Splatter Time Fun Fest 2014: The Children (2008)

the children

I’ve been saying it for years, but this is just more proof that kids are evil!

Written By: Tom Shankland
Directed By: Tom Shankland

The Children is a horror movie I never would have given the time of day if left to my own devices. The subject matter isn’t troubling, nor do I have any problems with any of the cast or creative forces behind the motion picture. The reason I would have sidestepped The Children is because it’s a Ghost House Underground release. Every trailer I’ve seen for a film from that distribution label looks insipid. And, the lone film from that label I had seen before watching The Children was the abysmal Dark Floors. Based on pedigree alone there was absolutely no reason for me to ever give The Children the light of day.

Enter into the fray Will Smith and one of his podcasts, Midnite Ride. On one of the episodes of Midnite Ride Mr. Smith gave a very positive review to The Children. After that I heard some more positive word of mouth about this underseen little horror film. My interest was piqued, and I decided to take the plunge and give The Children a chance to win over my frosty heart.

From the very beginning I enjoyed the type of horror film that Tom Shankland was crafting. He put a heavy emphasis on place setting. This is an aspect of horror that I think most horror buffs, myself included, too often overlook. We tend to focus on scares, tension, suspense, gore, and kills more than anything else. The Children offers much of what horror fans should look for in a horror film, but it takes its time getting to those moments. Mr. Shankland sets the table in his film. He gives little hints at what’s going on with the characters while economically establishing place, time, and setting. By the time the killing does start in The Children the world of the film, and its characters, have been fully established. This ensures that what follows isn’t random violence, but death and mayhem with a purpose.

The violence, death, and gore in The Children is well done. It’s also quick and to the point, an element I greatly appreciated. The Children isn’t a slink around sort of horror film, with a couple of exceptions. For the most part a scene starts and almost immediately the narrative jumps into the who and the what of the pandemonium. This, again, speaks to the economy at play in Mr. Shankland’s direction. He doesn’t beat around the bush, he gets right to where the film needs to be, and the film is a brisk, yet effective, ride as a result.

Chances are you won’t be seeing Hannah Tointon, or the rest of the cast of The Children, in any films that are on your radar. The cast is populated by decent actors, but actors who haven’t made a name for themselves. This is not a negative in any way, the lack of star power helps the film in many ways. However, don’t let the lack of stardom affect the way you view Miss Tointon. Her performance is darn nifty, as she straddles the line between rebellious teenager and precocious youth. Near the end of the film there is a scene where Casey, Miss Hointon’s character, has to claw at the door. She screams and claws with the best of them and does a damn fine job of getting the audience in her head space.

I was wrong to dismiss The Children before ever seeing the film. The Children is a neat little horror film, one that is worthy of the underseen gem label. There are a lot of horror films pushed every year, and most of them are based on the same limited number of premises. That’s fine, there are after all only so many stories that can be told. The Children isn’t new or original by any means. It is, however, well-made and a lot of fun to watch, which makes me one happy horror buff.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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