...it's the adults you have to feel sorry for here. `The Children' is a horror movie about a couple of yuppie families, coming together to celebrate new year's eve in a nice, out-of-the-way mansion (one of those with no mobile phone signal just when you need them). After discussing the benefits of home-schooling their offspring and Chinese herbal medicine, the children of both families go nuts and start murdering their parents indiscriminately. Why? Um, we don't know. They just do.
It's actually quite good too. There is gore, but it's done well and not overused. The adults are pretty smug and it's quite fun when they get the smile wiped off their faces using a sledge and a climbing frame (you'll have to watch it to understand).
The first half of the film sets the second, more gruesome, half up quite nicely. The best part of The Children is the children. It was obviously difficult persuading a bunch over under ten year olds to act like Jason Voorhees, but they've managed it here (presumably without ending up psychologically damaging the poor kids for life). The kids are pretty damn creepy.
Some reviewers have pointed out that one of the film's flaws is that the baddies are kids. Just kids. No superpowers or anything, just kids. Therefore it shouldn't be that hard to subdue them. However, bear in mind that those being hunted are the children's parents, therefore they may find it hard to defend themselves against a little person they've spent their life bringing up.
The Children isn't a perfect movie, but if you like horror, you should find it fun.
Of course if the parents had done what the rest of us adults do when our kids get out of hand, i.e. put on Cbeebies at the first sign of unrest, then none of the bad stuff in the film would have happened. All hail Peppa Pig. This film is the best advert for birth control you'll ever see.
The Children is directed by Tom Shankland who adapts the screenplay from a Paul Andrew Williams story. It stars Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell, Hannah Tointon, Eva Sayer, William Howes, Rachel Shelley and Jeremy Sheffield. Music is by Stephen Hilton and cinematography by Nanu Segal.
A Christmas holiday at a remote country home turns into a fight for survival when the children suddenly start to turn on the adults.....
Could you kill your own kid? There's a nasty edge to Shankland's little shocker, and we are not just talking about creepy kids offing adults here. Although lifting freely from classic evil-children horrors from the past, The Children manages to remain fresh by playing on the aspect of the parents' refusal to accept that their cherubic offspring could do evil. Even when faced with blatant malevolence, the adults struggle to fight back. I mean, could you drop-kick your own child down the stairs? Added kicker in the writing is that the only character in the set-up who grasps what is going on is the troubled teenager (Tointon excellent), a nice twist for it is so often the case in horror movies that we bemoan dumb teens doing even dumber things.
With the makers unfolding the drama amongst a virginal snowy setting, there's much thought gone into crafting more than just a standard gory shocker. Shankland shows a good sense of mood and pacing, drip-feeding the unease and never getting carried away with the premise. His closeup camera-work has an unsettling quality to it, while the deaths are inventive and mercifully not over done, the editing neatly giving us the viewers the chance to fill in the blanks. Some of the adult actors irritate rather than gain our belief, and the odd "dumb" reaction to a situation rears its ugly head. But mostly this is a thoughtful and spicy Brit horror that's worth seeking out by those after more than your rank and file slasher movie. 7/10
on 20 March 2015
As classic horror movies The Omen and The Exorcist prove children are as good an enemy as any other boogeyman and far more effective for me than Freddie(boring)Kruger or yawn yawn Michael Myers.
This very scary and always unnerving British chiller is up there with some of the best Britain has produced down the years and stands out because of the acting in particular of the young cast members and its truly terrifying scary scenes.
The plot is a family of five with three children(including teen Casey played by outstanding actress Hannah Tointon)who go to visit the mothers sister and her family at their posh country home.Upon arrival their son becomes ill and soon after the other children start to get the same illness in which they also become violent towards the adults and withdrawn.As the film goes on they start to attack the adults and teaming up to kill them off in the most evil and horrible ways possible.More and more attacks happen with children hurting their own parents and older child Casey before its mainly up to Casey to try and stop them before they get their wish which is kill all the adults and be in charge.As we get towards the thrilling finale can these evil Damien like critters be stopped.
The story to this horror is exciting,scary and relentless all at the same time and at times feels like a cross between The Omen,The Exorcist and 28 Days Later with the children having the pure hatred and evil of Damien and the anger of the rage virus from Days Later and they are as creepy as any horror bad guy.
The acting as i said earlier is excellent especially from the child actors as the adults don't get to be in it too long.The standout though is Tointon who plays Casey with every inch of her acting ability whether its sullen don't want to be there teen to trying to convince the adults of the children's madness to finally trying to fight back against the evil kids you believe her journey through the film right to the last reel even though we are not quite sure if she is infected or not.
The set pieces are relentless with the kids trying purposely to hurt or kill the grown ups by using things like sledges,knives,climbing frames and even dolls to get what they want and each death or attack is pretty gruesome and nasty but very precise as if this virus makes them more intelligent a bit like the sharks in Deep Blue Sea.
I can't really think of a negative to this film apart from the adults thickness to not believing what they see which can get you screaming at the tv to wake them up,the blood can be a bit much too at times but its only a few niggles really.
This is a shocking,nail biting and chilling experience that maybe makes you think twice about having kids and if you do hoping they never become like these little monsters in this horrific British classic.
I liked this. I watched it during a quiet afternoon and found it to be quite tense at times which is something I haven't experienced in a film for a while.
A pleasant New Year gathering is marred somewhat by the children of two groups of friends becoming unwell and embarking upon a murderous rampage in this British horror. The only potential explanation provided for this turn of events comes when one of the children coughs something up and wipes it on her pillow, the camera then microscopically zooms in and you see all the little microbes milling about in the fluid. One of the fathers is also involved in bio-chemistry, otherwise it is left to the assumption of the viewer whether they interpret these events as some type of viral infection or another cause not explained.
The acting I thought was good with interesting dynamics going on between the group. Interspersed with quite shocking events, I'm never 100% comfortable with mixing children and horror especially the despatching of little ones so this does somewhat ramp up the visceral shock value for me.
Some of the frenetic scenes are quite confusing in how they are filmed and required rewinding and reviewing on a couple of occasions but there is enough to recommend with this one. Lasting just under 80 mins and with a nice initial story/character develpment for the first 20 odd mins it does pack quite a lot in its slim running time.
Again probably worth 3 and a half stars but rounded up to 4 for ratcheting up the tension. Definetly worth taking a chance on.
on 31 January 2011
Being a Horror fan I have seen them all and was not expecting much from the trash that is flushed out to us. But I'm pleased to tell you that this movie was a nice surprise. The plot was basic, the characters were believable, and the movie had a nice pace. The basic concept as well as the promotional posters and stills looked great, so the only concerns I had left were the possible restrictions in depicting brutality committed by and violent retaliation against the children. Well I must say that I was really impressed with this film. Kudos to writer/director Tom Shankland for delivering an old-fashioned unhinged, uncompromising, shocking and hardcore-to-the-bone killer kids flick!. The Children is also a lot more than just an exploitative and senselessly violent shlock movie. It's a bona fide creepy and atmospheric thriller, with some genuine moments of sheer suspense, and even a witty social satire, with many accurate observations on nowadays family life. Two couples with mutual offspring as well as children from previous relationships unite in a secluded country house to celebrate the New Year.
Suddenly and seemingly without inducement, a vicious and unidentified virus metamorphoses the children into emotionless killers. Shankland does a terrific job building up a foreboding suspense all throughout the first half of the movie; without showing any graphic bloodshed. The Children honestly creeps you out and makes you feel tense long before the kids' murderous tendencies break loose. Elements that contribute to increase the already quite high level of exasperation include the isolated country setting, eerie soundtrack and - of course - the misleadingly innocent faces of the child actors. Don't expect witty one-liners or well-constructed phrases that shouldn't normally come out of children's mouths. In the first half of the film, we see them act and play the way children do. It feels natural. All the more amazing to see those same kids gradually transform into emotionless, vicious little killers during the second half of the movie. And most of the time Shankland achieves this not by having the kids say menacing things or act hysterical. It's a matter of choosing the right camera-angles and keeping them silent and sneaky. It makes them all the more imposing and the film a lot more creepy. The death sequences of both the adults and infants were intense and a bit gory so it's not recommended for those who are squeamish, but if your a gorehound then your going to love it. Overall I would have to say that The Children was a great British horror film that was quite effective and makes up for a solid viewing experience. It's not like classic horror films with killer kids like Village of the Damned or Who Can Kill a Child but it was still entertaining.
on 10 June 2016
‘Well darling, writer/director Tom Shankland has taken parenthood and its problems with naughty children to an ultimate and disturbing conclusion in this film. Not easy subject matter but it has been done before, so Shankland has opted for a fairly bog-standard horror to make his mark.’
‘Has he mummy?’
‘Yes dear and it was a mistake. I was very surprised to see that the film was well rated by some of my favourite critics. My own view is that this is a noisy mess of a film with kids screaming blue murder from start to finish and their parents coming to sticky ends by their little hands. The violence is reciprocated too, in a couple of scenes which may prove controversial as little kiddiewinks come to similarly gruesome ends, although there’s not a huge amount of gore. In the scheme of things though, I found these scenes laughable and on the back of them I was thankful for a bit of peace and quiet.
‘You see darling, the little monkeys are suffering from some kind of virus, although not the kind which would be readily diagnosed by their GP. It’s a fact that we’re shown in a very clumsy way.
‘The parents are essentially good people and intelligent too, so the fact that they fail to realise that their kids are behaving strangely represents the first major flaw. Their subsequent illogical actions and reactions casts an additional shadow over the proceedings and the ability of one of them to drive along a rough track apparently painlessly with a shattered shinbone takes the biscuit. ‘
‘Can I have a biscuit mummy?’
‘Not yet dear. Poorly written with some dodgy and confusing direction and editing along with pointless shots of woodland and kids toys in the snow which are meant to create an unsettling mood (but don’t, or at least didn’t for me), it thankfully only runs for 87 minutes.’
‘That's almost an hour and a half, isn’t it mummy?’
‘Yes darling. And it could have been longer but we have been spared. There were times when I wondered if the director actually knew what he was doing. While there may be a subtext regarding parenthood and naughty children, it matters not a jot because it’s not dealt with in a way which is in the least thought provoking.
‘It doesn’t sound very interesting, does it mummy?’
‘It’s not darling. And put that knife down before you hurt someone.’
on 4 August 2013
Yet more proof, were any such needed, that the ringing cat chorus of the UK being a "wonderful new horror institution" is either desperation born of self-delusion, or the same kind of canny marketing lie that sells sweetener-heavy cereal bars and smoothies as health kicks, so you avoid the chocolate and crisps you'd actually have been better off with in the first place; therfore, before I wax on lyrical repeat about the days when horror was horror and not an anorexic excuse to camouflage and buff up another routine parents and kids get-together in the country with an even more absurd premise than 'Eden Lake', this film, if that's what it is, looks lovely. The house itself is a 'Hello' magazine spread, the wooded hills a sledder's delight, and boasts a decent name cast you appreciate but couldn't love for signing on for such a listless stitched together 'Omen' from Stephen King's needle and thread. For the last time primary schoolers are NOT scary, NOT threatening, just damn annoying, and you can't cringe enough each time the camera pans on to their full-on face close-ups, where, far from looking dead-eyed and murderous, they seem to need the toilet or are wondering when the director will say cut so they can have a E-number heavy treat. I presume hyperactivity plus boredom is all the expectorate the makers of this tedium needed to cohesively unexplain why well-cared for sprogs should laughably crayon into 'Village Of The Damned' dronoids, minus the glowing eyes-and, er, the inherent creepiness and set about their Ma and Pa thus far.
The usual cliches abound with parents woefully blind to their spawn's "change", though admittedly no switch was ever flipped there either; they call out their names repeatedly in the woods after letting them run off for the upteenth time, they approach outhouses and sealed-up tents with speed a drunk slug would outperform-and it's all so utterly devoid of impact, suspense and any plausibility, yet it'd be remiss of me not to handout two slight treats-a few adults didn't exactly die at pre-programmed points, and a few of the sprogs were dealt a touch what they deserved, yet it's the the film-makers who deserve something-a complete reality check, namely that (a) children are NOT scary or threatening until they become so with age and are then praised for being a non-inspiration for a cinematic plague of asbo-brat pretend-horrors (b) no amount of false advertising will render a heavily derivative style worth wanting (c) if you're going for the unreality of patricide by obnoxious imps barely tall enough to see over a coffee table, at least try casting the creepiest spawn you can find and, last but not least (d) the shock of violent children lost its impact after Stephen King's 'Children Of The Corn' first harvested it so well, and even that film was no classic, but compared to this, it easily becomes one.
'The Children' quite fairly then ends up a fair hopscotch leap away from being the worst film of 2008, and ends up being less a disappointment than other late Brit attempts like 'Wake Wood' (which Eve Birthistle was also in, and has now got me worried for her horror career) and 'Unhappy Birthday', if only cos it didn't aspire to so much, so it was always going to beneath these, even as they radically threw their hard-earned reps away in the last half hour. I'd also adamantly never declare 'The Children' as worst horror offering of 2008 either: it would have to be one in the first place to at least contend, but we can at least attest that, by today's UK standard of chills, it certainly secures a place in the school of fraud just by being, with no references asked for or needed. Tick.
on 18 October 2010
A rather unsettling horror , The children goes where no other film goes - having to kill your own children. i think this is what makes it interesting as no one in there right mind would want to do that. The parents never belive there is anything wrong with their kids which leads to some grisly deaths! the setting is really good - isolated in the country with nowhere to get way from them and they make good use of the surroundings.
the acting is really good - especially from the children , they play , well not really sure how to put it , 'possessed' killers very well and the adults and the teenage daughter are also good :) there is a little cliffhangar at the end , its up to you whether to decide whats happening but its a good ending. we never find out whether the virus goes away and the children get better but i thought that would have been good to encorporate in the storyline but thats just my opnion :)
The Children is unsettling and spine-chilling low-budget British horror, with effective and disturbing scares and top - notch acting - recommended!
Obviously The Children rings faint echoes of The Omen and Village of the Damned, but it contains enough original ideas and a well-crafted atmosphere of menace to create a compelling and genuinely unsettling horror movie. Not perfect - some of the adults' actions seem pretty illogical, but, as a parent, could you even begin to think logically under such circumstances? I suspect many of the negative reviews here come from non-parents! The level of acting is decent, from the shell-shocked adults and especially from the kids, who switch from wide-eyed innocence to demonic homicidal maniac mode with astonishing professionalism. The gore is fairly restrained, but wince-makingly realistic enough when it needs to be and the ending leaves a few questions unanswered, but is nicely balanced.
On the whole, a very decent effort, which stays with you long after the movie has finished.
on 19 November 2015
I saw this modern Brit Horror film for the first time on television, on Film Four, I was instantly taken by it and it stuck in my mind....I remember thinking that it was one of the best Brit Horror film's in year's, with a very good Science Fiction element, it's certainly not a Slasher film or anything as ridiculous or tedious as that, as it's a very intelligent script was a viral/contagium concept like '28 Day's Later', it put mein mind of the atmosphere and the mysterious effective power of the 1961 classic of Brit Sci-Fi/Horror film, 'The Village Of The Damned', but with the threat of & menace of 'Eden Lake', 'Rise Of The Footsoldier', 'Harry Brown', 'Outlaw', 'The Crew', 'Citadel' (now) completely different story, but that sort of genuinely disturbing feel, the psychological horror is more effective & disturbing than Slasher film's like 'Halloween', 'Friday The 13th', 'A Nightmare On Elm Street', 'Prom Night', 'Black Christmas', 'Sillent Night, Deadly Night', 'Slumber Party Massacre', 'Sleepaway Camp', 'Slaughter High', 'Graduation Day', 'Slaughterhouse', 'Motel Hell', 'My Bloody Valentine', in this Brit Horror film, the violence felt somehow real, not like other film's, the children of the title play out like children would in real life, they seem somehow innocent?, even in the most enraged scene's of the film, great realistic and believable performane's, especially the children, plus I particularly like the casting of the actor as 1 of the father's, who played Alex Drake's (Keeley Hawes) daughter Molly's Solicitor Godfather in the BBC's fantastic 1981 set first series of 'Ashes To Ashes', 'The Children' is certain to be a modern Brit Sci-Fi/psychological Horror film, a great value, condition, worthy film to have on DVD.