Director: Jared Cohn
Writer: Gabriel Campisi
Starring: Eric Balfour, Bianca A. Santos, Romeo Miller (Lil’ Romeo), Patrick Muldoon, Heather Tom, Marina Sirtis, Brendan Wayne
The town of Stillwater is ground zero for an age-old battle between the forces of good and evil. A ferocious and bloody attack on the eve of a major changing of the guard in werewolf world also heralds the passing of the torch (or Arthurian sword and cape) from one fearless protector of humanity to another, but the transition does not go smoothly. As the embattled Sheriff (Eric Balfour of BUFFY and HAVEN) tries to hold things together, a resurrected “crexy” zombie girl (Bianca Santos of THE FOSTERS) with the power to defeat the werewolves is the only hope when the horde of hairy beasts lays siege to the community.
From The Asylum that brought you SHARKNADO and Z NATION comes a new kind of hero and the perfect mash-up for a time when the superhero genre has dominated our media. This is most definitely an origin story and the first chapter in what could be a fun saga; the character was even developed, appropriately enough, via comic book artwork, so the DNA is definitely there. And yes, although we tend to focus on zombies around here, all horror is fair game and our titular titan is in fact a species of zombie – a really cute, sentient, and troubled sort akin to iZOMBIE‘s Liv Moore. So it’s all good!
It’s refreshing not to have Samantha leap in and pummel werewolves without any trouble. Her ultimate nemesis, the new Den Mother, is an imposing foe and not one that’s easily dispatched; this is going to take work, and before victory there is heartrending loss. As for the villain’s visual appearance, Mother may not be up to blockbuster CGI standards, but that’s to be expected.
The perfect mash-up for a time when the superhero genre has dominated our media; an origin story and the first chapter in what could be a fun saga.
Speaking of which, when a movie like this has obvious limitations, it has to rely on aspects of production like writing and performance to buoy the proceedings, and with a mix of earnest acting and nice quips, there’s no problem there. Balfour – whose hair product is a stellar co-star – provides a solid central presence and has nice rapport with the pint-size co-stars playing his kids; I also have to respect a man that runs on coffee. His participation is also appropriate given the movie’s BUFFY-esque nods. Patrick Muldoon has some funny moments (guess that brain sucking in STARSHIP TROOPERS didn’t affect him too badly), and Romeo Miller offers strong support as Samantha’s devoted boyfriend; he also gets one of the best meta lines when he notes that being in a “scary movie…doesn’t work out for me.”
There are effective and even dizzying camera moves, atmospheric forest and cavern settings that suit the tale’s folklorish origins, and propulsive opening and closing themes by composer Chris Cano that sell the superheroic motif. If I had one criticism, it’s that Samantha is a cipher; we never see what she was like before her resurrection. A bit of her normal life prior to her transformation – her life at school and with Danny – would have grounded her character that much more and given her transformation the extra touch of tragedy that usually accompanies the rise of a hero. However, once things get hairy (sorry), she’s more than capable of keeping you interested in her exploits.
There are effective and even dizzying camera moves, atmospheric forest and cavern settings, and propulsive opening and closing themes.
The movie also does a nice job of hitting all the familiar ’50s sci-fi beats – a small town under attack by a scourge from the (super)natural world, a dash of environmental commentary, local law enforcement discussing science and analyzing maps, and plucky young heroes. The fun and furry mayhem of LITTLE DEAD ROTTING HOOD is best summed up by star Bianca Santos herself, who in a behind-the-scenes interview refers to it as “zombie apocalypse slash werewolf fighting amazingness.” So where do we go next? Might I suggest a trip to the big city in LITTLE DEAD ROTTING HOOD 2: MOON OVER MANHATTAN? And while I can’t offer any proof, I’m happy that I pegged the identity of the main monster near the beginning. So watch for clues!