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[CFF 2020] ‘Little Willy’ Review: Horror short explores when early fame goes to your head

‘Little Willy’ is a fun horror short.

Finding movie fame at a young age can be a horrible thing. Hollywood history is filled with child actors who were unable to break out of the trap of early stardom. Many times, the best they can hope for is to move on to small movie roles and featured appearances at conventions. Little Willy is a horror short playing at the Chattanooga Film Festival that focuses on one such star. Adam Castle (Andrew Browser) was a child star in Little Willy – a not so subtle homage to Child’s Play. While a guest at a horror convention. Adam begins to question his life.

Browser also directed the movie and does an excellent job of building familiarity. Anyone who has been to any type of convention will recognize the setting. There are cosplayers and a constant sense of awe. As with any con, there almost seems to be too much to take in. The atmosphere is enhanced by Brewer’s performance. Adam obviously does not want to be at the convention. This not due to a feeling of being above it (though there seems to be some of that.) Being part of the con is depressing for him.

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This is seen in conversations held with Zack Galligan (of Gremlins fame) and horror icon Adrienne Barbeau (both played by themselves.) Both can tell something is wrong with their fellow actor. Adam is uninterested in what they have to say. He has no problems taking advantage of the perks of his celebrity, however. He is a textbook case of someone who lives on past glory and cannot stand it.

Little Willy soon becomes a standard horror movie. At the heart of the story, is whether what Adam is experiencing is real. What the short does best is it never takes itself too seriously. By the end of the film, everything has become the slasher Adam’s life has become consumed by. It is a rare case where some questions can be left unanswered and still be satisfying.

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