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The Children
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The Children (2008)

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Plot Summary:
"What seems like a normal trip to their auntie's and uncle's soon turns into a disaster as uncle Robbie is mysteriously killed after appearing to fall off a sledge, and then mysterious child like figures from the forest start attacking."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 12 July 2011 My Rating: out of 5


It’s Christmastime in the English countryside with two families made up of yuppie intellectuals (including Eva Birthistle from “The L Word”), teenager Hannah Tointon, and a younger set of kids. The festivities start to sour when the little kids start exhibiting wild and violent behaviour way outside of the norm. It starts with complaints of upset tummies, then temper tantrums, and then...bloody murder!

To say that this Tom Shankland (who also scripted) flick is one of the more effective horror films I’ve seen of late would probably be to damn the film with faint praise. Having said that, after a dull start, the film really gets going, and overall is pretty damn decent. For now, that’ll do. I have problems with it, sure (an overabundance of quick cuts, for instance), but a lot less than plenty of other horror films I could name.

Although I’m not a fan of filters or monochromatic cinematography, the snowy scenery in this looks terrific with the blue-grey filter, admittedly. The characters here are thankfully varied in age, something I’ve been harping on about for way too long now it seems. There’s really only one teenage character and she (Hannah Tointon) happens to be the most interesting character and Ms. Tointon is the best actress of the lot. However, Tointon’s character also happens to be the only interesting character over the age of 15 in the film. The adults here are horrible, pretentious, snooty people who like to show-off their Korean-speaking skills and whatnot to the amusement of only themselves. In fact, these are the kinds of yuppie adults that I don’t think would even want kids in the first place. It’s not exactly ‘one step forward, two steps backward’, but it’s still a bit of a shame that the adult characters aren’t remotely likeable, plausible, or interesting.

But, and thankfully it’s a pretty big but, the kids are the whole show here. When I first started watching this film, I was expecting these kids to turn out to be something like “The Omen” or “Village of the Damned”. But no, these little creeps are in a whole disturbing category of their own. They’re something else, alright and help make the film disturbing and somewhat effective. Message to prospective parents: Do not watch this film, it’ll mess you up six different ways and then some. The child actors are all pretty good, and quite scary because it seems like they can’t actually control themselves, which is a nice twist on the usual ‘evil child’ thing.

The violence and gore isn’t overly graphic but it’s certainly visceral and painful-looking, especially a jungle gym accident. There’s also a nice stab in the eye for those who like such things.

These kids are so incredibly nasty that the film very nearly comes off as a success, only to end up a near-miss because of the boring characters. Terrible ending, by the way. Seriously, if you can tell me what that’s about, drop me an email because I have zero idea.

Reviewer: Steven Davies @braindeadsteve
Location:Luton, UK
Review Date: 29 March 2009 My Rating: out of 5

Writer/director Tom Shankland ('Waz') brings us a bleak wintery tale of a group of children who not content with loving parents, Christmas time treats and all other worldly goodness succumb to a strange illness and turn on their parents in a gruesome manner.

A yuletide family get together in the country starts to go awry when the youngest child Paulie starts to feel poorly and this sickness seems to have an odd effect not only on him but soon spreads amongst the rest of the children. Following a few minor incidents things start to go very awry when one parent is killed in a seemingly accidental manor.

The teenage daughter Casey (played by Hollyoaks' uber-sexy Hannah Tointon, who achingly resembles Rose McGowan here) is being blamed for most of the bloody happenings mostly due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, it's not long before this unfounded finger pointing becomes clearly misguided when the group of Damian's run amok on a blood spilling spree.

Interestingly the movie seems to deal with a lot of notable imagery and verbal referencing to child birth and abortion which seems wholly intentional. Little to nothing is known about the cause of the illness or indeed the source, something which although adds to the uncertain nature of the movie it does ultimately become a little frustrating for the viewer.

All in all I was impressed with 'The Children'. It's a very unnerving little Brit flick that may especially leave parents themselves squirming in their seats. For what in lacks in substantial explanation it makes up for in shock and uneasiness.

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