Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The first thing drew me to Tom Shankland’s film ‘The Children’ was the tagline which reads something along the lines of ‘You brought them into the world, now they’ll take you out’. As far as taglines go that one is pretty damn good, especially considering how many times my mother informed that she brought me in the world and that she can take me out of it too. Oh mommy. Then I settled down for a cozy evening to watch ‘The Children’ and I do wish I had other more descriptive words to describe what I saw in this films scant 80-minute running time because all I’m left to say rather crudely is that this was mighty f**ked up. But in a good way.

It is Christmas somewhere in England where the progressive and obviously financially sound couple Chloe (Rachel Shelley) her husband Robbie (Jeremy Sheffield) along with their children Leah (Rafiella Brooks) and Nicky (Jake Hathaway) are hosting Christmas festivities for Chloe’s sister Elaine (Eva Birthistle) and her not quite as

successful husband Jonah (Stephen Campbell Moore) along with their children Paulie (William Howes), Miranda (Eva Sayer) and Elaine’s bitchy teenaged daughter Casey (Hannah Tointon). Little Paulie has been in a snit for most of the trip culminating in him throwing up some yellow vomit which his mother passes off as ‘car sickness’. If they knew then what we know now, they would’ve slit the terminally cute four year olds throat right then and there. Regardless, Christmas comes and everybody is having a good time except for little Paulie who is an increasingly rotten mood and the teenager who is just about as miserable as little Paulie with the exception of the crush she seems to be developing for her Auntie’s hunky husband.

The weirdness comes quite quickly. First little Leah observes that something is wrong with Paulie and doesn’t want to be near him, possibly because of that demonic toy xylophone he insists on playing. Don’t worry about that too much little Leah because the crazy is going to get you too. It seems the Crazy, whatever this crazy might be, is affecting the kids one by one in order of age, with each of them having some rather brutal premonitions about the murderizations they are about to commit. The only person who seems to recognize that there is something wrong the kids is the bitchy, inappropriately dressed, pot smoking, whiskey guzzling, phone texting teenager, and she’s trying to get the heck out of there anyway to do her thing at some party. Then it all hits the fan. The Crazy has done turned the children into a bunch mini Jason Vorhees’, minus the immortality, but with a little more smarts, a cute factor to get up next to you and the ability to crawl through small spaces. It looks like their pet Jinxie the cat got off easy. He’s dead too, but he got off easy.

There are number of reasons why ‘The Children’ works as well as it does, with the main reason being the Shankland has crafted a very efficient little horror movie over here. Not a lot of time is wasted on b.s. as we meet our main characters and we get to know enough about our characters to form a solid enough opinion of them. Elaine is sweet but naïve, her sister Chloe is a controlling shrew cloaked under the guise of concern, her husband Robbie is a borderline perv cloaked under the guise of cool and Elaine’s husband Jonah is that multi-level marketing relative that we all know and that we all despise. The kids we don’t get to know all that well, except for the bitchy inappropriately dressed teen who’s teasing the pervy uncle, but what is there that we need to know other than they are all incredibly pale and look very creepy. Especially young actress Eva Sayer.

The movie is paced very well with the tension factor steadily rising, and the way the kids went from cute to demonic was also handled quite well as Shankland did a very good job in directing these very young children which couldn’t have been all that easy. Now what makes this movie a bit f**ked up is that you will be watching cute kids kill and subsequently you will be watching cute kids die. Quite horribly in some cases. Sure they deserved it for the most part but damn man, they were kids! Yes, my five year old might be trying to stick an eight inch needle in my eye as it is quickest route to puncture my brain but I think I might be able to restrain it or something before I’m forced to impale the little bugger. Our bitchy teen in particular had no problem and even less remorse in attempting to silence her little siblings or her cousins.

‘The Children’ is not the most complex movie around as it is a fairly straight forward film about kids gone demonic with the only possible underlying message being that liberal parents need to be stopped at all costs. But simplicity aside the movie is wicked, a little subversive and a completely effective horror movie made even more impressive by the fact that all of the horror took place in broad daylight. I once heard a comedian say that worst thing about unprotected isn’t HIV but K.I.D which could also be another thing this movie is trying to tell us.

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