ANKLE BITERS (2021) Reviews of creepy kids dark comedy

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‘Love is not what it looks like…’
Ankle Biters is a 2021 comedy horror film about four little girls who plot to murder a hockey player who has been making love to their mom; they mistake the couple’s carnal activities for an attack on their mom. Originally known as Cherrypicker

Written and directed by Bennet De Brabandere from a story co-written with Zion Forrest Lee.

The Canadian B Plus Films-Flax Films co-production stars Zion Forrest Lee, Marianthi Evans, Colin Mochrie and Matia Jackett.

Our review:
Filmmaker Bennet De Brabandere’s black comedy commences with a dynamic rock ‘n’ roll credit sequence of an arena-hockey brawl that leaves a torn-out eyeball on the ice. The resulting dark farce escalates from there, and as one knows, there is sometimes a thin line between the truly provocative and the merely tasteless – although if you have come to this website unbidden, chances are the visual will not be much of a dealbreaker.

Sean Chase (Zion Forrest Lee) is a Canadian hockey star and the attacker in the aforementioned eye-gouging arena fight. He now is in a love affair with widow Laura (Marianthi Edwards), who comes already with four adorable-looking little girls (portrayed by the four real-life Reid sisters), understandably suspicious of the new man in their mom’s life. But Sean and Laura have a close emotional bond: they both enjoy rough stuff with each other in the bedroom.

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At a lakeside idyll where Sean intends to propose marriage to Laura, the tots are horrorstruck to find the couples’ homemade hookup video and falsely believe Sean is abusing their mum. Led by alpha sister Rosalie (Rosalie Reid), who is showing a precocious cruelty streak, the children conspire against Sean. They also set upon their new babysitter Matia (Matia Jackett), an adolescent neighbour, hardly older than they are, whose own lifelong relationship with friendly Sean is starting to look dodgy.

We already know from the opening cemetery scene that this will not end well. Come to think of it, from the eyeball-on-the-ice scene we know this will not end well.

Actors do well indeed at this cheeky gruesomeness, especially the spooky kids. An ultimately uncompromised, pessimistic attitude separates the handsomely shot but modest-budget Ankle Biters from the likes of big-studio dark comedies such as Teaching Mrs Tingle or even the Scream series, in which millions of dollars are riding on an ending that winds up feeling like it was chosen as the least offensive option by teen-oriented marketing-focus groups (and, in fact, probably were). Ankle Biters at least sticks by its nasty notions of morality and justice to the bitter end.

And, as for years the late-blooming Canadian cinema suffered under the stereotype of being but an overeager attempt to copy American cinema (horror-prone filmmaker David Cronenberg being a groundbreaking standout), here is an exception that will certainly, uh, catch your eye.
Charles Cassady Jr, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“This one was a wild ride seeing how far they went to protect their mother from Sean. These little girls coming up with the plot on the spot to hurt who they had too was unreal. The mind of a child is vast and this film drove into it. I give this one an 8 out of 10, great story, and the girls did a fantastic job playing the parts they did.” Drop the Spotlight

“Because their movie doesn’t have to cater to a family audience — or any audience, really — they relish the freedom to be savage. I was with them almost all the way. You may not like where it goes, but as it crosses the line of good taste — once, twice, three times, who’s counting? — you certainly can’t accuse it of wussing out.” Flick Attack

Ankle Biters is a pleasant mix of horror and dark comedy that keeps you on your toes as the kids wage war on their mom’s boyfriend who has a vicious streak himself. While the kids are deranged, they are also clever and all four young actresses do a fantastic job of playing convincing budding killers.” Horror Fuel

Ankle Biters is a weird, amusing, unsettling movie that had the potential to be something more than it is, but as it is it’s quirky and entertaining enough to be worth checking out.” JoBlo

“The cinematography from Carl Ester (A Northern Song) is solid […] The final act, too… the climax to the movie, is a butt-load of wacky fun. I think there are some pretty significant issues with Ankle Biters, but there’s enough good stuff going on to make it worth dealing with them. Maybe give it a shot, but be willing to take the poor bits with the good.” Nerdly

” …Ankle Biters is a fun and completely twisted cinematic treat…” Reel Reviews

“Violence perpetrated by children always hits you in the gut far more viscerally, and these little monsters seem both fully aware of the effects of their acts, and yet, as long as their mommy promises never to leave, they’ll let their guilt melt away. Starting fairly dark and getting darker with each passing scene, Ankle Biters doesn’t let up until everyone has blood on their bodies or hands.” Screen Anarchy

“A deliciously dark comedy, Ankle Biters […] has a streak of nihilism to it (also in its surprise shock ending), but has set out to above all entertain – which it does thanks to a script full of twists and surprises, a direction that keeps flowing at a steady pace, and a very competent relatable ensemble cast.” Search My Trash

“While the practical effects are pretty good, the standouts in this movie are clearly the Reid sisters (Lily, Violet, Rosalee, and Dahlia). They manage to convey the winsomeness and feral grit that combine to make up the foundational character of a young girl […] The plot leaves some loose ends untied […] But the climax is absolutely delightful.” UK Film Review

“There is a lot to like about Ankle Biters. It’s a great-looking film, with some horrifyingly realistic make-up effects that brutally sell the mayhem. But it’s the main cast that makes this movie […] However, the finale’s needlessly mean and unpleasant tone does a real disservice to the rest of a quite good film.” Without Your Head

“Granted throughout the film, there are a total of three deaths, but it’s the slow tension that works […] And just wait until the third act and epilogue because they bring both shocking moments that have to be seen. Ankle Biters is a slow-moving but worth the wait “bad seed” film with four times the terror in the Reid Sisters, who do a great job alongside the adult cast.” World Film Geek

Release:
Ankle Biters was released online in Poland on September 25, 2021.

In the USA, Ankle Biters was released On-Demand and on DVD by Dark Star Pictures on November 16th 2021.

Technical details:
91 minutes

Notes:
Filmed in 2019.

Not to be confused with Ankle Biters (2002), written, directed by and starring Adam Minarovich.

Trailer:

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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