Who Can Kill a Child?
who can kill a child? narciso ibanez serrador | lewis fiander | prunella ransome | antonio iranzo | exploitation | children | mystery | thriller | spain | miguel narros | maria luisa arias | marisa porcel | juan cazalilla | based on | novel | juan jose plans
Film: Who Can Kill a Child? (¿Quién puede matar a un niño?)
Director: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
Writer: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
Starring: Lewis Fiander, Prunella Ransome and Antonio Iranzo
This was a film that I don’t actually think I’ve heard of until Duncan over on The Podcast Under the Stairs selected this for July’s Movie Club Challenge. He is selecting films from Spain and he stated this was an interesting piece of exploitation cinema. I had a bit of trouble finding a copy, but did secure one through eBay pretty cheap on the DVD. The synopsis here is a couple of English tourists arrive on an island where all the children have gone crazy and are murdering the adults.
Now I will state that the synopsis is a bit spoiler heavy. Having seen the film though, that isn’t the important aspect to it. The title of the movie is really the more important part and that is what intrigued me about seeing the movie.
We kick this off with getting documentary type footage of Auschwitz, the war between Iran and India, issues that came from the Korean War, the Indo-China War as well as what is happening in Nigeria. The movie is giving us the stats of how many people are dying there, then breaking it down to how many of them are children. To jump ahead slightly, there’s a man in a shop that states that children suffer in war and in famine. This struck me at the time and I can see how this plays into the concept. I’ll dive into that a bit later though.
The movie then gives us a crowded beach. A child finds a body in the water of a woman. When the ambulance takes the body away, they point out that she didn’t drown. There are stab wounds all over her body. We get to see a newspaper a bit later as well that states another is found as well.
We then get to meet our main characters. There’s Tom (Lewis Fiander) and his pregnant wife Evelyn (Prunella Ransome). They’re on holiday from England to visit Spain. Tom growing up came to an island by the name of Almanzora, a place he hadn’t visited since he was a child. They are on a bus that brings them to the coastal town of Benavis that is having a large festival at this time.
They take in the sights, but they can’t find a room. The man at the desk sends them to a woman who should have a room available. The couple takes in more of the festival as well as prepares to go to this island. The following day they rent a boat and discover the island seems to be deserted. At first Tom believes there must be a festival on the other side of the island as he thinks he remembered them having grand ones as a child. The only people they encounter are some boys on the dock and one of them is quite rude to Tom when he tries to look in his basket.
The truth of what happened on this island is much worse and it becomes a fight for survival as the only ones left are the children. It also makes you question what you would do when faced with the difficult decision, can you kill a child?
That’s where I want to leave my recap of this movie as I think that gives enough of the background to what we’re working with here and allowing me to delve into some of the deeper aspects to how I understand this movie. First, I didn’t realize until sitting down that this is based on a novel. I’m intrigued to check this out now, as it appears that dives more into explaining what the cause for what is happening. I don’t necessarily need an explanation, as we do see it is something that can be spread though.
To get back into what I was saying earlier, I find this interesting for the fact that the writer/director of the film really wanted to play up that children are dying at the decisions of adults throughout the world. Something I didn’t bring up is the night in Benavis, Tom shares the story of something I believe from La Dolce Vita. I’ve never seen this, but I have heard of it and know of its existence. It is stating that in that movie, a father kills his children so they don’t need to experience the horrible decisions of man. This is something else interesting to bring up, because the movie is literally children getting their revenge on this island.
Tom for a long stretch of this as they’re surviving is trying to shield Evelyn from the truth. I think this partially plays into something that happens when they’re trying to survive. Before they’ve killed any of the children, Tom has come to the decision to keep himself, his wife and his unborn child alive; he’s going to kill any of them that get in his way. Evelyn does prevent this and it in turn gets them trapped. I like that we get to see that even this couple has a line where one of them still wasn’t ready to cross, since you can never go back. She also was shielded as I said, so she doesn’t necessarily know everything he does.
The last little thing here before I move on is the language barrier. We are in Spain. Tom can speak Spanish pretty fluently. Evelyn on the other hand knows really just some basics. I find this intriguing to bring up, because when things get tense, they both revert back to English and I can see why they don’t always get answers. As someone who has gone to Europe and really only knows how to read a bit of German, it is eerie feeling not being able to fully communicate with those around you, especially in a tense situation.
Going along with this would be the atmosphere. Seeing the empty village on the island was spooky to me and I think the soundtrack really helps to amplify that. Even before we get there, the movie has selected things and just lines used makes me feel there’s something off about Almanzora before they get there. I just felt uncomfortable, even when we don’t get to see things on the screen. It set the tone that things are off so when we see what the children are doing, it is just making it worse and my mind goes to darker places which is effective.
I’ll shift this over to the acting for the movie, which I’d say is pretty solid. We really have a two person cast of Fiander and Ransome. I think they do an excellent job here. They both seem like good people and they get caught in a terrible situation where they’re pushed to their limits. They need to decide how far they will go to survive. I also connect with them and I’m worried about what happens. I’d say the rest of the cast is good, especially with how creepy the children come off.
The last thing to go over would be the effects. I knew this was going to be an exploitation film coming in, but the effects are more subdued. We get blood that is a bit bright, but I always have a soft spot for that. Many of the things we see are done off screen. It was all done practical from what I could tell. The wild thing is seeing children killed on screen, which I have to give the movie credit for. The cinematography is well done in finding things though as well while still giving us enough to fill in the blanks.
Now with that said, this is a terrifying concept in my eyes. It really makes you question you’re morals and what you’d do in a situation like this. Being isolated in a foreign country like we are also adds to the suspense and the inability to get away easy. I think the acting does really well, the effects we get are good and the soundtrack was amazing if I’m going to be honest. I don’t even mind that the movie almost runs 2 hours, as I just wanted more if I’m going to be honest. I would say that this movie isn’t for everyone with what we get. I will also warn you that the version I saw was partially in English and the other in Spanish, so I had to watch with subtitles. If this sounds interesting, I’d recommend it. With that out of the way, I think this is great movie to be honest.
My Rating: 9 out of 10