The first scene of “Cute Little Buggers” makes the film’s aim clear. There are just-realistic-enough aliens and a cheesy romance in the woods. There’s also an overly gory attack by aliens—one that accurately foreshadows the rest of the campy horror-comedy. Ultimately, the film is a cringeworthy, ham-fisted attempt to revive the over-the-top charm of 20th century B-movies. It’s one that ultimately fails in large part due to the sheer unlikeability of its characters.
“Cute Little Buggers” has a dual plot. The first storyline revolves around a pair of inept and ill-meaning aliens, intent on abducting as many human women as possible from a quaint town in the British countryside in order to forcibly reproduce and keep their alien species alive. They carry out this devious plan by possessing the “Cute Little Buggers” for which the movie is named: a squadron of evil, tentacle-wielding bunnies. The second plot line depicts the return of a “prodigal son” to the very same quaint British town, and the romantic and familial revelations that come with his arrival. The two storylines are deeply uneven in importance, and so the movie strangely rotates with plot twists as the aliens’ plan dwarfs the human relationships, even as the two stories intersect.
One common feature of both plotlines is its shameless and excessive reliance on gender stereotypes for the purposes of comedy and character development. In fact, perhaps the most frequently recurring comedic device used is the ill-timed abduction of topless women, all of whom remain scantily clad and desperate for their designated male savior. Meanwhile, the men are bumbling stereotypes, fixated on both figurative and literal pissing contests while fighting over their claims on various women. The characters are predictable, unoriginal, and overwhelmingly one-dimensional.
Additionally, the actors’ interpretation of their characters do little to redeem the film. The acting is stiff—though the actors’ voices sometimes convey a few hints of emotional range, their faces more often reflect either solemn rage or unbridled hysteria, depending entirely on the character’s gender. Ironically, the aliens are the most relatable characters in the movie. Their banter is occasionally natural and sometimes even genuinely amusing in its ridiculousness. Despite their strange, unearthly, deeply unconvincing alien masks, they are certainly more sympathetic than the uninteresting and frankly irritating humans. At best, the humans' comedy is shaky. At worst, it is horrifyingly tasteless, as evidenced when a monotone member of the all-white cast cracks a blunt joke about hunting indigenous people.
Reflecting the plot’s strange two-part structure, the cinematography of “Cute Little Buggers” lurches between two distinct settings. The first is reminiscent of a jump-scare horror movie, replete with poor CGI and shaky, red-tinted camera shots. The second is as simple, old-world and down-to-earth as the town itself. The camerawork is simple, relying on broad still shots to highlight the rural features of the town, from the bales of hay to the tractors to the folk concert. Unfortunately, the transition quality between these two styles is inconsistent. Sometimes, the juxtaposition provides just the right balance of the two sensibilities to keep the viewer alert—at other times, the viewer risks whiplash from the quick and confusing transition.
“Cute Little Buggers” has many of the features of a traditional B movie. The acting, dialogue, and plot are all cheesy to the extreme. The purpose is entertainment, but the direction is not artistic to fulfill that goal. The film is certainly low-budget. However, it simply lacks the genuine humor and fun that earned B movies of the past their audience, largely because the characters are unlikeable, dull, and often annoying. Viewers looking for a goofy, not-too-deep movie to occupy a slow evening ought to look elsewhere, simply because “Cute Little Buggers” is not endearing enough to justify its less admirable qualities.
—Staff writer Natalie J. Gale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.