All four of the murderous, little brats screamed at the top of their lungs for the first half of The Children. Not just yelling, I’m talking the kind of ear-piercing banshee wail that only small children can produce. The reason you sometimes find first grade teachers babbling incoherently, slowly rocking themselves in the back of the coat closet with blood dripping from their ears.
The rest of the movie, not so much. I have a hard time finding children very frightening unless they have super powers or the backing of Satan’s army. They cry about every little thing, their little fingers aren’t that great at manipulating complex objects and they are too short to get their own stemware when you crack open a bottle of Merlot.
The children’s key weapon is surprise and The Children does manage to work that fairly well. The action moves along quickly and at no point did I really think the kids had lost that surprise edge amid the chaos that erupts. You can understand the hesitation to defend yourself against a child. Until you’ve seen the tiny freaks gutting someone, that tinge of reasonable doubt will always hamper you.
However, they are still little buggers. A lot of things have to go right for a group of four mini-murderers to take out five reasonably in shape adults. Even if the adults are self-satisfied douchebags. It is perhaps not surprising to these parents when their children are brooding, petulant and violent. Kids will be kids. I hope this doesn’t go on their permanent record. We don’t want these little angels to be declined admission to the university of their choosing.
Perhaps I should only count four adults. I suppose a 16-year-old can’t be counted on for anything. Am I right?! Settle down, you teens, I was just joking. Also, put that phone away. No texting in the IF Movie Classroom!
There are a few continuity goofs. I can’t get too uptight about some filming gaffes here and there. It’s not a huge production. I didn’t expect it to be perfect. The movie is trying to hang its head on mood and tension and none of those goofs really get in the way of that.
On the positive side, the children were decent little actors. Perhaps children are just born to be creepy.
Additionally, we avoid having the characters act truly without reason. Primarily because everything happens so quickly. They barely have time to keep critical information to themselves or to unreasonably go off on their own into the woods where they know a giant, alien bear serial killer has been skinning and smoking the neighbors over a peat fire.
There are some folk who will tell you many of these characters make strange and inexplicable choices. I can’t agree. This all happens quickly. People are not smart. They become even less so in an emergency. Particularly one that doesn’t seem to make any sense. The adults were also drinking. Hoo boy have I made some strange decisions while on the sauce. Let’s not talk about that.
The scenery is solid. Who doesn’t like a snowy, English country manor tucked in the woods far from civilization? The teenager, of course. And the groundskeeper, but that’s another horror story altogether.
When the shit hits the fan, everyone is in a proper state of uncertainty and terror. The resulting cock-ups are never too difficult to believe (it is a horror movie, after all, don’t go all stiff on me). That is, up until the final moments. When the escape vehicle is surround by eerie looking children in the snowy woods and what every viewer had been waiting for happens. Cue credits and mild disappointment.
If you want an explanation for what has befallen the children, you won’t get one. I am fine with that. However, there are some indicators. Those indicators don’t necessarily all fall in line. What’s up with the radio? Why are the trees angry? I blame the screaming. I think I can still hear those kids screaming. I may have blown out an eardrum.
The movie is a decent enough film for the budget. It isn’t a can’t miss, but I’ve seen far worse. I give it 3 dead kids out of 5. If only the other two would stop screaming already.