The Children (2008)
the children | tom shankland | eva birthistle | stephen campbell moore | jeremy sheffield | mystery | thriller | united kingdom | rachel shelley | hannah tointon | rafiella brooks | jake hathaway | william howes | eva sayer | infection
Film: The Children
Director: Tom Shankland
Writer: Tom Shankland
Starring: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore and Jeremy Sheffield
This was a film that I had seen the poster for and I was intrigued by it. I decided to watch it when I saw it in Fangoria’s Top 300 horror films of all time, so I figured I’d give it a viewing. The synopsis is a relaxing Christmas vacation turns into a terrifying fight for survival as the children begin to turn on their parents.
A film like this carries an interesting concept. There is the moral dilemma that when the children turn against the parents, do you have the strength to kill your own child? As someone who currently does not have children, I find this to be interesting. On top of that though, I tend to find children particularly creepy in many films as well. That is definitely something we get here.
The idea of this film is a family is going to visit the wife’s sister at their home. This establishes a few things on its way, like it is winter as there is snow on the ground. The house they are going to is pretty remote and there get the isolated feeling, which is also particularly good here. The wife is Elaine (Eva Birthistle). She is married to Jonah (Stephen Campbell Moore). The film establishes he is trying to do some ‘get rich quick’ schemes and they don’t seem to be working. His newest one might actually have something to do with the plot as well. I’m also getting from this film that all of the children they have aren’t his. The eldest is Casey (Hannah Tointon). She is going through a rebellious phase and she isn’t happy to be going where they are going. There also is Miranda (Eva Sayer) and Paulie (William Howes). Paulie is the baby and he is treated that way.
They are staying with Chloe (Rachel Shelley), who is Elaine’s sister, and her husband Robbie (Jeremy Sheffield). They are into new age parenting with how they punish and they want to home-school their children. They have two children, Leah (Rafiella Brooks) and Nicky (Jake Hathaway). They don’t seem to be overly well disciplined and Leah might have some kind of immune disorder. This is important as when the other family arrives, Paulie throws up in the snow. Elaine thinks it is from being carsick, but we see something moving microscopically in it. This is about the extent of an explanation we get about what this is though, at least from what I gathered.
The film did introduce some interesting concepts. Through a tattoo we learn that Casey was an accident when Elaine was younger. There might even have been a failed abortion attempt as well. I found that interesting. There is also a creepy back and forth with Casey and Robbie. He seems a little too flirty to be her uncle. It could be harmless, but Casey and her friend don’t think so. It is slightly odd that Casey also seems to be into it. It does move the plot along so I don’t have a huge issue with it.
There were some pacing issues for the film though. I thought that it kind of was disjointed in the beginning and I found myself bored at times. The film does pick up and find its way, but I almost feel like the director who is also the writer, Tom Shankland, didn’t really know how to start this. I did find the tension does build well as the film goes along with some solid decisions made on what to do as it goes. I liked the ending and thought that it was strong.
The acting for the film was pretty good too. Birthistle I thought was solid, especially when she is faced with some of the hardest decisions on what to do in this film. There are a few times where she has to decide to save one child or the other. This would be an absolute difficult thing to do and I like it. Moore didn’t stand out or do much in the film for me. Same goes with Sheffield. Shelley I thought was interesting as she witnesses her niece and husband talking while Tointon is showing her tattoo, even though I’m not sure it was actually what she thinks. I really liked Tointon and can respect her position in the film. I also found her to be quite attractive. The children I’ll lump together. I thought they were all good and looked creepy. My only complaint is that Howes is never established in being normal and I think that was part of my issue with the film.
As for the effects of the film, this is something else that I thought was strong. They looked to be done practically, but the film also does a really good job at cutting away at the last second. It allows your brain to fill in what happened. The blood looked good in the film and there was actually some interesting kills. This film is pretty violent, which I find interesting that it is done on children and by children. This is definitely a plus for me.
The score of the film was also something that I found to be good. It fit the scenes for what they needed it to do and helped to build the tension. I do really have to also mention the last scene of the film. We get to see two difficult shots, with a song that was quite eerie and we just focus there like that for some time. It really was a good way to use the final shot and song effectively.
Now with that said, I found this film to be above average. It did some things really well. I thought the concept was strong. I thought the story could have been, but I think it really needed to establish a bit more of the scope or what was causing this. I don’t need everything spelled out, just a little bit more. There were some good elements as well like the setting and the family dynamic. I thought the pacing had issues early and did pick up. The ending I thought was good along with the moral dilemmas the characters face. The acting I thought was good, aside from the need to establish one of the characters more. The effects were as well and the score of the film was solid. Overall I’d say that this is an above average film. This is from the United Kingdom, so I ended up watching it with subtitles to ensure I didn’t miss anything as well.
My Rating: 6 out of 10