Director Narcisco Ibanez Serrador (The House that Screamed) pulled off a point-blank, incredibly well done, superbly acted and fantastically disturbing item here. I’m finding it hard to categorize this film because it hits on several levels that’ve perhaps been done similarly in films before but “Who Can Kill a Child?” in no way rips them off. Not even close. What I mean is, yes a person could lend comparisons to “Night of the Living Dead” but that would be an unfair stretch. “Village of The Damned” comes to mind, but the juxtapose between the two is irrelevant when it comes to story vs. story. Perhaps the closest film that comparably comes to mind would be “The People Who Own the Dark” (I’ll be reviewing this jewel next, maybe). But once again, this is a different tale, spun in full-throttle and it coasts amongst the elite within this seedy sub-genre. This movie sublimely attacks from the get-go, as a narrated montage of stock B&W war crimes/atrocities footage is interlaced with the credits. The eerie, clever soundtrack consists of angelic-like, singing children and resonates in key spots creating a disturbing feeling in the gut. As the grim visage of suffering, starving and/or dying people, especially children, tediously rolls by, the feeling of “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” crept into the brain and crashed down on me. There is a very pointed, political feel to the entire intro, and by the time it ends and the actual story begins and the main characters are introduced, there’s no way to gage where the heck the movie is going to go. The tale that unfolds from this point on unravels methodically, cerebrally and graphically.
Our figures of torment, Tom (Lewis Flanden) and his delicate, pregnant wife Evelyn (Prunella Ransome) who looks and reminds me of Mia Farrow’s (“Rosemary’s Baby” version of course) ultra-freckled, French sister, set off on vacation to the remote Spanish island of Almanzora. Apparently they’re from France; Tom knows a bit of Spanish while Evelyn still struggles. She easily looks 6-months pregnant and her character oozes a cute-ish naivety that creates a very likeable quality. Evelyn is very much a tourist in this island paradise with its wild carnival atmosphere and exploding fireworks, and her readiness to soak up the native culture and brilliant sunshine is commended. But the fact that she has spunk in such a delicate state of being only adds to the feeling of impending vulnerability at hand.
After spending the night on the ultra-populated Spanish mainland, the couple journey by boat to their accursed destination alone. As they drift closer to the island and eventually disembark onto a makeshift pier, the only signs of life look to be a small cluster of rag-tag children. Tom tries to communicate with one dark-haired boy who’s fishing, to no avail. The kid just stares into his face as Tom questions his catch. There’s even a brief second of minor hostility as Tom tries to take a peek inside the kid’s bait bucket, only for the little sucker to quickly smack the adults hand away and glare angrily.
Tom laughs it off and the couple grabs their bags and start walking down suffocating narrow streets, apparently in the direction of a hotel. It’s revealed through conversation that Tom had been to this place years ago and has a bit of memory of the island’s traditions and its layout, but even he looks concerned at the absence of adults. It’s obvious he’s trying his best not to alarm Evelyn, but as they continue on, deeper into the burning-hot, tight-knit community there’s no hiding the fact that something’s evidently wrong here. To call this picturesque little isle “remote” and “less populated” proves to be a gross understatement. It looks like the little town has been non-destructively abandoned, with the exception of some kids.
They come upon an establishment that looks open and duck in sweating and tired, out of the beating sun’s rays. They quickly discover there’s no proprietor (or anyone else in the place for that matter) to serve them. After helping themselves to something cold to drink, the film takes an even more ominous turn.
When Tom goes to check things out, a girl no older than 12-years old appears outside in the street, and Evelyn beckons her in. The smiling girl approaches the expectant mother but does not speak a word. In what looks and seems like a harmless gesture, the girl zeroes-in on Evelyn’s full belly and touches it, then puts her ear up to it, as if listening. There’s no air of threat, just a moment of a child-like curiosity. A still-smiling Evelyn grins even wider and allows her to listen. The still-silent girl rests her head on Evelyn’s stomach for just a few moments, then stands up, smiles again, and walks out into the streets and disappears amongst its twists and turns as Tom returns. A tender moment? No harm done? Well…
A little later, after poking around the place further and finding no one nor a semblance of an explanation to what might’ve happened, much to her relief, Evelyn spies a hunched over old man down the block stumbling with a walking stick into an alley and then out of sight. Tom looks relieved when he catches sight of the old cat too, and he starts to slowly walk in his direction. This is the 1st (and only) adult they’ve seen, so there’s a brief moment of hope here. But what they see thereafter spits on any spark of hope or sanity in a hurry.
They watch a different smiling girl follow the old man into the alley. Tom’s walk becomes a bewildered jog when the couple sees the little girl begin to yank the old man’s cane out from his elderly grip and proceed to swing it furiously at his head, over and over again. The old man’s cries verify Tom’s fears, and he begins running towards the tragic scenario. Evelyn wisely stays put. Tom grabs the stick from the girl and asks, screaming every word, “Why did you do this? Why? Why?” The girl laughs hysterically in return and runs away. Tom turns with disbelief written on his face and checks on the old man. He’s verrry dead. Tom stashes the body, and pauses for a moment, exhausted. And then he hears something. Voices? Laughter? His ears bring him to a closed doorway, and he cautiously opens it a crack.
He sees a group of children in the midst of playing what looks like an old fashioned game of piñata, but as the door slowly opens further and he focuses in on the whole picture, he stops dead in his tracks. Like an absurd exhibit of medieval torture, a different older man is hung upside down by his feet. A filthy gaggle of kids are taking blindfolded turns wielding long scythes, stabbing at the old guy’s battered corpse, while in the driest of ironies, his body is being used as a bloody human piñata. His eyes are shanked and dripping from their sockets and his torso is gauged and mutilated. Tom, revolted at the sight, walks away, turns his head, crumbles in-half and pukes.
Not surprisingly, from this point on, Tom and Evelyn are on the run from these homicidal pre-teens and they have to make it off the island. When guns are introduced into the thickening plot, desperation becomes an absolute. It’s life or death, and terrorized Tom and expectant Evelyn are fighting to win this oddball battle by any means necessary, even if it means “Killing a …!?” Or is the pregnant couple doomed by rite of enchantment, no matter where they run?
Telling you fellow horror fanatics too much about what happens from here would be a cinematic sin, so I’m not gonna ruin a second. There’s an obvious statement being made in this film, a lashing-out against war and the evil “adults” guilty of seeing its ugly truth through. The innocent lives taken when man plays his most deadly game will be casualties no more! Evil begets evil here, and the telepathic rise of deadly children has only just begun its revenge upon society!
THIS FILM IS A MANDATORY “MUST SEE!”
The only minor complaint I have (or had) is that this film is sub-titled (in English and/or Spanish), and sometimes, the lines just fly by in quick flashes, leaving a stoner like myself reaching for the remote, trying manically to find the rewind button. I know, it’s a petty thing to mention and nine-times-out-of-ten, it’s probably my retarded deal.
Aside from my dysfunctions, “Who Can Kill A Child?” is totally worth it, no matter the cost. Those of you who’ve seen this movie can attest to the aforementioned statement. But if you haven’t seen this sick rarity, and you’re itching for something different to expand the already fluid illness that sleeps in the bosom of your miserable heart, then I’d highly recommend this one with every gore-soaked fiber of my being. Add it to your collection ASAP you fools! What are you waiting for… war to break out? Or your next kid to be born? HA! Talk at you next month ya sick fuckers!