Eleven Little Roosters is a live action interactive murder mystery comedy by Rooster Teeth. An international Assassins league is being sabotaged, can the culprit be found before everyone is killed?
Crank it up to Eleven!
I was very surprised to hear about Eleven Little Roosters. Its predecessor, 2014’s Ten Little Roosters, was a compact self contained story with a fair amount of laughs and a satisfying mystery. Where could the story go next? Sure there are more than enough people visibly employed at Rooster Teeth to have a second dinner party murder fest, but retreading old work isn’t their style.
So, how do you follow up Ten Little Roosters? First, add one more victim and add it to the title. Season, Volume, and other subtitles have been done ad-nauseum. But iterating on the title, similar to the Ocean’s 11 movie series is less common and feels different enough to be memorable. Second, set the story among a league of international assassins. Any why not? The former was a ridiculous, over the top take on the “Who Done It” genre set in Rooster Teeth’s own offices. So why stay small when you double down and crank up the comedic silliness to Eleven.
Eleven Little Roosters differentiates itself from its predecessor in more ways than just its title and setting. It includes a meticulously detailed interactive element for the keen eyed sleuth. There are clues, hints, and codes peppered within every episode, promotional short, even other Rooster Teeth productions. These clues come in many forms as simple as a QR code or a complex puzzle requiring the viewer to piece together a URL from letters scattered through the episode. These Easter eggs link to “The Haywood Files,” a set of cryptic messages that enhance the mystery and invite the audience to solve it along with the series protagonist.
The amount of planning that went into this feature is staggering. Each clue and puzzle is developed and staged in every shot to be seen but not obviously so. Not all the clues are visual, many are audio cues such as Morse Code and stereo sound placement. The most complex puzzles combine audio and visual clues and require going to other RT productions to complete. The interactive portion of Eleven Little Roosters is a remarkable accomplishment that rewards those who wish to participate.
Then there were Ten.
If you don’t have the patience to follow the interactive portion of the series, that’s fine. Eleven Little Roosters is to true Rooster Teeth tradition with comedy bordering on the satirical. The assassins and spies are stereotypical takes on their countries of origin complete with exaggerated accents and costumes. The member agencies are varied in size from solo operators to the four man German pop group, Sex von Shauffel Boyz(of Funhaus). The Rooster Corps itself pushes the Rooster euphemism to its limit, taking advantage of every opportunity to make a well timed dick joke.
Eleven Little Roosters begins with a murder, lots of murder, accented by a bloody Canadian maple leaf and profuse apologies. Agent Moose[Canadian Assassin’s League](Barbara Dunkelman) is on assignment in Croatia, carving though soldiers on her way to her target. But things turn sour when her target ends up being a fellow member of the Rooster Corps, Norway’s Jack the Red(Jack Pattillo). It is the beginning of a plot to take control of the Rooster Corps and its ultimate doomsday weapon. Moose is removed from her position, replaced by Agent Knuckle[Yes, very subtle comedy](Elyse Willems), and sent to investigate who is turning the Corps against each other.
But Wait, There’s More!
Eleven Little Roosters also includes a four episode 360 video prologue series featuring the Sex von Shauffel Boys. The prologue runs parallel to the main series and focuses on the audience and fans of the assassin pop band before and during their concerts(and killings). It is a curious experiment in VR entertainment that has a fun payoff at the end. Unfortunately the videos are optimized for mobile and VR devices and its performance suffers when viewing in browser.
Does it work?
So does this interactive mystery live up to the bar it sets for itself? In many ways it does. The interactive portion is a masterstroke that my mind is still wrapping itself around. The RT community in particular dove in head first and tore apart each episode looking for the clues and hints hidden in each one. The characters are fun and their actors own their roles 100%, especially Colonel Cockface, but most are one dimensional throwaways meant to die early on with little flair and fanfare. The most developed, and fun, characters are the ones that live the longest.
The story doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the show is better for it. In the end Eleven Little Roosters is a fun sideshow of craziness that lives up to an exceeds the bar set by its predecessor. With a total run time of about 82 minutes it is worth at least one watch whether you participate in the interactive portion or not.
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