Evil children has been done before. Hell, its been done so many times that I actually put off seeing this film for quite some time. "Orphan" filled my need for killer children quite nicely and I figured this wouldn't be as good as I could have hoped, thusly, throwing it on the back burning. Eventually, I caught some solid reviews of the film from some of my favorite critics and decided to pop it in and give it a run.
As a couple of couples and their younglings gather round for Christmas, they find that tensions start to build and the children start to act funny as they suddenly come down with an odd sickness. A rebellious teenage daughter and her family find themselves at odds with each other and the fucked up kids as they desperately try to piece together what is happening.
I was immensely impressed with this low budget British film. Although it took a bit for the film to get going, all of the character work and establishment of setting and plot at the start up paid off when it started to really burn off later on. "The Children"'s director, Shankland, does a pretty solid job throwing in old school Horror elements into a relatively modern style to give us a little of the best of both worlds here. Significant tension mounts considerably through the beginning and mid sections before a final act that borderlines on the slasher element and it swiftly moves the flow of the film into them. The visual style was striking in its mixture and a solid and vague story adds a lot of 'what the fuck is going on' frustration to the audience and characters (all of it in a good way).
The flaws of "The Children" were fairly minuscule in comparison to what it accomplishes. Some might find the vague story of the 'illness' that suddenly nails the kids to be a flaw, where I found it to be a nice use of the real time aspect of the film and adds to the isolation element. I can see it being an issue with some, so there if fair warning there. My one complaint with "The Children" has to go with some of the acting which on the whole was quite good, but there were some iffy moments here and there. Not a whole lot that I felt was not going to pay off here and I appreciate that.
Now, killer children stories have been done to death in the Horror genre, but "The Children" takes a tried and true formula and makes it really stick with the viewer. I'm not sure how this film won't make you fear children by the end.
Written By Matt Reifschneider