The Children is a British horror film that was directed by Tom Shankland, it released in 2008. Set just after Christmas, two families gather to celebrate the New Year at a secluded house. However, the relaxing vacation soon turns into a nightmare when the children develop murderous tendencies.
Casey, a rebellious teenage girl, is travelling with her mother Elaine, her stepfather Jonah, and her two younger half-siblings, Miranda and Paulie. They are on their way to spend the New Year holiday at the country home of Elaine’s sister, Chloe. Chloe, her husband Robbie, and their two young children, Nicky and Leah, welcome their visitors. Shortly after arriving, Paulie steps near some bushes and begins vomiting, which the adults believe is due to travel sickness or just some random bug as is usual for kids to catch.
As the night progresses, Nicky and Leah also begin to show symptoms of an illness. After a few days, all of the children have become seemingly pale and infected. Casey has made contact with her friend who plans to take her to a party as a way of escape. At one point Jonah is discussing viruses with Robbie, and Miranda is whining because she feels poorly. Paulie shoves a sled downhill that hits Chloe, grazing her.
Afterwards, Miranda has a violent outburst during dinner. Robbie takes the rest of the children outside to play in the snow. As Robbie is sledding downhill, Nicky places a garden rake in the sled’s path, which slices open Robbie’s head on impact. Elaine phones an ambulance but Robbie bleeds out in the snow before they can arrive.
Check out The Children to find out what happens next.
The Children is a really fun horror film to watch on a cold day in winter. Is there a better backdrop for horror than the isolation that snow provides?
If you’re going to cast so many child actors in your film and make them the primary antagonists, you better make sure they can act. Thankfully, the ones here are impressive. They don’t really do that much which is for the best. Still, these kids manage to be a convincing, menacing force.
In fact, everybody involved does a good job. The characters feel realistic in terms of the things they say and do. Sure, they do make plenty of questionable decisions but it’s understandable. The whole thing develops so erratically, they often have little time to think. The whole film has a real feel to it, right down to the UK emergency services being crippled due to some snow.
The Children will likely reaffirm the choice for those that never want children. I mean, they might band together and become murderous psychopaths. However, it’s more interesting for those that do have kids. It makes you wonder what you might be willing to do to survive in such a scenario. The emotional turmoil of the characters is relatable.
Children are the perfect vessels for any kind of evil force to inhabit. Human beings find it difficult to suspect them of any wrong doing. Naturally, they hold a tremendous amount of emotional value. Even when it is clear that the children are homicidal, it’s difficult for certain characters to harm them.
The Children has plenty of good looking gore on display. It doesn’t shy away from showing some nasty looking stuff. In fact, some of it involves children which is quite ballsy. It’s not often you see children getting impaled or crushed by vehicles.
I liked the ending, it has just enough ambiguity and leaves you with some compelling questions.
Overall, The Children is very underrated and deserves more recognition.