Monday, May 1, 2017

Film Review: Bloody Birthday (1981)

Bloody Birthday (Review)
United States/1981
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a unique, entertaining, and effective slasher."

Born during a total eclipse of the sun, three kids wreak havoc on their small neighborhood...

Bloody Birthday is an interesting film. It's simple, it's cheesy, and it's fun. The film begins with the birth of three children: Debbie, Curtis, and Steven. These kids secretly murder the people they dislike. Joyce Russell and her younger brother, Timmy, seem to be the only people who suspect something is afoot. Unfortunately, the killer children are sly and deceitful. Well... That's basically the entire plot. Debbie, Curtis, and Steven kill while Joyce and Timmy either mind their own business or try to catch them. There is an explanation for the kids' wicked ways, but it's a bit on the cheesy side. It leads to a good ending, though.

Despite its simplicity, Blood Birthday was a very good movie—especially for fans of the genre. The plot is simple but effective. The deaths aren't shockingly violent, but it is unnerving to watch children murder at will. The concept—children murdering—is effective on its own, really. There are some good chase/cat-and-mouse scenes in here, too. And, these scenes have some decent suspense. Of course, the plot can be too simple at times. This leaves a few dull moments. Also, there seem to be some blatant plot holes in the film. For example, Joyce and Timmy's parents are supposed to be on vacation, but two birthdays passed by in the film meaning an entire year lapsed. What? Is it a year-long vacation? Also, aside from a few funeral scenes, it never really builds on the consequences of the kids' actions. Everything seems to go back to normal directly after a death. These issues don't spoil the film, but they stood out.

The acting was fine, though. The film can be cheesy at times, but I was surprised by the acting. Billy Jayne, who played Curtis, had an impressive 'please-punch-me' face. The film was shot well and the music was decent. It won't bring home any awards for cinematography or music, but it's adequate. The film was written by Ed Hunt and Barry Pearson; Hunt also served as director. This isn't a very serious horror film, so it shouldn't be treated as one. Sure, the writers could have delved deeper into the issue of child murders, but that wasn't the focus. For what it is, this is an effective slasher. The writing could have been fine-tuned to fill some of its holes, but it's otherwise a fine story.

Overall, Bloody Birthday is a very good movie. It has its fair share of issues, but it really surprised me. This is a unique, entertaining, and effective slasher. You really won't see films like this being made today, so that's something special.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, sex and nudity.

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