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Little Cuts

average rating is 4 out of 5


Rob Jones


Posted on:

Mar 24, 2023

Film Reviews
Little Cuts
Directed by:
Maia Henkin
Written by:
Maia Henkin
Elise Greene, Maia Henkin

Horror is a unique genre in that it has to keep reinventing itself to carry its own weight. Because a lot of the purpose of it is to create a sense of fear and dread, it simply can’t just plod along doing the same thing it always has because we get desensitised to it all too easily, and recent trends have shown a bad side to that. In trying to subvert expectations, a lot of modern horrors can accidentally come across as satirical, or like they’re constantly shapeshifting in an attempt to shock us in any way they can. Little Cuts is a really interesting example of how a film can achieve something like that in a way that feels a bit more natural and refreshing. It plays into some of the genre’s oldest tropes but it does it in a way that creates an effect of a level of subversion swinging back and forth between two characters, and it’s a really interesting film because of it.


It starts with a familiar shot, our two characters are at the tail end of a road trip which lands them in a cabin in the woods type setting. The cabin in question is quite a bit nicer than usual and they get there during beautiful sunshine, two minor details that do a good job of signalling that this isn’t your typical genre film already. It continues like that for quite some time as we slowly see more of the dynamic between the characters revealed. They’re long-term best friends, but one is far keener on their friendship than the other. Both are set up in such a way they could easily snap at any moment and as a viewer, there’s a lot of empathy to be had with either of them if they do.


It does run out of steam towards the end when the big reveal happens, but that’s partly because the little clues that we get for where it all might be going are just so much better than any pay off for it could be - nothing lives up to the theories we make ourselves. It's as if the tension is being held together in one place by not knowing where this is all going, and then once we do it just dissipates. There are promises throughout of it veering into the slasher genre and it doesn’t quite go that far, but it does share a common problem: the reveal of the villain is never quite as fun as all of the groundwork that comes before it. That said, it only feels like such a drastic drop in tension because the first two-thirds really are that good.


Little Cuts is a highly appropriate title for this film as all of the drama and the confrontation of it comes from a series of things that we might consider inconsequential in everyday life, but in being compounded over time they make a huge difference. There’s genuine nuance in the concept, and as a result, it’s a rich film which does manage to create a real emotional sense of danger. In the short time that we get to know these characters it’s so easy to feel yourself beginning to care about them both.


If the mark of a good genre film is to stand up even when the frivolities of the genre are stripped away, then this is certainly a good genre film.

About the Film Critic
Rob Jones
Rob Jones
Short Film
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