There’s nothing like creepy kids wreaking havoc upon their parents during the Christmas season to really invoke some holiday spirit. The Children is—without a doubt—one of the most downright disturbing and effective films brought to us by the newly primmed and polished version of Ghost House Pictures, Ghost House Underground. One of the first to be released by GHU, The Children outwits and ultimately supersedes the majority of films to be released through the former, Ghost House Pictures, while making Children of the Damned look like an episode of that God awful purple fucking pathetic excuse for a creature of the prehistoric era that I”m sure we’re all familiar with. After all, it isn”t aliens we’re dealing with here, these are children who haven”t even reached the double digits yet!
The film starts out by introducing us to three families who reunite at a remote winter residence to celebrate the holiday season together. One of the youngest immediately starts showing seemingly common symptoms of the flu. The obscurity of the children’s illness is established through the film by the clever use of sporadic dialogue during some sequences and visually stunning extended shots of the seven year old sickos. The parents’ naivety contrasts well against the overpowering malevolence of the children. The genuinely believable cast of characters is the product of a well-crafted script that doesn’t venture too far away from plausibility—as mentioned earlier, these aren’t aliens or some other unearthly manifestation, these are little kids suffering from what we perceive to be a common ailment.
Writer/Director Tom Shankland does a superb job of reinventing a story that defies the boundaries of a topic which very few would even dare try tackling, by presenting the viewers with the ultimate parental taboo: Killing your own kids to save your own life. The plot holes are plentiful but planted so brilliantly throughout the film that they actually enhance the overall eeriness of the premise. Here are these portrait-perfect parents that go from enjoying what is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year together with their children, to gradually slipping deeper down the excruciating spiral of their offspring’s madness—and after all is said and done, we are left without even the slightest idea as to how or why it happened…only the vague image of a mysterious yellow substance shown momentarily during the first half hour of the film.
The limited budget and lack of excessive gore (with the exception of a few brief visual atrocities) will most likely leave fans of “Hollywood Horror” feeling ripped off and probably somewhat bitter towards Director Tom Shankland, who is known for the graphic nature of his earlier work, acclaimed Polish-Horror film, WAZ. I pity the fools who walk out of the theater 100 percent satisfied after having wasted 90 minutes of their time watching something like The Grudge. It must really suck to have to completely turn off your brain in order to enjoy a film, when there are so many underestimated, thought-provoking cinematic gems out there that have yet to be discovered.
The Children does for “Killer Kiddie” horror what INSIDE did for vengeance tales by providing an entirely fresh new take on a common theme. Guaranteed, you”ll be reluctant to step anywhere near a playground or toy store after having your perception of childhood innocence violently altered.