the binding with surety are mesmerizing. I adore the attention to detail and how Polanski’s camera work refuses to be rushed. 


Emmanuelle Seigner, the rapist director’s wife, and Lena Olin put forth performances that are just off kilter enough to feel like quality but a moment of serious consideration leads one to conclude that no these are not good performances. Depp carries this movie. His Corso is craven, impatient, wily, amoral, attractive, and bored. This devil hunt will immediately draw comparisons with Rosemary’s Baby but doing so would sully both films. As the gumshoe Corso pieces together the puzzle of the fictional book, The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows supposedly written in the 17th century, we see him move from simply a dodgy bibliophile to a man obsessed not with the text but the effects it has on others. Seigner’s character, an unnamed stranger who coaxes Corso along as a sort of guardian angel, steals the film away from Depp at the end by embodying a kind of corruption at once banal and frightful manner. The final act of the film delivers a restrained madness leading Corso to what he ultimately desires.


A good flick that does exactly what it wants.

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