The kids are certainly not alright…
It’s a typical British Christmas scene. An extended family descends upon one another to spend the festive season in a whirlwind of food, drink and celebration. But in Shankland’s (WAZ) film, something goes badly, bloodily wrong. An unexplained event silently changes the children, turning them into cold-blooded, calculating killers who systematically dispatch the adults in a variety of gruesome ways.
There’s something about using children in horror movies that quadruples the fear factor, and Shankland has embraced that collision of wide-eyed young innocence and psychopathic murderers with gusto. And the fact that these kids are not just terrorising strangers but are turning on their own parents with no hint of remorse adds a chilling edge to proceedings; how can a parent possibly turn on their own offspring, even if the littler darling is advancing with a kitchen knife? That the source of the children’s murderous impulses is never explained is also a clever, unsettling twist.
There are problems, though. The film takes too long to get going, the natural tensions that exist within the family unit are never properly exploited and there’s an unresolved, sub-plot involving the potentially inappropriate relationship between a teen girl and her uncle that seems to play no part in the rest of the story. Some of the characters also make irritatingly bad decisions – but, then again, who could really believe that your angelic children were capable of ripping you to shreds until they were up to their elbows in you small intestines?
Made on a small budget and with a largely familiar cast, The Children won’t have you sleeping with the lights on but it’s a clever, neatly made British thriller that may well have you reaching for the Durex. 3 stars
There’s an impressive list of bonus material, including a making of, a look at the locations, featurettes on set design and special effects, plus deleted scenes. 4 stars
Stars Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield
Director Tom Shankland
Distributor Contender Home Entertainment
Format DVD and Blu-ray
Released March 30th