Friday, November 27, 2009

The Children (2008)

If "South Park" got anything right, it's the fact that kids can be vicious little bastards. Sure, most tend to look at childhood as a blissful, innocent time. Bullshit. Kids can be mean, plotting, evil people not that different from a million dollar tycoon when it comes to ruthlessness. Don't give me "Oh, they don't know any better!" I was a kid once too. I still remember how cruel kids can be. Yet, none of them were as cruel as the ones in this movie.

The film starts with a family of five headed to a large house to spend some quality time with relatives on a wintry New Years Vacation. Well, one of the kids, named Paulie (William Howes) isn't feeling too good, and soon starts to become sick. One of the parents thinks it's nothing though, and decides not to do anything about it. That turns out to be, as Will Arnett's Gob from "Arrested Development" would say, a huge mistake. That sickness Paulie has starts to spread, and soon, not only are the kids not feeling good, but they are turning violent. And not tantrum violent either. I mean killing parents violent.

Not to be confused with the 1980 movie of the same name, "The Children" is one of the best sleeper movies to hit DVD this year. A hit in the festival circuit, Lionsgate (using the Ghost House Underground Label) gave it a Straight to DVD release, but it beats most of what passes as horror in theaters these days.

The movie itself is practically a case study in tension and unease. From the get go, the viewer realizes that something terrible is going to happen, and they wait for it to happen. Yet it takes it's time, making the viewer wait for things to turn bad. And when things go bad, the viewer pays attention. The kids here are evil little shits, stabbing, slicing, and torturing any adult that comes their way, as well as indulging in a moment of eyeball trauma that would make Lucio Fulci proud. In fact, while it may not be a gorefest, the movies combination of dread and endurance testing acts of violence reminded me of Fulci at his most accomplished and atmospheric. It also helps that the acting is considerably strong, especially Hannah Tointon as Casey and Eva Birthistle as Elaine.

If there are any problems I had with the movie, it would have to be that the parents are fucking stupid at times. I know, in horror you need to suspend disbelief sometimes when it comes to horror. That out of the way, if your kid says he feels sick, worry about it.

Other than that, "The Children" is an eerie little chiller that creeps up from behind you and stays with you after it's over. It may be illogical at times, but the tense atmosphere, gore and refusal to cater to it's audience as if it were a fanboy movie make it a must see. Maybe you'll think twice about that cute kid next time.

Rating: 8.5/10

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