“The Mean One” – So Bad It’s…Okay [Review]

As the world prepares to watched a childhood classic like Winnie the Pooh go full slasher next year, another beloved intellectual property is being given the horror treatment just in time for Christmas!  While The Mean One does star David Howard Thornton of Terrifier fame, this is a very different movie.  Severely limited by its budget, The Mean One strives where it can, but falters in areas that it should have known better…

Dr. Seuss Parody
Because the character of The Grinch isn’t public domain, The Mean One has to be “parody” for legal purposes.  As a result, the town is called “Newville” and the main character is just Cindy.  She witnesses the titular “Mean One” murder her mother as a child, and now he’s back to wreak havoc on the holiday that he hates so much.

As far as satire goes, it’s not a bad parody.  There’s rhyming narration, a character named “Dr. Zeus”, and a few other fun gags and references to the source material that they can’t officially reference.  The movie even delves into the very real dangers involved with under/oversized hearts.  For the most part, it knows exactly what kind of movie that it’s trying to be and just goes for it.

Mean One 1
The Mean One himself has this very animalistic quality that makes him all the more fun.

It’s not quite the unintentional hilarious that was The Room, nor is it the intentional un-hilarious as was Sharknado.  The Mean One sort of exists somewhere in the middle.  You get the sense that some of the actors are very much aware that this is all schlock and they’re just having fun with it.  While others feel like they’re trying to give a decent, serious performance but this is not the movie or script for that.

Budget Restrictions
With the recent release of Terrifier 2, The Mean One has been enjoying a lot of publicity thanks to that movie’s massive success.  And whether intentionally or not, many horror fans were expecting this movie to be very close to Terrifier, albeit with a Christmas spin.  And while David Howard Thornton gives it his all as “The Mean One”, the two films are on completely different levels.

Horror is a genre where independent films can truly thrive, so we should never hold a movie’s budget against it in terms of overall quality.  That being said, The Mean One is severely held back and limited by that tiny budget.  The CGI blood looks absolutely terrible, all the scenes shot at night look grainy due to lack of proper lighting, and there’s even very odd and jarring editing choices.

Mean One 2
Although the mayor character is a lot of fun and it’s a shame she isn’t used more.

The whole movie feels very “college amateur”.  The key to thriving with a microbudget is to find ways around limitations.  But this movie doesn’t really ever try to do that.  It seems like it wants to look and feel like a bigger budget film, but it doesn’t have the creativity to shore up the holes everywhere.  For example, if you couldn’t afford to use practical blood and gore on set, a way around that might be to come up with creative kills that don’t involve much blood.

Despite everything, David Howard Thornton is probably the best part of the movie.  He’s not in it nearly as much as you’d want, but he exhibits his manic physicality and penchant for physical humor.  He plays his homicidal character with the perfect balance of sinister evil and campy fun.

Mean one 4
2022 has really been his year!

If you go into The Mean One expecting it to be on par with Terrifier 2, you will likely be very disappointed.  But if you go in with the expectations of it being a “so bad it’s fun” holiday horror film like Jack Frost, you can probably have some fun with it!

What other childhood classic would you like to see turned into a slasher film?  Let us know in the comments!

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