Reviews & Counting
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The Children(2009)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Tom Shankland

Eva Birthistle/Elaine
Hannah Tointon/Casey
Rachel Shelley/Chloe
Raffiella Brooks/Leah
7 10
Two couples with brats in tow hook up at some cabin in the woods to celebrate Christmas. They get one hell of a present when some vague virus infects the kids and turns them into murderous tots. Nothing you wouldn’t see at any daycare on a good day.

Bye-bye Mummy.- Miranda

THE CHILDREN, THE CHILDREN, THE CHILDREN, everybody and their uncles anally violated pooch has been telling me that the film is all that and a bag of severed limbs. Yesterday I finally found an hour and half to spare and inserted the DVD into my player, knowing damn well that the overhype I got about this flick may play against it — but low and behold, this Brit bitch delivered the spanks and then some!

Co-written and directed by Tom Shankland (who was behind the uneven WAZ), and based on a story by Paul Andrew Williams (who wrote and directed The Cottage), THE CHILDREN hit where it hurts. The film brilliantly set its stage, introducing ordinary and flawed people, in an ordinary situation and then slowly but surely pulled the rug from under me to back-hand me like the cunt that I am. I truly admired the film’s slow burn approach to its narrative. It took about an hour for this puppy to crank into full gear and that was all good with me. The first hour of build-up was imbued with so much dread and oppression that by the time the hammer swung down I was owned hardcore. For those of you looking for a genre flick that knows how to do suspense right, look no further cause you just found it. 

The potent cinematography on hand surely helped in augmenting the sense of uneaseof the picture. Loved them many shots of the desolate, snow laced surroundings (shades of The Shining) and although I think they meant more than what I got out of it, I esteemed the many close ups of “shinny” things in the picture. Close up on shiny snow, a spoon, melting ice, a toy gun…was it an aesthetic choice or did it mean something more? Not sure. Which brings me to another aspect I dug about this one: its ambiguity. It hinted at a lot of things and didn’t bother giving me explanations. In some cases it can be frustrating; in this case it was a engrossing. Did the messed up radio signal mean that the end of the world was going down? Did the shiny objects trigger the kids to kill? Don’t know, but the aura of mystery around this one, stimulated my noggin which is something that happens rarely, specially on a blind date or on a date period yet alone on the screen.

Another plus was how the film slyly played with the whole “Can parents recognize their children becoming dangerous and be able to do what they have to do” question. Remember in Pet Semetary when Gauge interacted with his dad after having killed his mom and the dude was uber conflicted? Well think of that but times 20. The Children was all about that jive, parents pitted with the unthinkable: their little angels being angels no more. What do you with that? How do you process that emotionally and do the right thing? That question and its answer as displayed in the film made for a gripping theme, one that never got old and that made sure to kick my ass when applied. Add to all that greasing; credible acting by all, children that felt real hence jacking the impact of the story, brilliant sound design that amplified the suspense of the film and the constant sense of uneasiness ( I loved how they mixed a high pitched scream in there), striking shot compositions, a clever used of random quick cut editing, and an ending that hit home and you get an obscure gem that’s worth discovering.

On the downside, I would have liked to have known more about the adults in terms of WHO they were as people — may have made this already visceral ride even more nail biting. A couple of plot holes/the film not being clear as to its chain of events arose to peeve me a tad as well. Not sure if it was a lack of attention as to details on the filmmakers part or me being a moron. If I ever figure it out, I’ll take a one page in Variety and let ya know. And was I alone in thinking that some of the kills were executed in an awkward fashion? Would take me out of the film now and again. Finally, I was on and off as to the parent’s reaction to the mean happenings. Sometimes I felt they reacted right, other times felt they reacted in dumb ways to serve the plot. But that’s just me. On the whole though, THE CHILDREN was a grimly shot, suspenseful and often disturbing essay in kids at their worse. It’s creepy, scary and unsettling. What else do ya want out of a horror film? You going to have kids after this one? I WON’T! F*ck that noise!
You know what, the kills here so took me aback, I didn’t see them coming. So I’ll give ya the same luxury and not spoil them for ya. I will say this; the film is very violent and yes, you will see red.
T & A
We get some chick in undies fun and that’s it. I got a semi out of it, that’s as far as that went…
THE CHILDREN acted like a celluloid sucker punch. I had an idea of what the film was going to be about but didn’t see the manner in which it would go about it coming— hence I was blindsided and sent to the mat. Beautifully shot, paced for maximum whoopass, sporting a tantalizing ambiguous aura and though provoking on some levels — this bad boy f*cked me up and gave me a buck and half of quality horror-tainment. Further character development would have been nice, some of the gore felt off to me and sometimes the film served the plot too much, sacrificing common sense in the priceless but on a whole THE CHILDREN was a nice surprise. A tight and genuinely frightening horror film. As horror fan, I couldn’t ask for more.
Paul Andrew Williams' next project as a writer and director is Cherry Tree Lane (2010)

Tom Shankland 's next film isMarple: The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.