Taking its cue from classic horror films like Who Can Kill a Child? and The Bad Seed comes the UK horror flick The Children, a fresh take on a subgenre frowned upon here the States, where children aren’t the cute little tykes we thought they were…
In the film directed by Tom Shankland, a bunch of kids have flu-like symptoms, which evolve into a more sinister problem.
While the recently released UK film of the same nature, Eden Lake, is widely praised among critics and horror fans, I consider the pic to be a bust on many levels — and where Lake fails, The Children thrives. Written by Tom Shankland and Paul Andrew Williams, The Children doesn’t attempt to over explain the situation at hand, which keeps it not only more believable, but extra creepy. The idea that your loving kids could turn on you and your family without any reason whatsoever is downright terrifying. To even think that a child could be capable of some of the terror they raise in this film is even more insane.
But the true bliss of this wonderfully executed horror flick is an idea that’s teased throughout the entirety of the events of that fateful afternoon; could you hit, let alone kill your own child to preserve your own life? During the climax (watch the scene here) one of the parents is sitting back against the door yielding a fire poker while two kids slowly creep towards her. Behind the door her daughter is screaming, kicking and punching, trying to help save her mother. She’s yelling at her mother through the door to do something, while she exclaims back something along the lines of, “I can’t”. She simply drops guard, because she’d rather die than kill a child. That moment beautifully defines the entire film in a nutshell.
While the question of whether or not you could kill a child is a dark one that’s been asked dozens of times, it’s the suspense that Shankland delivers that makes The Children something quite spectacular and worthy of being called one of the best of it’s nature. He tinkers and toys with the audience by giving us the lowdown on the situation at hand, but keeps the adults in the dark creating a gigantic level of suspense. We know what’s coming, but they haven’t the slightest clue…
But that’s not enough to satisfy the average gore-hound, and Shankland knows it. While The Children is an incredibly well shot and suspenseful film, it’s also insanely violent. It’s quite admirable to see that Shankland took a chance with child violence and doesn’t shy away from it at all. Here in the States it’s nearly impossible to sell a movie, let lone get it past the MPAA if there are children harmed, yet Shankland slams it out of the park and doesn’t give a sh*t. These children take a beating, as do the parents. What’s even more shocking is their age; these kids are like 6, maybe 7 years old.
The Children has it all and is guaranteed to please even the hardest to satisfy horror fan. Simply put down your copy of Eden Lake, stomp on it a few times and move on to something that’s actually scary and carries redeemable qualities (instead of just trying to “shock” you). The Children will be one of this year’s direct-to-DVD gems that you’ll hold a cherish for years to come. Don’t miss out… and don’t have any children (your friends weren’t joking).