October Chills 2023: An Uncork’d Entertainment Double Feature “Mary Had a Little Lamb” & “Three Blind Mice”
Nursery rhymes as horror movies may seem strange, but in the right context, innocent childhood melodies can be quite spooky. In the world of cinematic chillers, soothing lullaby rhythms become terrifying warnings of monstrous danger, just ask fans of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.
This October, Uncork’d Entertainment released two low budget horror efforts based on long popular and classic nursery rhymes. The first, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, has a properly creepy atmosphere, but fails to find a creatively interesting path.
Carla (May Kelly) is the dedicated host of the true crime podcast, “Carla’s Cold Cases”. Ratings are down and she is given one week to find a worthy story to increase the audience. Leading her team into the deep woods to research the disappearance of a young couple, they meet a woman named Mary, who lives in isolation with her son, who she refers to as her “little lamb”.
Does a violent fate await them? Is Mary’s son mad and murderous? Of course! Mary’s “little lamb” is a monster in an actual sheep’s head who cares for his mother while, in his spare time, slicing up (and eating) victims, a’la Leatherface.
After a good start, the pacing becomes too relaxed and the scenes with Mary’s killer “little lamb” stalking his victims have no punch. While the film does keep its unnerving atmosphere going throughout, after a good build up, the picture eventually morphs into a by the numbers slasher flick. This genre can be fun in the right hands, yet writer Harry Boxley and director Jason Arber promise something more inventive, ultimately settling for cliched “did you hear that?” moments followed by uninspired scenes of murder. By the time we reach the finale that pays homage to (steals?) the last shot of Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, it all becomes an exercise in desperation.
“Mary Had a Little Lamb” could’ve had good horror movie fun in taking something sweet and making it terrifying. Unfortunately, the filmmakers thought they could get by on ideas alone. They did not.
Director Pierre B’s “Three Blind Mice” fares better, using its quest to subvert children’s nursery rhymes into something sinister to craft a horror film infused with a creative spark.
The film introduces Abi (May Kelly), a drug addict whose family stages intervention. To get her clean, Abi, her family, and her counselor relocate to that old horror chestnut, a remote cabin deep in the woods. Unfortunately for them (but fortunate for lovers of creature features), their cabin is too close to an abandoned laboratory where three blind mutated “humans” (victims of botched experiments who have mouse-like features) roam the woods in search of human flesh. The lab also holds a pack of actual sized mice who also search for victims. Eventually Abi and her clan are in mortal danger from creatures great and small.
Written by David Malcolm, the dialogue is stilted and the performances do nothing to help it (lead actress May Kelly wins the award for the worst screaming/crying in horror history), but the filmmakers make something entertaining out of a supremely silly premise.
The film contains some effective moments of tension, as the characters flee through the labyrinthine hallways of the deserted research facility with the three creatures in relentless pursuit. Pierre B. and his cinematographer Don Hopking achieve a good unnerving mood with the fog covered woods and the eerily lit lab and its dark tunnels. The visual tone keeps the film fueled with chills.
With a dedication to atmosphere and good gore FX and creature design, the film plays like a fun straight-to-video entry from the 1980s. “Three Blind Mice” is kooky and twisted and it works pretty well.
Mary Had a Little Lamb
NR, 74 Minutes, Dark Abyss Productions/Uncork’d Entertainment
Three Blind Mice
NR, 83 Minutes, Dark Abyss Productions/Uncork’d Entertainment