That last film I watched, 'Eden Lake', affected me no end. My nights are now filled with awful nightmares of murderous kids chasing me through an endless forest.
And now my waking hours are being invaded - haunted even - by ghostly children as the wind that whistles through the igloo now sounds to my fragile mind like children's laughter. Menacing. Mocking. Malevolent. Murderous. And bloody annoying.
So I pray for something to take my mind off this macabre train of thought. I note that I haven't had an old classic horror to watch for a while. Something from the 40's or 50's would be a welcome piece of nostalgia for me to enjoy, for example.
Aha! Here comes today's film, and I think I'm in luck! Unless I'm very much mistaken I can see the faint outline of Boris Karloff appearing through the static...
THE CHILDREN (2008)
My name is The Igloo Keeper and I am a horror fan. I watch 30 or 40 new horror films a year knowing that most of them will be rubbish. I do this because 7 or 8 will be worth watching. A couple will be great.
The Children is directed by Tom Shankland, whose previous film, Waz, you might know by its alternate tiles Wdelta Z or The Killing Gene. Don’t get me started on alternate titles.
Is it any good? Yes. One of the best horrors I’ve seen in a long time in fact. Tom Shankland sure knows how to direct. The cinematography and use of sound in this film is outstanding. You feel that the camera is always placed in the correct – if sometimes unusual – position (one particularly effective aerial outdoor shot springs to mind as we follow a trail of blood). Best of all, he treats the audience with a degree of intelligence. We pass by a table with scissors on it. We pass the table again and notice the scissors are missing – if we’re paying attention that is…
All this wouldn’t count for much if The Children didn’t deliver in the horror department, and thankfully it does. I was genuinely unsettled and creeped out throughout. At one stage I literally felt my spine chill (only to discover an icicle from the igloo roof was dripping down my back).
Creepy children are a horror staple, but some might say they’re a bit of a cliché.
How can you make them scary without being a bit… silly? Well, what Tom (I’ve decided I like him so much I’m going to call him by his first name) does is use restraint. He doesn’t ask them to act spooky or evil. He pretty much gets them to act like kids. And this works because it makes things believable – wonderfully, horrifyingly believable - even when these kids are running around with sharp pointy objects and playing the most peculiar games with dead bodies.
Here’s the plot in brief – a smug couple with a couple of kids arrive at their friends’ remote country home. Their friends are another smug couple with loads of kids. One of the kids gets sick. He goes a bit weird. Slowly, the other kids follow suit. Weirdness turns into a depraved bloodlust for adult flesh! That last line is a bit of an exaggeration, but I like it so I’ll leave it in. There also appears to be some sort of sub-text about abortion and pregnancy that I couldn't quite work out.
In summary then, dear reader, The Children manages to avoid most horror cliches, and is a genuinely unsettling and scary film made with real skill and flair. This is rare. So please enjoy it.
The only bad thing about the film is the rather lame 'You bought them into this world...' tag-line on the poster and on this trailer. Tom obviously didn't have anything to do with that.
Scary Monsters #99 - interview with Derek Koch - In issue #99 of SCARY MONSTERS MAGAZINE Dr. Gangrene interviewed Rondo Award winning podcaster Derek Koch. (Click to enlarge and read)
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