Little Deaths (2013)

Little Deaths is billed as an anthology film, comprising of three stories, all exploring the intrinsically linked themes of sex and death. The title itself, from the French slang term for orgasm ‘la petite mort’, is perhaps the cleverest and most interesting thing about this depressing and amateurish affair, however.

Unlike traditional anthology films, Little Deaths is linked only by the themes contained within, there’s no introductory segment and no running story-line to guide us along or to check back in with. I can’t help but suspect that each story would have worked better chopped to half the length and viewed as a completely separate short film. As a whole they are disparate and don’t work very well together.

First up we have ‘House and Home’ from Sean Hogan, who also directed the vastly superior The Devil’s Business. It revolves around a religious, prim and proper, middle class couple who are soon revealed to be in the habit of inviting young homeless girls into their home only to toy with them sexually. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that in this instance the girl they’ve opened their home to has a few nasty secrets of her own.

The acting in ‘House and Home’ is actually among the best in the whole film, and for their part, each of the actors fulfills their role satisfactorily, with Holly Lucas being the only potential standout. The story is wafer thin though, and unfolds in a very obvious and expected way with few surprises in store for anyone familiar with this kind of a film which is a shame as there is at least a little promise there.

The middle segment, ‘Mutant Tool’ (Andrew Parkinson) is the worst of the bunch. At best it serves as an infantile, confused tale of Nazi experimentation and addiction and at worst is an ugly, convoluted, poorly made excuse to show a restrained “mutant” with a horse cock. Rather than coming across as an integral cog in an intelligent machine, it appears as though its sole inclusion was to provoke a schoolboy sniggering amongst the sort of people who blush when they say the word ‘penis’ out loud, and nothing more.

The casting is misjudged, the acting mediocre and the direction jarring. It’s uncompelling and outstays its welcome long before the end.

Finally, we have Simon Rumley‘s segment. ‘Bitch’ is head and shoulders above the previous two stories but still suffers from a lack of any real artistic merit and the intended shock value is largely stripped away by tremendously badly judged use of sound in its final act.

It revolves around a couple who find themselves embroiled in a fragile relationship that’s simultaneously hinged on, but also threatened by, the young woman’s sado-masochistic tendencies and crippling fear of dogs (‘Bitch’, geddit?) and the young man’s resistance to her more domineering and promiscuous side.

Rumley has at least managed to extract the best performances of the piece and has written the most coherent and compelling story but his aggressive use of filters is a failed experiment in style and lends the film a cheap look that might have been avoided without them. The characters are fleshed out well and the leads are convincing, but the story never gains any real traction before it reaches its terrifically nasty, yet predictable, climax.

Little Deaths promises to be nasty, gritty, deplorable and an uncomfortable experience to sit through, and it is absolutely all of these things, but not quite in the ways the makers intended. It’s an interesting premise that, for the most part, is executed staggeringly poorly. The best word to describe the film as a whole is repellent, so with that in mind, I can only really advise you to avoid this and seek out the myriad of short films in existence that tackle the subject matter more intelligently and far more shockingly than here.

As an even starker warning for those susceptible to misleading marketing, if you’re planning on watching this for the Megan Fox-alike on the cover art, please avoid even harder.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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