THE LITTLE DEATH (2015)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 37 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

LittleDeath poster

Directed by: Josh Lawson

Written by: Josh Lawson

Starring: Josh Lawson, Bojana Novakovic, Damon Herriman, Kate Mulvany, Kate Box, Patrick Brammall, Alan Dukes, Lisa McCune, Erin James & TJ Power

THE LITTLE DEATH is a movie determined to push tasteful boundaries from the get-go. The title (which literally means orgasm) and suggestive promotional material are the tip of the iceberg for this dark ensemble comedy. The film goes through five different couples exploring taboo sexual areas. These include various fetishes, role-playing, and uncomfortable situations. We all have our kinky turn-ons (whether you want to admit to that or not), but THE LITTLE DEATH is an anthology that thrives on bringing out a darker/funnier view to these turn-ons. The film isn’t really one big story but instead composed of intersecting plotlines that could have made for great College Humor skits by themselves. Instead, they wound up in this feature which is both a blessing and a slight curse. I’m going to give my brief (spoiler free) thoughts on each segment and then rank the film as an overall effort. So without further ado…

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PAUL & MAEVE: Paul and Maeve have been boyfriend and girlfriend for six years. Paul has a foot fetish and that by itself seems to be sole odd extent of their sex-life…until Maeve reveals that she’s always had a rape fantasy and wants Paul to make it a reality. Paul is more than a little out of his element and reluctantly tries to please his significant other. Out of all the stories in THE LITTLE DEATH, this is without a doubt the best one. It’s well written and manages to carefully walk that tightrope between shocking and sweet. There are actual character arcs as well as genuine laughs and a satisfying conclusion…which is more than I can say for the rest of the plot lines. A

LittleDeath 2

DAN & EVIE: A sexless marriage quickly becomes passionate again when the couple try roleplaying out for size. It reinvigorates their flame, but the husband seems to take the acting part a bit too seriously at the risk of ignoring his wife’s needs. This storyline started off strong and proceeded to lose steam with each passing second. There really doesn’t seem to be a character arc for either of these people and though there are some laughs, this segment gets downright depressing. There’s dark comedy and then there’s just being needlessly dark. B-

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RICHARD & ROWENA: If you thought that last storyline sounded dark, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Richard & Rowena are trying to have a baby. Their efforts seem fruitless until a tragedy occurs and Rowena finds that’s she’s turned on by Richard’s tears. This leads to her doing all sorts of cruel antics to get him to cry on a daily basis. Much like the last segment, this storyline doesn’t exactly have a great resolution. Unlike the last segment, it contains a lot more laughs…albeit for viewers with a really twisted sense of humor. It’s the darkest of dark comedy and the second best story of the bunch. B+

PHIL & MAUREEN: This segment sounds almost like a repeat of Richard & Rowena storyline, but with sleep being the turn-on and a middle-aged husband committing the questionable deeds. This segment sort of reminded me slightly of Dylan Baker’s character from HAPPINESS to a degree. The main character isn’t someone you should be rooting for. However, this storyline seemingly does the impossible and injects a sense of sadness about a marriage gone terribly wrong over the years. The conclusion isn’t necessarily uplifting, but the only possible way that this story could have ended given the content. B

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MONICA & SAM: LITTLE DEATH ends on its weakest note. Instead of wrapping around the other stories, Monica & Sam just sort of concludes the whole movie in a lackluster fashion. Monica is a woman who translates phone calls for the deaf. When Sam (a deaf man) has her call a sex hotline, things get awkward as she tries to translate the graphic language for both Sam and the sex line operator. This segment goes on for what seemed like 20 minutes. Though there are a couple of good laughs, it feels cheap and lazy. I also couldn’t help but feel that the overly sentimental climax was false as well. C

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Each of these storylines connects by being set on the same block, complete with one brilliant and hilariously distasteful (for a number of reasons) running joke that I won’t ruin in this review. THE LITTLE DEATH mixes severely dark humor with tender emotion (some rings true and some feels false). I really wish that all of the stories played out as well as the Paul & Maeve plot, because then we’d really have something truly special on our hands. As a whole, the film suffers from trying to do too many things at once to varying degrees of success. These problems don’t detract from the overall quality as much as you’d expect, but they take their toll. The good stories outweigh the bad ones, even if they each have individual faults. As far as sexually graphic movies released in 2015 go, I’d take THE LITTLE DEATH over FIFTY SHADES OF GREY any day of the week. Face it, you already know whether this movie is for you or not…even if you won’t publicly admit the answer.

Grade: B

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