The Children (2008)
By: Devon B. on May 11, 2012  | 
Icon | Region 4, PAL | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English Dolby Digital 5.1 | 84 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Tom Shankland
Starring: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley
Screenplay: Tom Shankland
Country: UK
External Links
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Killer children aren't a new concept in cinema by any means. Nor is the question of what would adults do when confronted with children that want murder them. Probably the best example of both ideas is Who Can Kill a Child?, a fantastic thriller from the 70s. I do think that film is let down by an unnecessary plot twist (maybe it was an influence on M. Night Shamalamadingdong?), but overall it paved the way for more kiddie carnage. This hasn't often been a good thing, but The Children does a decent job of re-presenting this situation and does offer a few new elements.

It's New Year's Eve and a family has gathered for the customary celebration, but one of the children has gotten sick during the journey. It's presumed to be car sickness, but then one of his cousins starts displaying symptoms and it's clear this is a virus working its way through the young'uns in the family. At first the illness just seems to cause ominous music to play in the background whenever the children do anything, but eventually the disease creates violent tendencies in the infected. This causes them to lash out at those that aren't sick, which in this case is everyone over the age of 10. Moral quandaries abound.

The Children captures the awkwardness of a family function very well – there's a lecherous uncle; inappropriate behaviour from a stepfather; tattle telling; children vomiting; and, the natural conclusion of any family get together: everyone wanting to kill each other. Despite the characters and family dynamics often seeming very genuine, the film doesn't generate a lot of empathy for the characters because the filmmakers forgot to include someone that was likeable. As the tensions mount and the children act out more, the usual question is posed to the viewer: What would you do? It's perhaps a bit harder to answer in this case because, given the situation is caused by a virus, it's unclear whether the children's immune systems will eventually kick in and they'll make a full recovery. This little embellishment helps differentiate The Children from other films of its ilk, and made it harder for me to figure out how I would act under the circumstances.

The film's editing is a little jarring at times, particularly in attack scenes which are meant to feel frantic but end up just confusing. Continuity also goes askew a few times, furthering the confusion of these scenes. However, the movie boasts some wonderfully wince inducing moments of violence that, while they won't shock a jaded gorehound, should jolt the unexpecting.

Overall The Children is a decent film that doesn't hold a lot of surprises but does a fair job of pulling everything together.
Bit of a mess, really. The print is a little too dark, but the main problem is that the image shudders frequently throughout the film and it's very annoying and distracting.
The audio is available in DTS 5.1 or 5.1 mixes. The 5.1 lacks the depth of the DTS, which is to be expected, but both tracks are plagued by inconsistent volume levels, which is to be condemned. The dialogue was often lost when the volume was down low enough that the action moments didn't rattle my windows. I got tired of constantly adjusting the volume and decided to just turn on the subtitles.
Extra Features
The trailer for D13 Ultimatum plays on start up.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I'd rate The Children as better than any of the Children of the Corn series and way better than Beware! Children at Play, but the DVD presentation leaves a lot to be desired. The movie's worth checking out, but fans will want to source a superior release.

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