[Movie Review] THE MEAN ONE
THE MEAN ONE l Atlas Film Distribution
“You’re a mean one, Mr..” “FINCH! GOT A CALL FOR MIKE FINCH!”

Everyone loves a good parody film. Hell, the Wayans Brothers made a fortune creating a franchise based on making fun of horror movies. Since it’s the most wonderful time of the year (well that’s debatable), what’s better than one of the best subgenres of horror to bring audiences the unauthorized horror parody of their dreams? You know what I’m talking about. What’s red and white and green all over? I’m talking about THE MEAN ONE.

THE MEAN ONE was directed by Steven LaMorte and written by Flip and Finn Kobler. The film was produced by A Sleight of Hand Productions, Amy Rose Productions, and Kali Pictures and produced by Amy Schumacher, LaMorte, and Martine Melloul. Executive Producers are Jordan Rosner, Gato Scatena, and Zach Stampone.

THE MEAN ONE finds us in the quaint little town of Newville resting under a crooked mountain. One Christmas Eve, little Cindy You-Know-Who is waiting for Santa but what she gets is a furry yet festive green monster played by the titular David Howard Thornton, our favorite gorehound clown from the Terrifier films. The monster murders Cindy’s mother and steals Christmas. Twenty years later, Cindy (Krystle Martin) returns to Newville to find it devoid of all things Christmas. In an effort to cheer her up, Cindy’s father (Flip Kobler) decorates the house for Christmas and then immediately regrets it. It would seem Christmas and tragedy follow Cindy around.

Also following her around is a new cop to Newville, Officer Burke (Chase Mullins), and the nosey mayoral candidate Mayor McBean (Amy Schumacher). When more deaths begin to occur in Newville and a useless sheriff does nothing to help, Cindy with the help of Burke and “crazy townie” Doc Zeus (John Bigham) plans to take down the green menace themselves.

Right off the bat, I adore the concept. I love a holiday film that isn’t all joy and candy canes but in this instance, the candy canes are used to impale drunkards in a diner. Also, holiday films like this are BEST when they are low-budget, indie fares. My go-to example is Slay Belles: low budget, mediocre acting for the most part, and a hell of a lot of fun. When a film truly takes a look at itself and laughs, it’s a good move. Unfortunately, there were many post-production mishaps that may have ruined the film for me. Let me explain.

THE MEAN ONE l Atlas Film Distribution

The fact that this was most likely filmed somewhere warm in the summer is pretty apparent, especially with a nonstop snow effect filmed thrown on top. I don’t mind that honestly and it’s a fun little parodied nod to movies like the 1978 Halloween. It reminds me of low-budget innovations used to fake the seasons. For the most part, the acting was pretty standard low budget mediocre with the exception of Doc. He is my favorite holiday character, maybe ever. He hits those parody notes like a boss and I want a movie with just him. However, all of these good parts were heavily shadowed by extremely bad color grading.

When you are creating the atmosphere of a video or film, good and consistent color grading can make or break the atmosphere. Not only is there an inconsistency heavy blue filter over most of the scenes but not all, the white balance is all over the place. There was a hiking scene where I literally saw the blue increase from one point of view to the next. It was so blue that the actors looked cyanotic. I thought maybe that the blue scenes were only those in which Cindy was present, but then that was disproved when the blue showed up randomly in other scenes. Sometimes it was just in Cindy’s scenes, then it was on some outdoor shots but not others. Sometimes it was indoors and then it wasn’t. I was looking for a pattern with this where there wasn’t one.

The issues with the filters and the grading were so blatant that it was distracting from the actual movie. This was a shame because David Howard Thornton is the perfect Mean One. He loves to be evil on film and you can tell. The only real fun I had with THE MEAN ONE was in the scenes where he got to go to town on the News down in Newville. The holiday-themed kills were silly and hilarious. The CGI blood splatters were a bit disappointing but, given how much fun it was to watch Thornton, it was forgivable.

Let’s not forget all of the hilarious parts like a call for Mike Finch at the perfect time or the character of Doctor Zeus. There are really good bits and baubles to THE MEAN ONE but unfortunately, bad post-production work has overshadowed what could have been a silly new low-budget holiday favorite.

While I was disappointed overall for the film as a whole, if someone were to fix the color grading and blue filter and then edit together a short film of THE MEAN ONE just going whobeast all over the residents of Newville, well I would be on that faster than a Newvillian on a snowflake.

Steven LaMorte’s outrageous slasher parody, THE MEAN ONE, hits U.S. cinemas on December 9th.

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