FantasticFest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and action movies from all around the world. Here's a list of some of our favorite movies at FantasticFest.
Lucas and Clementine live peacefully in their isolated country house, but one night they wake up to strange noise... they're not alone... and a group of hooded assailants begin to terrorize them throughout the night.
The tale of a murderer (Allen) who uses the cover of Halloween night to causally transport his latest victim from the scene of the crime to his final resting place. Wrapping the body in ... See full summary »
A group of high-schoolers invite Mandy Lane, a good girl who became quite hot over the summer, to a weekend party on a secluded ranch. While the festivities rage on, the number of revelers begins to drop quite mysteriously.
Elaine and Jonah and their teenage daughter and young son, come to spend New Year with her sister Chloe and husband Robbie and their three young children at their isolated country home. One by one the children, after apparently being sick, become increasingly malevolent. Written by
don @ minifie-1
The premise of this movie is indeed real, primal horror. During the holidays, a family reunion turns into a madness when children become increasingly disturbed, due to what looks like a mysterious illness.
"Creepy kids" have been done a number of times in cinema but what separates this latest entry from many that came before it is the feeling that these kids are still kids. Certainly disturbed and not totally themselves but not entirely evil. Cruel but not zombies, mind controlled or aliens. There is still fear and fragility, which makes them a lot scarier for viewers, especially parents.
Adding to the horror is that when the parents stand up for themselves against the kids, these acts of resistance are "unsatisfying" to us, unlike other movies of the genre. That is, you do remain conflicted as a viewer instead of the typical Hollywood trash. And *that* is what horror is about.
The story is good, well-paced with a suitably tensed escalation of the menace the children represent. The characters coping with this threat (a group of adults and a teenager) are believable instead of walking clichés.
On the downside, the movie has a definite low-budget feel to it. I was surprised that Tom Shankland would direct something like this after his previous work, the polished horror/thriller Waz. A low budget plus a lot of kid actors mean that corners were cut. The film would certainly have benefited from more takes. A lot more takes, in fact. The adult actors are underwhelming and the script could have used another pass or two to make it more compelling from start to end. There are still two or three very memorable sequences in the movie, such as the one following the first body's disappearance. But overall I think Shankland will cringe at a lot of scenes here. For instance, one character spends some great deal of time with a serious injury but the result on camera is completely unbelievable.
So what we are left with is an indie movie with a lot of heart and that does a lot of things well. It is extremely courageous in its treatment. It offers something good and refreshing. And it could have been a masterpiece with slightly more budget. I'm giving this a well-deserved 6.
As a complement to this film and to see the "other side of the coin", I strongly suggest watching Lars E. Jacobson's "Baby Blues" immediately before or after "The Children".
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