It’s more than four decades now since the likes of Tobe Hooper and Wes Craven busted down the doors of Hollywood with their independent horror movies, redefining the genre in irreversible ways. There are now a thousand and one Texas Chainsaw Massacre clones for every The Woman in Black, and when you’re low on budget the temptation to do yet another mad-axeman-in-the-woods – rather than something classier and more thoughtful – can be overpowering. But if you don’t want to be as lost among the foliage as your protagonists undoubtedly will be, you need a concept, visual or performance that’s going to make an audience take notice. Something memorable, defining, invocative. The kind of thing that, for all its faults and despite all the imitations, The Blair Witch Project had in spades. The kind of thing that My Little Sister, alas, sorely lacks.
Taking its cue from Hooper’s 1974 classic, and complete with its very own Leatherface, the Del Piccolos’ film actually won Best Horror Feature at the 2016 Italian “International Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Show.” Which presumably means there was little else on offer, because My Little Sister is unlikely to win any other awards.
The film starts with two couples trying to find each other in the woods somewhere unidentified. Actually, that’s a lie; the film starts with a titles sequence featuring the ersatz Leatherface’s mad mother wandering the forest trying to make out with the fallen autumn leaves, then opens proper with the first of two gratuitous nude scenes in which Sofia Pauly as Nadine watches her boyfriend having his face sliced off while topless, before escaping to reappear 45 minutes later just when she’s most needed in the plot. We then switch to Tom and Sheila (yes, Sheila – the Italian screenwriter’s grasp of the English-speaking world really is that poor; there’s also a newspaper cutting that’s possibly the film’s only so-bad-it’s-funny moment), who take Ben (David White, another indeterminately non-American)’s advice to get the hell out of dodge as the cue for the second gratuitous nude scene instead. Of course, if they’d got the hell out of dodge, we wouldn’t be here to speak about the rest of the film. Texas or not, you can guess the rest.
It’s not all bad. A couple of sequences almost manage real tension, and as played by Holli Dillon, our Sheila is almost a good reason to stay till the end credits. But the tempo is all over the place, there are some stupendous non-sequiturs in the plotting, and the absence of ADR in certain scenes renders a couple of fairly lengthy ones almost entirely unintelligible. With the best will in the world, this is barely even a drunken Friday-nighter.
Special Features: Short film: The Intruder / Making of Acid Burned Face / Interviews / Music Video / Trailer
MY LITTLE SISTER / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: MAURIZIO DEL PICCOLO, ROBERTO DEL PICCOLO / SCREENPLAY: ROBERTO DEL PICCOLO / STARRING: HOLLI DILLON, SAVERIO PERCUDANI, MATTIA ROSELLINI, SOFIA PAULY / RELEASE DATE: 13TH MARCH