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3.4 out of 5 stars
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3.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 March 2012
...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.
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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.
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on 6 January 2011
THIS IS A FAR BETTER FILM THAN SOME PEOPLE GIVE IT CREDIT FOR. I WASN'T EXPECTING MUCH MORE THAN A WATCHABLE FILM WITH CREEPY KIDS,BUT IT'S REALLY VERY GOOD. WHAT STARTS AS 2 FAMILIES HAVING CHRISTMAS TOGETHER,ENJOYING THE SNOW AND EACH OTHER'S COMPANY,SOON BECOMES SOMETHING QUITE EERIE. YOU JUST KNOW SOMETHING IN THE KIDS IS ABOUT TO SHOW IT'S UGLY FACE,IT BUILDS TENSION LIKE A TICKING TIMEBOMB,YOU KNOW IT'S ABOUT TO BLOW AND WHEN IT BLOWS,OH BOY,DOES IT BLOW!
THE KIDS ARE PLAYED VERY WELL BY THE YOUNG ACTORS,BEHAVING VERY DISTURBINGLY. THE DEATHS ARE CERTAINLY WELL DONE AND HAD ME WINCING,SOME OF THE SCENES I WOULD SAY ARE VERY BRAVE,THE RETALIATION AGAINST THE KIDS WHO HAVE TURNED INTO VICIOUS LITTLE SODS THANKS TO A VIRUS OF SORTS IS,IN MY VIEW QUITE SHOCKING.
CERTAINLY IT IS NOT THE BEST HORROR FILM I'VE SEEN,BUT I'M VERY GLAD I BOUGHT IT AND PLAN ON WATCHING IT AGAIN VERY SOON.
SERIOUSLY,DON'T BE PUT OFF BY NAGATIVE REVIEWS,AS LONG AS YOU DON'T EXPECT AMAZING,I THINK YOU'LL BE SURPRISED HOW GOOD IT IS.
THIS IS EASILY ONE OF THE CREEPIEST CHILDREN GONE BAD FILMS I'VE EVER SEEN.
HOPE THAT HELPS.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 March 2012
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
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on 1 April 2009
Just watched this last night and it could be bacause i had no expectations of the film so once it kept me awake for the 80 minutes it play i would be happy but i was surprised how much i enjoyed this film. Im glad they didnt try to drag it out for another 20 or 30 minutes and it leaves you wanting a little more instead of looking at the clock which is always good. I have seen all those other films where they try to make children look evil and you see a fully grown man with a kid wrapped around his ankle "killing" him and your thinking to yourself just kick the little rug rat off he's 3 for god sake but thankfully this film dosent go down the route of children overpowering adulds which was a relief and a refreshing new take on the killer children genre. The Kids do give you a chill and the film pulls off the demon child look perfectly and it did manage to give me a couple of jumps. Its was'nt made with the biggest of budgets but you wouldn't realise it at all from the beautiful way it's shot, There is'nt a small budget feel to the film and it's 10 times more entertaining than some big budget horrors i have seen recently like unborn. The only critacisms i have is that one of the deaths is one of those sequences where you see whats about to happen and next thing it cuts to a dead (well dying) body which makes you feel a little cheated in a horror film but the other deaths make up for this. I found the parents interaction a little strained and more like not so close friends stuck together rather than family spending the holidays together bit then again that could be a more realistic depiction really of familys together. A fantastic film from a fairly new director Tom Shankland which would make you think twice about inviting family with kids around for the holidays, definatly worth a watch a great DVD night in.
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on 7 April 2011
Really surprised at how fantastic this was. A nice couple of dysfunctional families and their kids who are pretty sick in more than just one way. Great acting from everyone and puts many other attempts at this genre to shame. Outstanding acting from the children, especially the teenager (Hannah tointon) who I've only seen previously in 'the invetweeners' think she is the ex eastenders strictly dancing stars sister. Really impressive performances all round. Half horror, half disaster movie, full on from start to finish gripping.
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on 30 April 2009
The premise of "The Children" is that of two rich upper-middle class families, both with small children, one also with a moody teenage girl, staying together for a winter weekend. While friendly on the surface, right from the beginning there is an undercurrent of animosity between the families, especially around issues of which are the better parents. As the film progresses, the children gradually fall victim to a sickness that leaves them by turn ill, in need of attention and irritable, symptoms which are initially put down to things like travel sickness or copying the other children.The brief scene However their behaviour becomes more and more inexplicable, and eventually they detach themselves from their panicking parents, packing together and becoming responsible - at first indirectly and later directly - for some hideous injuries and bizarre mutilations to the adults supervising them.

The film itself struggles a little at first to create an eerie atmosphere; an isolated forest setting in the snow, and a huge distinctive looking mock-Tudor mansion, potentially iconic in an Amityville [1979] kind of way, only go so far at first. Early on, the film relies rather heavily dark music and slow-motion shots of the children to give a sense of impending doom, however the viewer really still sees unthreatening images of children playing in the snow.

It's the child actors themselves that, later in the film, really come to the fore in creating an evil atmosphere. This plus the unavoidable associations with previous films which have visited this territory: "Village of the Damned / Children of the Damned (The Midwitch Cuckoos)[1960]" and "The Omen [1976]" are two of them, and three Stephen King films come to mind. You might see echoes of one of the twin girls from "The Shining [1980]", the behaviour of the reanimated toddler Gage from "Pet Sematary [1989]", and of course there are some obvious parallels in the "Children Of The Corn [1984] [DVD]".

I felt at one point that the film might fall into the trap of becoming a death-by-numbers film with a series of 'accidents' caused by the children, but thankfully the plot moves on without that happening. The already suggested animosity between the families flares, blame is attributed, and adult control is lost as adults turn on each other and the children head for the woods.

The film's last sequences are excellent; the viewer really can't guess how things will conclude, and there are unexpected twists and an ambiguous finale which can only preempt a sequel.

I've read more than one review suggesting "The Children" is a social commentary on the modern "Hoodie" and "Happy Slapping" phenomena, however I really couldn't see any of this myself, and I would rather place it in the realm of 'beyond-real-life' horror.

Some good characterisation in the form of upper-middle class knobbish views on parenting, but particularly good acting from very young children who manage to look evil and cute by turns, and all in all a jolly decent British horror film.
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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.’
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on 24 July 2011
in a nutshell 'the children' is about two families who are on vacation during winter, which turns into a fight for survival after the kids turn on their parents post to becoming somewhat psychotic. initially this sounds ridiculous, yet it's actually executed well, with careful developments on the children's mental deterioration, starting with the disappearance of the families domestic pet which then insidiously elevates into sadistic activity on the children's part.

i don't usually like to take films too seriously but despite this, there is definitely an issue with the films credibility; especially concerning the parents response to their children's psychotic behaviour. they irrationally become incapable of effectively defending themselves against their kids, , which may be attributed to the brutality of what is happening, yet in this particular situation it's proves very difficult to believe and is similarly not that scary. however, this wasn't a bad watch and as far as low budget british horror goes it was definitely worth it, i wouldn't necessarily advise potential buyers to steer away, yet it's far from brilliant and won't really keep you on the edge of your seat.
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on 1 April 2009
I was honestly expecting a standard slasher flick, but 'The Children' is a lot more subtle than that. Sure, there are some toe-curling, bum-puckering moments, but the director, Tom Markham, handles everything with flair -- a lot of the thrill of the film comes from good, old-fashioned tension-building. The performances were generally very good, (the kids were great, I thought). There's no gurning at the camera / gnashing teeth: the children came over as natural, but ever-so-slightly creepy. And every so often a sharp object (scissors, carving knife) gets caught front and centre of the shot, and you just KNOW it's going to be used for mischief...

One interesting aspect is that the film is shot entirely in daylight / artificial light -- there are no 'dark corners' that can be easily exploited to mess with your mind: everything is played out under a sort of glare (I don't know if this was an artistic or budgetary decision), but the director's ability to keep the tension going under such conditions is laudable. The one thing I thought was unnecessary was the need to give some sort of hint as to the source of the children's changed behaviour -- I think it would have been creepier, somehow, if this had gone unexplained.

Altogether an enjoyable, entertaining and thrilling hour and a half.
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