Directed by Tom Shankland [Other horror films: w Delta z (2007)]
I forget exactly when I first saw this British addition to the killer kid sub-genre, but I suspect it was during an October sometime between four to seven years ago. From my vague recollection, I didn’t much care for this one, and seeing it again with fresh eyes, I hate to agree with that earlier assessment. The Children may not be a bad film, but it’s certainly not as good as many seem to think, and I genuinely find the movie unremarkable with a hint of frustration.
Make that a lot of frustration, actually. Maybe this is simply because I’m not a parent, but if someone is trying to stab you, you have every right to defend yourself, no matter if the assailant is a kid or not. Yet the parents here wore blinders when it came to the fact that their children weren’t just a little dangerous, but fatally so. It took a teenage girl (played fantastically by Hannah Tointon) to do most of the work, and what does she get out of it? Nothing but hatred and physical pain from the others.
She’s not entirely the perfect character though, either, especially toward the end. I’ll just say this so I don’t give too much away: STAY THE HELL IN THE CAR AND DRIVE BY, YOU IDIOT!!
Now that I have that out of my system, I can briefly try to explain why I didn’t care for this one. Partially, it has to do with the fact that both times I’ve seen The Children, I can never tell the children apart, and thus, I don’t know who’s who’s kid, and it just loses me with names of kids that I sure as hell aren’t going to remember. In all fairness, it was better this time around, but still, I didn’t love any of the characters aside from the teen played by Tointon, which hurt.
None of this is to say that Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley, or Eva Birthistle put in bad performances, but I pretty much thought all of their characters, save Sheffield’s, were terrible. It’s probably a good performance that made me dislike their characters so, but either way, the only one here I really liked was Tointon’s character (who looked smoking in that unseasonably drafty short skirt, if I may say so).
This reminds me of one thing I did rather like about the movie, being it’s setting. It takes place in a decently-sized house in the country during winter, with a bit of snowfall toward the end, which looked pretty cool. It’s just a shame the story they came up with (and ‘twist’ to follow, if you want to call it that) wasn’t great.
Was the gore okay? Reasonably, when the movie deigned to go in that direction. At the same time, while it was nice finally seeing kids meet the grisly end they’re so often denied in horror films, I don’t know if anything here was particularly memorable, problematically. There was potential during a few scenes (the kids had plenty of sharp instruments at their disposal), but it never quite got there.
I can’t exactly pinpoint why I don’t like this one more. It’s not like I think the movie’s terrible, but I definitely find it underwhelming despite some decent tension of Tointon’s performance. When it comes to killer kid movies, I’d go as far as to recommend Peopletoys, also known as Devil Times Five or (get this atrocious reissue title) The Horrible House on the Hill over The Children, or even Mikey, or hell, even The Good Son. But this British movie isn’t one I enjoyed either time I’ve seen it, and though it really feels like it should be better, it’s a consistently disappointing film.
This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.