The first thing to note in this review of 2016’s Little Dead Rotting Hood is that this is a film from the illustrious Asylum. If you’re not familiar with the Asylum – and goodness, how could you not be? – they are the production company behind upcoming entries as Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens and Independents’ Day.
Little Dead Rotting Hood is directed by Jared Cohn from a screenplay by Gabriel Campisi. Cohn is a fairly active filmmaker in the Asylum stable, having helmed 2013’s Atlantic Rim and the 2012 horror flick 12/12/12. By now, most readers probably have all the information required to make a decision about Little Dead Rotting Hood. But in the interest of fairness and amusement, there’s more to discuss.
Bianca A. Santos stars as Samantha and she has the distinction of being attacked by a wolf about a minute into the picture. Her grandmother (Marina Sirtis) does some hocus pocus to turn her granddaughter into the Keeper of the Forest, which essentially involves a red cloak, a sword and some special wolfy powers.
When wolves start killing folks, the sheriff Adam (Eric Balfour) tries to figure out what’s going on. Samantha’s boyfriend Danny (Romeo Miller) assists, while officer Victoria (Heather Tom) is also in the mix. Before long, Samantha’s true purpose as the Keeper of the Forest is realized and some other stuff happens.
As is generally the case with C-movies of this ilk, Little Dead Rotting Hood relies on tepid CGI and a whole lot of weirdly shot action sequences to put some spice in the sauce. The cinematography from Laura Beth Love doesn’t bother much by way of ingenuity and the production values are about par for the course.
While it’s tempting to shrug and lower the bar for Little Dead Rotting Hood on the basis of its background, there is still a movie here and some of it’s not awful. Cohn’s commitment to camp is laudable, even if this Asylum production doesn’t aspire to Sharknado levels of exaggeration and/or artifice.
And there’s some sex appeal, as the film traipses through the “punish the young” tropes that became so conversant in the slasher movies of the 1970s. Literally every character to engage in some sort of sexual encounter is attacked by wolves, whether it’s the bra-wearing champion of woodsy groping or the divine Ashley Doris in the altogether.
This tendency becomes comical, especially as the wolf attacks are all the same. Cohn really seems to take pleasure in going for the jugular and that accounts for the vast majority of the flick’s graphic violence. There aren’t any notable kills, as characters thrash on the ground in waves of blood and screaming as the computer-generated canine gnaws away.
It’s a reach to suggest that Little Dead Rotting Hood has more to offer than superficial delights, but there are no designs at something behind the façade. Cohn and Co. have made a scrappy, unfussy horror movie that somehow ends up being more entertaining than a lot of mainline big budget fare.
There isn’t a moment of Little Dead Rotting Hood that cries out for gravity, even as it flirts with science fiction, fantasy and horror clichés. Its inborn emptiness can be frustrating, especially when character development goes underserved and a well-intentioned ecological point is merely flirted with.
For all this pointless rummaging, there is inevitable truth: Little Dead Rotting Hood isn’t good. The acting is dippy, the special effects are cheap, the plot is unsteady, the cinematography is bland, and the elements don’t come together at all. But there are wolves and claws and boobs and a sword, which suggests an integrity of intent that’s actually worth something in this topsy-turvy world.