The Little Things follows a worn deputy who reluctantly becomes involved in an investigation at his old precinct when a serial killer wreaks havoc on the city.
The Little Things Review
The Little Things is carried by its performances in spite of its dragging plot in which we get little in the way of the manifestation or realization of the murders committed by the serial killer. It is slow and drab, but still captivating because of its powerful talent.
The Little Things feels like the perfect movie for Denzel Washington to show off his stuff, and he does, but the film is a strong reminder for just how good of an actor Jared Leto can be. He does an incredible job of embodying the infamous sociopathic serial killers of our history with quiet yet sadistic demeanor. Every word he speaks is ego masked as meekness, as insult hidden behind respect. His slight and somber slouch with his lifeless gaze pervades every scene with an atmosphere of disgust and hatred. It's the grotesque beauty in the performance that steals every scene.
But the plot is a big of a slog. The film is purposefully slow in its build and reveals, heavily dependent on its hope that you will be helplessly craving answers and a resolution. Unfortunately, this film's resolutions and final act are purposefully disappointing, leading to a particularly upsetting feeling when the film is over because it feels like your patience was all for not. The film lacks the power and pace to be rewarding without an impactful ending, and the creators seem to know it. They want to let you down, just like the characters, and that's a painful realization to deal with.
It is really hard to judge a movie that leaves you disappointed when the point of the movie was to leave you in that state. The Little Things achieves its goal of leaving you in a disjointed, saddened state with a similar efficacy to that of Hereditary, but without the heavy and well-crafted darkness that Ari Aster produces. Instead, you feel like you wasted your time, like the whole point was for you to feel that way. So, yes, there is respect for the film's ability to achieve its goal, but anger that it was the intent.
The whole of the story doesn't feel particularly special or passionately crafted beyond the performances. The writing and directing is mostly predictable outside of its controversial final act, feeling more like a paint-by-numbers murder mystery than a reliable Denzel vehicle. While you can certainly still appreciate his presence on screen, it makes you wonder what great properties he could still be a part of in his career rather than lavishing praise at the film he is a part of in the moment.
Dark dramas like this one can sometimes grace the horror/thriller arena, but outside of Leto's quiet yet haunting performance, there is little in the realm of horror to satisfy fans. Look elsewhere if you're looking for something that can more viscerally breach the psyche of a killer. But if you like to tease the boundaries of horror as I sometimes do, this one may be worth your time for the thought-provoking elements, despite your need for patience towards the pacing and moral lesson.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 6/10