The Little ThingsOverview -
The Little Things is a new entrant into the serial killer movie category and tackles some fresh and new elements that are not usually revealed in these types of movies. With an all-star cast consisting of Denzel Washington, Jared Leto, and Rami Malek, this haunting little film is as atmospheric and thrilling as they come until it makes a hard left swerve out of nowhere and goes into a different direction. The 1080p HD transfer and DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix are stellar, and there are a couple of dry bonus features to boot. Recommended.
Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe "Deke" Deacon (Denzel Washington) is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a killer who is terrorizing the city. Leading the hunt, L.A. Sheriff Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), impressed with Deke's cop instincts, unofficially engages his help. But as they track the killer, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke's past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
[Excerpt from our original HBO Max review]
"First off, there is some folklore with this film that goes back all the way to 1993. This film was written by John Lee Hancock back in the early '90s, specifically for Steven Spielberg to direct, but he ultimately decided against it due to the extremely dark nature of the film. Over the years, the likes of Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, and Danny DeVito were all at some point attached to direct this film, but ultimately none of that happened. Hancock though ended up making The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks in the meantime, which eventually led him back to his 1993 script that everyone seemed to pass on and directed it himself. A perfectly capable filmmaker taking his written word and projecting it to the big screen is sometimes the ultimate goal, but maybe too much time had passed. Since so many serial killer films have been in the mainstream, The Little Things doesn't have quite the impact as it might have if was made back in the 90s.
In fact, The Little Things is eerily similar to David Fincher's Se7en in more than a few ways. Since that film, several directors have perfected the art of the serial killer story and tone. With the first two acts of The Little Things, it follows that formula to a tee and it succeeds in its haunting atmosphere, tense situations, and even relationships within the police department and families. The film follows Kern County Deputy Sherriff Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington), who is an older homicide detective who is basically retired to a rural county, dealing only in minor crimes. He is asked by his captain to head to Los Angeles to run a simple errand on a serial killer case that might have something to do with a previous case he was part of many years prior and has left him a broken man."
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Little Things investigates its way on Blu-ray from Warner Bros. in a single disc Blu-ray + Digital set. The disc is housed in a hard, plastic blue case with a cardboard sleeve featuring the artwork of the three actors of the film. There is an insert for a digital code and there are a couple of trailers that play before the main menu pops up.
The Little Things comes with a fantastic-looking 1080p HD transfer in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio and has a wonderful stylized color palette that exudes a moody serial killer vibe, along with some excellent detail.
The color spectrum is mostly dark with haunting blues, ghostly purples, and slimy greens through dank hallways and alleys as the two detectives hunt for their suspect. Interiors of apartments, labs, morgues, and police stations are appropriate in nature, but when in lower light situations, the colors are a little more muted, however bright bursts of color do appear on walls through posters or blood splatter. Denzel's tan police uniform and bright officer patch of red, yellow and blue do stand out nicely. As the film goes on, there are some halo-like blues from street lights and other neon signs in the quiet city. Just like its tone, the visual depth of color is dark and brooding. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are always natural as well.
None of the stylized color filters hinder the detail though, as close-ups reveal facial pores, wrinkles, stubble, individual hairs, and more in well-lit sequences. Even though this isn't a particularly gory film, there are some minor practical effects of wounds and gashes that look phenomenal. Perhaps the best detail comes with Leto's character as his unwashed and unkempt appearance brings out all those gooey details to the forefront. Wider shots never look soft and there were no major video problems to speak of.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and it sounds great. This is mostly a quiet-sounding film with a ton of haunting little effects throughout and it does its job perfectly, creating this scary serial killer landscape with all the appropriate noises. Sometimes an eerie silence is the best sound. With this film, the sound design is crafted in a way in that it slowly builds with softs sounds and effects and then crescendos harshly at certain moments for maximum effect. Sounds of vehicles driving by, gunshots, and a shovel sound exquisite here.
Ambient noises of people talking in the police station or on the street come through the rear speakers nicely too. The score brings on an elegant yet spooky vibe that enhances the film's tone as well. The dialogue is clean and clear in each scene and free of any audio problems. This is a very good audio track that never overpowers, but instead is subtle and makes its mark where it counts.
Only 18 minutes of bonus features are included here, including an EPK and an odd but fresh extra with film critics talking about Denzel's past acting roles.
- The Little Things: Four Shades Of Blue (HD, 10 Mins.) - A few film critics discuss via zoom, Denzel Washington's career, specifically in roles where he plays law enforcement with many clips of these movies shown. This transitions into The Little Things.
- A Contrast In Styles (HD, 8 Mins.) - A rather bland EPK with very brief interviews with the three lead actors and director as they talk, characters, tones, themes, and working on the film with each other. There are a ton of clips from the film throughout.
The Little Things is a smart and inventive serial killer drama that is thrilling, scary, and extremely well-acted. That is until it completely jumps the shark and goes into a strange direction that doesn't really make sense. There are some themes covered in this film that are wonderful and original and in those key instances, this movie is a winner, despite when it loses itself within its story. The video and audio presentations are both top-notch, but the two small extras don't provide any real substance. Recommended.
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