My Little Sister (reviewed by Lisa Marie Bowman)

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If there’s anything that I’ve learned, from my long history of watching horror films, it’s that only fools go camping.  Seriously, nothing good ever comes from wandering around in the woods or sleeping in a tent.  Inevitably, you’re either going to attacked by a zombie while you’re skinny dipping in the nearby pond or a man with a machete is going to show up while everyone’s busy having sex in a tent.  In short, nudity and the great outdoors equals death.

And really, it makes sense.  When you’re camping, you’re in an isolated place and you are totally at the mercy of the elements, the killers, and occasionally the zombies.  There’s a reason why so many horror films center around unlucky campers.  Because, seriously, camping is terrifying!

Just check out My Little Sister, for instance.

My Little Sister is the latest film from directors Roberto and Maurizio del Piccolo.  It opens in the wilderness, with shots of an old woman wandering through the woods.  The old woman looks happy but it’s a disturbing sort of happiness.  First off, she’s wearing a nightgown, which isn’t exactly the most practical wandering around in the woods outfit.  Secondly, her wrists are heavily bandaged.  And finally, she doesn’t really seem to have an easily identifiable reason for being out there in the woods.  She spends a while picking up leaves and smiling at them.  Occasionally, she crawls around in the dirty.  As we watch her, we occasionally cut to black-and-white photographs of an unhappy looking family and headlines about missing tourists.

While the old woman plays with leaves, something far more disturbing is happening in a nearby house.  In one room, a bound and terrified woman (Sofia Pauly) watches as her boyfriend is murdered and another woman is killed with a weed whacker.  Doing the killing is a hunched over, grunting man (Saverio Percudani) who appears to be horribly disfigured…

In another room of the house, an unmoving figure sits in front of a TV and watches grainy footage of a young girl holding an older man a bottle of what appears to be water.  The man pours the liquid on his face and suddenly starts to scream.  Hmmm…apparently, it wasn’t water…

Meanwhile, in the woods, campers Sheila (Holli Dillon) and Tom (Mattia Rossellini) watch as the old woman plays with the leaves and they laugh at her, which may seem mean but I think most of us would probably do the same thing.  Sheila and Tom are supposed to meet up with their friends but their friends are nowhere to be seen.  Instead, there’s just an empty campsite and an eccentric woodsman (David White) warning them to beware of someone that he calls the little sister…

Of course, all of these storylines converge but I’m not going to tell you how.  You may think that you’ve figured out some of it just by reading the review up to this point but My Little Sister has a few surprises up its sleeve.  There’s a little twist at the end that my horror-loving soul absolutely loved.  Let’s just say that, in this film, no one is every truly safe.

My Little Sister plays out like a mix of Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and — believe it or not — Sinister.  At its best, My Little Sister achieves a dreamlike intensity.  The wilderness is filmed to look both beautiful and threatening at the same time and the scenes in the house, in particular, are pure nightmare fuel.  When it comes to a film like this, the effectiveness depends on how much you care about the potential victims and fortunately, both Holli Dillon and Sofia Pauly give totally believable, sympathetic, and relatable performances.  As I watched them try to survive, I kept wondering what I would do if I found myself in the same situation.  I doubt it would end well.

Finally, there’s no way I can finish this review without making a special mention of Lucia Castellano, who gives a really good and genuinely surprising performance as the crazy old woman in the wilderness.  She is both frightening and sympathetic at the same time.

My Little Sister is a brutally effective and entertaining horror film.  Keep an eye out for it!

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