Year released: 2003
Dir. David Morwick
Full disclosure: I watched this movie while stuck on the couch with an injured foot during a heatwave, laid out with a fan aimed at my head. At the time, it was more effort than I could muster to stop the movie and watch something else, so that much is on me. It was one of several movies selected at random, from Shudder’s list of films recommended for me by an algorithm. It was cinematic Russian Roulette, and this was one of the loaded chambers.
To give you an idea of my thought process while watching the movie, I will begin my review with the series of angry, kinda-sorta-heatstroke-y IMs to Jessica that are serving as my notes about the film. I make no apologies.
Max: Kinda budget nursery rhyme VO at beginning. reminds me of Nightmare b4 Xmas??
Max: College girls playing pattycake in opening, what does this dude think college is like
Max: Terrible dialogue, just bad
Jessica: I’m at work
Max: Killer got revealed right off bye bye tension
Max: this is the longest worst episode of Criminal Minds
Max: but Hotch is a college professor and everyone else is a dirtbag
Max: hahaha HE REMEMBERS THEIR HANDS WERE DIRTY
Max: I liked this ending better when it was in Halloween, and the final girl was Laurie Strode instead of Zack Morris’ stunt double
Jessica: Why are you like this?
God damn, this was a rough watch. Little Erin Merryweather was a first effort by writer/director/star Morwick, and it shows. Morwick and his team made a game effort to do something off the beaten track by identifying the killer pretty much right off the bat (hint: it’s the title character), and spending the movie revealing her thought process and motives. If I was being generous, I’d compare it to an introspection into the broken mind of a serial killer, a la Henry. I’m not. It’s hot, and I want to bang this out so I can go lie half-submerged in a tank of cold water, like a seal in an aquarium.
He tried and it backfired. The decision to make it thoroughly clear that the title character is the killer eliminated the only tension or suspense the movie had, leaving nothing to distract from the stiff acting, dubious script and formulaic ending. I won’t go through its many narrative sins, because honestly, it’s just not worth it to write or to read.
Still, the movie gets a few things right. It’s no mean feat to write, direct and star in your first movie, so Morwick gets some credit for sheer guts. Points as well for the killer’s makeup and costume – it was a unique look, and I don’t think I’ve seen a slasher dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood before. It was a clever gimmick to hang a movie on, but the execution was stale enough that it feels like it squandered whatever potential it might have had. I hope the director or someone inspired by this movie comes back to take another stab (hyuk) at the idea – that potential is still in there.
Rating: One grudging skeleton