Little Erin Merryweather
directed by David Morwick
(Three Stone, 2003)

You know, a lot of the classic fairy-tales are really quite dark stories, especially in their original form, what with witches trying to cook kids alive, girls being locked up in high towers, a girl being poisoned just for being beautiful and, of course, wolves stalking little girls in the woods and eating grandmothers. It seems only natural that a modern-day horror movie could be built around such a story, yet such a blending of reality and fantasy as what you see in Little Erin Merryweather is a breath of fresh air to the genre. This is a film that compels the viewer to watch it in a different if not unique way, and its element of high strangeness gives it a power all its own.

Little Erin Merryweather is a delightfully different kind of slasher movie, and as such it has even received some darn good critical reviews. As much as there is to like here, however, I think the film also suffers from a few slight weaknesses. The fact that you know the identity of the killer early on robs the film of some additional suspense, but I can't call this a criticism because the film clearly was never conceived as a whodunit. It's really a psychological character study of a most troubled personality. I didn't find the film all that disturbing, though. While we came to understand the killer and her motives, the story never really took us inside her deranged mind. In case you're wondering, those female references are not mistakes -- Little Erin Merryweather is the story of a female serial killer.

In terms of cinematography, this film has it going on. The opening scene is particularly well-done, as the canvas of snow on the ground really sets off the scarlet cape of our killer as she goes about luring a young man to his death. We never see any of the details of the killings, but there's almost something poetic about this first young man's death -- aside from his being disemboweled and all. The victim was a student at a nearby college, but Peter Bloom (David Morwick) seems to be the only one even slightly concerned about the murder. His two friends on the school newspaper are rather flippant about it, but they join Peter's bandwagon after a second male college student is found dead the next day. Local detective Joe Havey (Frank Ridley) knows how to bluster but little else, so he calls upon psychology professor Paula Sheffield (Elizabeth Callahan) for help. She eventually teams up with Peter and his friends to do some investigating of their own -- although Peter does make time to get something going with fellow student Erin Merryweather (Vigdis Anholt), a decision that proves to be even more dangerous than continuing his investigation of the murders.

Anholt is quite good in her pivotal role, especially on those occasions when she drops her character's mask to give us a glimpse of what lies behind it, but I'll just come right out and say that she appears to be too old for the part -- combine that with the obvious weirdness of her character, and I can't pretend to understand why Peter would be so attracted to her. They say love is blind, but if that were true I wouldn't still be single. But I digress. Getting back to the acting, I wasn't all that impressed with the central threesome of male characters, including Peter. I certainly would never have suspected that David Morwick was a classically trained actor who attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Morwick also wrote and directed the film, and I have no criticisms to make in either of those departments.

Even though I may not be quite as enthusiastic about Little Erin Merryweather as some other reviewers and critics, I would still recommend the film with no reservations, especially to horror/suspense fans looking for something a little off the beaten path.

review by
Daniel Jolley

16 October 2010

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