Sunday, October 16, 2016

Film Review: The Children (2008)

The Children (Review)
United Kingdom/2008
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review

"I think it's one of the best killer children movies around..."

A family vacation at a secluded house becomes a fight for survival when the children turn against the adults...

The Children is a very simple horror film. Two families get together at a secluded house to celebrate the holidays – although most of the film seems centered around Casey (Hannah Tointon), a rebellious annoying teenager, and her mother Elaine (Eva Birthistle). Anyway, the children – four kids in total – become mysteriously ill. That illness quickly becomes aggression towards adults. Before they know it, Casey, her parents, and her uncle and aunt are meticulously targeted by the kids – picked off one-by-one. Like I said, it's a simple film, but it's all very effective. The ending is abrupt, but I thought it left an ominous sensation.

The Children isn't perfect. I think the characters might be the biggest problem for most viewers. Starting with Casey: yes, she is annoying. I don't understand why teenage girls are always so obnoxious in movies – what's up with that? The adults don't fare much better, but they have an 'excuse.' You know, they are helpless due to their stupid actions, but at least we know they act so foolishly because they love their children. Right? I mean, sure, the evidence mounts up pretty early, but the reactions seem plausible. Otherwise, The Children is pretty damn good. There's not much else to say. It's suspenseful, it's brutal, and it's effective. It takes steps that a lot films wouldn't dare take. I consider this an underrated/overlooked gem.

The acting was good, too. Hannah Tointon and Eva Birthistle perform very well. The child cast is also great. The children appear malevolent thanks to the makeup and their eerie performances. The film was shot very well, too. I don't remember the music very much, so it either blended well with the rest of the film or it just didn't have much. (I remember it used some moments of silence to create suspense, though.) The film was written by Tom Shankland and Paul Andrew Williams; Shankland also directs. This is a film where the simplicity is beneficial. Sure, the plot doesn't bother to explain much, but the mystery is good. Even if the writing has some shortcomings, the direction excels in creating suspense. Shankland also shares an uncompromising vision.

Overall, The Children is a great horror film. It has its fair share of flaws, but it is ultimately a very effective horror movie. It's one of those films that leaves an impression thanks to its simple plot and brutal visuals. You won't see many films taking risks like this. Personally, I think it's one of the best killer children movies around – it's better than Children of the Corn, at least.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, including violence towards children.

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