ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Movie Review: See it....IF YOU DARE!!

Updated on October 10, 2012

Director: Tom Shankland
Cast: Eva Birthistle, Hannah Tointon, Rachel Shelley, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Eva Sayer, Rafiella Brookes, William Howes, Jake Hathaway

Synopsis:

In this 2008 British horror film, a family gathering during the Christmas holiday turns deadly when the children in the household contract a mysterious virus that turns them into cunning, cold blooded killers.

What's the Deal?:

In his review for The Human Centipede, Roger Ebert wrote: “I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it.” Even though his review scored a rotten on the Rottentomatoes website, he could not and did not write either a positive or negative analysis for the film. “It is what it is,” he concluded in his review. “And occupies a world where the stars don't shine.”

I feel as though I have to approach The Children in somewhat the same way. On the one hand, I hated this movie, yet on the other hand, I can not deny that the film worked its way under my skin in ways that few horror films have. To completely dismiss it with a “negative review” would be dishonest on my part. I have to admit that, as much as I disliked this film, I did find The Children to be a creepy and haunting film experience. Whether or not you want a movie like this to haunt you is something I'll leave for you to decide.

When it comes to the plot, there really isn't much to write about. The family at the heart of the story comes together and shares a couple of laughs, but then a little boy vomits outside the house, and from there, all hell breaks loose. One of the better aspects about the film is that it never explains how the young boy contracted the virus in the first place. As soon as he and his family arrive at their relative's secluded home, he jumps out of the car and almost immediately starts to get sick. Any further explanation than that would have seemed bone-headed and unnecessary. After all, what explanation could you possibly give for a virus that causes you to experience flu-like symptoms before it turns you into a psycho killer?

Come play with us. Forever....and ever......and ever....
Come play with us. Forever....and ever......and ever....

The one character the movie seems to single out is a rebellious teenager named Casey (Hannah Tointon), who did not want to make the trip to the family gathering because a few of her friends are throwing a party back home. She makes an effort to break away from her family and get picked up by her friend on the road near the house, but her plans are thwarted when the children claim her uncle Robbie (Jeffrey Sheffield) as their first victim. In the scene, we see him sliding down a slope on a sledge and one of the children placing a trolly full of sharp objects in his path at the very last second. It's a fairly gruesome scene, but believe me when I tell you that it's not the only thing the children do to him.

From there, the young tykes begin knocking off members of their family in an excruciatingly gruesome fashion. One woman gets stabbed in the eye with a coloring pencil by her daughter. Another woman is lured to the top of a slippery monkey bar set by her son, where...well, let's just say it leads to the one moment in the film where I literally cringed out loud.

The most unsettling scene in the film, however, doesn't happen until the very end. Casey escapes the house with her mother Laura. They eventually spot a wrecked vehicle in a heavily forested area that belongs to Laura's husband Jonah. Casey gets out of the car to look for Jonah. She sees a gaping hole in the windshield on the driver's side. To say what she finds after that would ruin the one scene that still makes my skin crawl, even as I write these words to you.

THIS PHONE IS YOUR NECK!!!!
THIS PHONE IS YOUR NECK!!!!

All of this is well handled by director Tom Shankland, who successfully establishes an atmosphere of unshakable dread even before the rivers of blood start to flow (some of the night shots of the eerie, snow covered forest near the home are positively chilling). The acting is actually quite good, especially the performances turned in by the quartet of psycho children. Their pale faces and dead stares are enough to send a chill down your spine.

The best performance is, I'd argue, turned in by 11 year old Eva Sayer, who plays Casey's little sister Miranda. The one thing that stands out about young Sayer's performance is the way she uses her eyes. They are truly some of the most expressive and haunting set of eyes I've ever seen on a child actress. In the beginning, she makes us care for her character even when she doesn't say a word. When she finally becomes infected by the psycho virus in the end (she's the last of the children to do so), there are shots of her making faces so frighteningly evil at times (like when she breaks the house phone so no one can call for help) that I found myself more than once cowering in my seat. I'd say this kid has a very bright future in the film business.

So, after having written all of that, how can I sit here and say that I hated the film? Because, as much of a horror movie lover as I am, when it comes to movies involving little children committing sadistic acts of violence, or having acts of violence committed against them (which does happen here), I do turn squeamish. Which isn't to say that I don't believe that a good movie can't be made about killer children; the 1976 horror film Alice Sweet Alice features a scene where a small child is murdered, and I consider it a great film. But whereas that film was driven by ideas and the filmmaker's need to tell the story, The Children doesn't really seem to have much on its mind except to gross out and shock the audience, which, I'll admit, it does very well.

There reaches a point, however, where you have to ask the question: When your movie shows little children, who look to be no older than ten, spilling this much blood, shouldn't you leave the audience with something other than just a lot of bad feelings? Shouldn't there be a purpose to a film with such vile images? There seems to be some hint that the movie will try to tackle issues dealing with abortion (note the tattoo of a fetus on Casey's stomach and how she describes it to her uncle; or the scene where she tells her mother “Haven't you heard of contraceptives?” while she's trying to care for her sick child), but nothing is ever made of it. With no real motivation to justify its existence, the movie ends up being nothing more than an exploitative slasher film.

Am I wrong to feel that way? I mean, when someone pays to see a horror film, they expect to be scared, right? If it should deal with some weighty themes along the way, then fine, but the primary purpose of any horror film is to scare its audience, and The Children is a scary film. So why am I complaining? The truth is that my review has shown more generosity towards the movie than it probably deserves. I have refrained from revealing the depths of my hatred for The Children because, for what it is, it is a well done film, and I know there are people who will be able to accept the movie for what it is. For those of you who can accept the film on its own terms, I say, have at it. You're going to get what you paid for. As for those who are as sensitive as I am about movies with sadistic children, who expect more than a well-made yet morally reprehensible exercise in blood-letting, stay as far away as you possibly can from The Children.

GRADES: 1/2 * for me
*** for everyone else


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)