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The Little Things: A creepy and atmospheric serial killer drama

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Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Rami Malek probably didn’t team up in this well-done criminal case from the 1990s. You play as two cops who try to track down a murderer after a series of glaring murders.

Although « The Little Things » was « dumped » in January, it is a decent but humble serial killer thriller.

In this well-done criminal case from the 1990s, Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Rami Malek probably didn’t team up. You play as two cops who try to track down a murderer after a series of glaring murders.

Washington plays Joe « Deke » Deacon, a retired detective who now holds a lower assistant position in a rural community. The job seems like a downgrade, but Deke seems to be taking it easy now with his salad days firmly in the background. But when he reluctantly returns to Los Angeles for evidence on another case, he finds himself embroiled in a new homicide investigation, titled « Hot Bot, » of rising star Jim Baxter (Malek).

Deke cannot resist the chance to revert to his old ways, even if it is those techniques that cost him his marriage and maybe even his sanity. But when Baxter learns Deke is in town, he desperately wants some wise advice from the famous old lawyer. After some questionable detective work while the bodies pile up, their focus is on the strange Albert Sparma played by another Oscar winner, Jared Leto.

« The Little Things », written and directed by John Lee Hancock (see « The Blind Side » and « The Founder »), is inevitably compared to David Fincher’s « Se7en ». But such comparisons are a little unfair. Every serial killer film suffers the same comparative fate. And Hancock doesn’t run away from the similarities that the murders have an explicit and ugly visual quality that is often simply shot and staged in dirty places. Fortunately, there is an under-tricked mythology associated with the murders, which happen somewhat by chance.

As the mystery swirls around in « The Little Things », the threesome gets into a battle of wills. The younger man, Baxter, may be a detective prodigy, but Dke’s old-fashioned craft proves helpful. It’s refreshing that Hancock’s script doesn’t use the rivalry nonsense between old and young. In this story, Baxter is only interested in closing the case, even if Deke solves the crime.

For their characters, Washington and Leto both adopt potbellies, which are likely the result of consuming way too much cheap beer. While Leto looks terrible in a pear shape, the extra pounds suit Washington’s 66-year-old mature personality. Malek is almost too thoughtful, but there’s enough chemistry with Washington to keep people busy. What ultimately works about the film is the characterizations and the creepy atmosphere, combined with a slightly unexpected final twist.

If you’re into the serial killer genre, « The Little Things » would make a killer pun with a touch of Netflix’s « Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer ». This series, as the poster suggests, could result in locking your doors. What reveals to me after a harrowing watch from « Night Stalker » is that nothing in fiction can ever be as scary as what happens in the real world.

Jonathan W. Hickman, a RottenTomatoes.com Tomatometer Recognized Reviewer, is also a consumer electronics attorney, college professor, novelist, and filmmaker. He is a member of the Atlanta Film Critics Circle, the Southeastern Film Critics Association, and the Georgia Film Critics Association. For more information about Jonathan please visit: FilmProductionLaw.com or DailyFIlmFix.com

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