05th Oct2023

‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: May Kelly, Danielle Scott, Harry Boxley, Lila Lasso, Mark Sears, Charlie Esquire, Gillian Broderick, Gaston Alexander, Christine Ann Nyland | Written by Harry Boxley | Directed by Jason Arber

May Kelly, who has starred in a number of low-budget British horror films from producer Scott Jeffrey including seasonal horrors The Killing Tree and Nutcracker Massacre, and taken the lead in such diverse genre fare such as Graphic Desires and Mega Lightning, follows up her appearance in Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey with ANOTHER “fairy tale” fear flick in Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Based on the nursery rhyme of the same name, the plot of this film is pretty simple. A radio host (Kelly) and her crew set out to discover the truth behind some disappearances for a true crime show. They will soon learn that there is far more to discover when they meet Mary and her [not-so-little] lamb… Yes, Mary Had a Little Lamb is essentially a riff on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes and a myriad of backwoods horror – only this one features (as seen in the artwork above) a lamb-headed killer who is, frankly, more vicious than the killer bears that tormented May Kelly in that other fairy tale film!

Speaking of the bear film. Way back in April, when I was first sent details of this film AND another nursery rhyme horror, Three Blind Mice (review of that film coming soon), from the sales agent a certain filmmaker’s name was attached to the production of both movies; however, come the release and said filmmaker’s name is nowhere to be seen. Which is a shame because this film – at least for me – turned out to be a lot more grisly fun than the killer Pooh film is!

Taking its cue from a great “what if?” idea: who was the Mary who had a little lamb? Oh, and what if Mary’s lamb wasn’t so little and its fleece ran red with blood rather than being white as snow?! Because like a LOT of backwoods horror films, the killer isn’t really the one pulling the strings – Leatherface was controlled by his family, Pluto did whatever his clan told him to do. And Mary’s “little lamb” (her 36-year-old son) does whatever Mary tells him to do too! Which, given that Mary is a psycho, is “protecting his mother” aka pretty much just killing anyone that comes to their cottage in the woods!

Mary Had a Little Lamb comes from director Jason Arber, who previously worked on animation and effects for the likes of The Meg 2 and Kick-Ass. He’s also directed a number of shorts and music videos before this but it’s clearly his effects work that has influenced this film as there’s a real focus on the blood and guts of this tale – literally!

Arber directs a script from Harry Boxley, who also acts in the movie, and it’s a script that has clearly followed the slasher movie template as Mary Had a Little Lamb follows the structure of the much-maligned sub-genre to a tee. We have a prologue that sets the tone, complete with a gory set-piece; a slow introduction of our cast of characters – including May Kelly’s brilliant final girl, a role she embodies superbly, with a powerfully charged head-to-head showdown with “Mary” towards the film’s climax that really showcases her skills; and then further set piece deaths all leading to a climax that leaves things open to a sequel. And, given how much I truly enjoyed this film, I’d love to see one. Perhaps something akin to Tube Hopper’s Tim sequel? Go over the top on gore and bring back May Kelly as this franchise’s Stretch – a badass DJ who’s willing and able to fight back against Gaston Alexander’s Lamb?

What helps Mary Had a Little Lamb, besides two great performances – from May Kelly as the film’s heroine and Christine Ann Nyland as the titular (and psychopathic) Mary, who almost, ALMOST, steals the film from Kelly – is the swift running time. The film’s credits roll before the film gets near even the 80-minute mark, which means the script is lean and tight, with not a single second wasted. Even in the more slowly-paced opening, Boxley’s script keeps things moving – introducing our cast, the situation and then, before all hell breaks loose, the creepy locale in which all the action is to take place. All of which means Mary Had a Little Lamb is NEVER dull.

And neither is the titular “lamb”. It’s clear that, like Jason Vorhees, lamb wears a mask to hide his deformity but wow, what a mask. The effects work to produce such a gruesome visage has to be commended. Gaston Alexander’s lamb is the antithesis of the bear-faced killers of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey – those guys looked like cumbersome woodsmen wearing cheap rubber masks, this lamb is definitely not that. He’s one of the most badass new slasher movie villains I’ve seen in quite some time.

And that’s ultimately what I don’t get. When I was contacted by the aforementioned filmmaker about not associating his name with Mary Had a Little Lamb it was because this film (and The forthcoming Three Blind Mice as well for that matter) were, and I quote “significantly worse than my next fairy tale films”. I call bullshit. Well at least in the case of Mary Had a Little Lamb, because it’s certainly better than Pooh… by a country mile!

**** 4/5

Mary Had a Little Lamb is out now on digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.


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