I have been watching a lot of found footage indie films recently, and while they have been pretty enjoyable for the most part, I’ve found that they all seem a bit cookie cutter when it comes to plot. I went into Jérôme Cohen-Olivar’s Little Horror Movie with much of the same expectations, not expecting to be blown away with what I was going to watch. I was pleased to find out that Little Horror Movie is a love letter to storytelling, filmmaking, and the horror genre.
Three Youtubers travel to the mythical city of Casablanca to shoot a travel show, oblivious to the horrors of this mysterious land that they will soon come face to face with.
Within the first five minutes of starting Little Horror Movie, I knew I was going to love it. It was very clear that this director and film crew knew what their priorities were and how to execute them. When making an independent film on a small budget, it is important to know how you want to use the money you have. A high quality camera and sound equipment is as crucial as the knowledge of the crew who are operating them. Little Horror Movie is a beautiful looking film with crisp visuals and impeccable sound design.
The opening shots in Brazil are warm and captivating, drawing the audience in immediately. Every inch of every frame is full and vibrant. The tension of the back alley chase that kicks off the movie draws you in, and from that moment on, the film never lets you go.
The editing and cinematography of Little Horror Movie is first class. The movie is a hybrid of found footage and cinematic, which is wonderfully mixed together to bring the audience the familiar POV feeling of found footage with the fly-on-the-wall qualities a traditional film garners. The angles and cuts used throughout the movie really show that each shot was meticulously planned by these truly talented filmmakers.
The film stars Estonia YouTuber Einar Kuusk (The Most Beautiful Day 2015) as Einar, the exasperated sound guy who is in a perpetual state of annoyance. He is always bickering with Cody Heuer’s (Proximity 2016) Mark, the lovable, affable comic relief, never stressed, no matter how grim things get. Rebecca Ramon (The Violet Blaze Chronicles 2018) plays the no nonsense leader of the pack and host of their YouTube-based travel show.
After attending the wedding and joining in on the ritualistic dancing, Helen begins to change. Mark and Einar try to put stop arguing long enough to help her, but the cards are stacked against them. Einar reveals to Mark that this is not Helen’s first encounter with demonic evil, as she slips further and further away into the hands of the possessing entity. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, Mrs. Frangier shows up and the story takes a twist you have to see to believe.
The supporting cast turned in some award worthy performances as well. Rosine Young (Les liaisons dangereuses 1980) plays the warm yet mysterious Mrs. Frangier who initially rents the Airbnb to the trio, and Abdellatif Chawki (The Red Moon 2013) portrays the tour guide that brings the group to what was supposed to be a “traditional Moroccan wedding,” an event that starts the ball rolling in this insane and gorgeous tale of possession with a distinctly North African twist.
Shot on the streets of Casablanca, Little Horror Movie teaches us a lesson on how this part of the world deals with other countries’ views on evil spirits, and how they deal with people who are afflicted by them.
After consulting with a Moroccan friend of mine, expat M’hamed Bakkari who grew up well to do in the streets of Casablanca, he was able to educate me on every scene shot in the city. I was astonished to learn of the intricate history and accuracy of the film’s descriptions of each depicted place, especially the one called a Bouya. The Bouya it turns out is a real place that to this day is populated by those who have been deemed possessed. The most well-known Bouya is the Bouya Omar Mausoleum, a terrifying place where low class, uneducated, poverty-stricken people with no money for treatment for their mental health issues are labelled possessed. These unfortunate souls are left to decay in their affliction/insanity. This is the last place a foreigner would want to end up.
Little Horror Movie impressed me in so many ways. I ran the gamut of emotion while watching this film, from the character’s filmmaking discussions to their horror movie references. The story is impeccably written, the characters are very well developed, and the actors all turn out phenomenal performances. There are a lot of funny moments in the movie that work well to balance out the horror. This isn’t a horror comedy, but its comedy – mainly between Mark and Einar – does serve as character development. We see what could have been a one dimensional relationship between the two grown men and it makes you realize that their constant arguing is just a trait of their underlying true friendship.
Little Horror Movie stands out from the crowd and is now one of my favorite new horror movies of 2018. I highly recommend that everyone sees it!