There’s something deeply satisfying about watching your favorite childhood stories turn into something spooky and sinister. After all, most of these retellings were based on fables or urban legends whose endings didn’t exactly end with true love’s first kiss. And it looks like this trend of turning whimsical children’s stories into something more bloody and sadistic is just beginning. After it was announced that Winnie the Pooh would be murdering teenagers in cold blood, another beloved children’s book character was revealed to be getting the slasher treatment: The Grinch.
Years after her mother was killed by a green creature on Christmas Eve, Cindy (Krystle Martin) returns to her hometown, Newville, and finds the town completely changed. Christmas decorations are banned, and no one wants to talk about what happened to her 20 years ago. But once the killings happen again, Cindy finds the courage to face her fears and sets out to kill what is only referred to as “The Mean One.”
“Slashing through the snow.”
Steven LaMorte’s The Mean One is an entirely unauthorized parody. He and screenwriters Flip Kobler and Finn Kobler tweaked the story to ensure that it didn’t have any language from Dr. Seuss’s original tale.
A green humanoid Christmas-hating creature that lives in the mountains has so much potential for a horror adaptation. Christmas horror is such a fun genre, and with cheesy Hallmark movies ripe for riffing on, The Mean One had all the ingredients to be a hit. Unfortunately, it’s anything but.
To put it frankly, The Mean One is boring. You have the typical small-town ensemble: a sheriff who feels like he’s failed his town, the evil mayor who pretends the killings aren’t happening, and the dopey, puppy-eyed policeman who turns into the love interest. However, the plot is barer than bare-bones, and the characters mimic stick figures. They look so unnatural in their surroundings that it feels like the actors just wandered onto the set and started talking. The only character worth watching for is “The Mean One” himself, and even he is utterly wasted.
The bottom line.
David Howard Thornton took the horror genre by storm as the maniacal Art the Clown in this year’s Terrifier 2. He brings some of that exaggerated body language into “The Mean One.” Unfortunately, he rarely makes an appearance, and when he does, the scenes are incredibly lackluster. Holiday horror is an excellent opportunity to concoct some imaginative kills, but the most exciting set-up is seeing a body with colorful bows stabbed through the eyes. Everything else is bland by comparison.
The Mean One should be a bloody romp, but there isn’t enough heat to spark any enjoyment. Micro-budget films — especially in this genre — can be great because the characters and story distract from the lesser elements. However, that cannot be said for The Mean One. The CGI blood splatters, stock footage, and bad soundtrack placement make for a truly uncomfortable experience that constantly takes you out of the film — not that there was much to immerse yourself in the first place. For now, you might want to just stick to the 1960s cartoon.
The Mean One will open in theaters on December 9 through Atlas Film Distribution. Watch the trailer here.
THE MEAN ONE - 1/10