A relaxing Christmas vacation turns into a terrifying fight for survival as the children begin to turn on their parents
And just when you thought cute little kids couldn’t be scary! Director Tom Shankland has managed to drum up a pretty effective fright fest that proves that not all little things are adorable all of the time. The film goes simply by the name of “The Children“, of which I have fond memories of another scary children film that came out in 1980 since renamed “The Children of Ravensback”. “The Children” while predominately UK originated has all the makings of a modern classic horror piece. A few accents are a bit thick but in the scheme of things that doesn’t take much away. Though I did have a bit of a time trying to mentally archive all of the names.
We enter into a family get together in progress for a nice, playful winter vacation in a countryside cottage. Families play, laugh, throw snowballs and indulge in booze and reminiscing later at night. All seems to be in order for a great Christmas throw down with lots of family fair and feasting. Casey (Hannah Tointon) is the older teen who is transitioning from the dreaded “not a girl, not yet a woman” age as the rest of the children play silly kids games and make believe nonsense. On hand we have Miranda, Leah, Paulie and few others I didn’t catch names of content in there children games. The adults at first stand to be pretty clueless to the high jinx going on but start to see the reality set in as moments set in motion.
What starts off as a joyful vacation soon turns ugly. Shankland keeps the suspense flowing by showing us stillness, moments of silence, zoning in on blank expressions and a slow brood of change that builds on the progression of tension. It goes without saying that the cold surroundings attribute to the cold expressions the children take on almost mirroring the darken nature and crushing any association with holiday cheer. Original score credits go to Stephen Milton who provides just the mood atmosphere to compliment the movie.
Pieced with a blanket of cutaways and dark solemn score seasoning you get a quick sense of “something is wrong” uneasiness far before anything of consequence happens in the same tone that you’d expect from Damien in “Omen”. This sense that you feel is a result of great planning and audience control to ease the tension on in layers. In fact in the beginning when Leah comes out to complain about the way the kids are playing, you almost expect her to piss on the floor and do her best Reagan (Exorcist) impersonation. The camera distance used to frame the children influence this mental sense that builds.
Slow unleashing of increased deviancy and venomous nature begins to take form on the weekend. Accidental mishaps becomes more frequent and violent in sort of a tidal wave of misery. Bones crack, glass breaks, and a sled accident become fatal as a wave of behavior sets over the children.
Cause? Suggestions point to a viral outbreak but still unclear to as why it’s influenced the children to there present state. Enough to instigate situations into happening to a certain amount of “what the hell is wrong with the children?” syndrome overtaking the youngens in ever increasing envelopes of plain evil.
Tointon provides the perfect middle ground as a connection point between the unbelieving adults and the murderous kids. And while adults seem to conflict there feelings on what’s going Casey drives a wake up call to those who will listen. Though as expected, the reality doesn’t take and a facade of illusion is brought forward to fatal results.
The details don’t need to be spelled out to tell ya that the film succeeds not only with a evil children scenario but the way it’s presented, shot, cut and orchestrated. Whether you buy into the concept or not, this is an extremely well done horror film that to me echo’s a sense of time when horror films were still scary.