The Children (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Horror / Thriller
Lions Gate || R - 85 minutes - $29.99 || October 6, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-10-15


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Tom Shankland
Writer(s): Tom Shankland (written by)
Cast: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley, Hannah Tointon


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 6 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Plot (from DVD back cover): A family anticipates a Christmas filled with sledding, laughter and hot cocoa as they head to their vacation home in the secluded backcountry. The holiday cheer takes a turn for the worse after a mysterious flu-like virus sweeps through the kids, and one by one the children become deadly.

The Children (a.k.a. “Kids Do the Darndest Things”) — which bears a close resemblance, at least in terms of essential plot, to Children of the Corn — is a movie with a slow (in all honesty, a tad boring) start, interesting second act and amazingly horrific third act.

At first, I thought the movie was on the cheesy side, even funny, when one of the kids begins his part of taking out one of the adults. It involved a sled going downhill and hitting one of the adults in the back of the legs, sending them into excruciating pain while the child looks on in faceless yet mild satisfaction. I don’t know, but something about seeing a murderous child just did not scare me... that is, until the end.

The final act, about the last 20-minutes or so, I must admit The Children was picking up steam as each kid begins to take out an adult in a simple but gruesome and realistic way. Although there is some blood and one sick (violent) scene, I actually appreciate the thriller aspects when you don’t know what to expect next from the kids. Of course, it doesn’t help that I have a natural distrust of kids anyway.

With a movie such as this, I don’t expect much from the cast so long as they can deliver their lines in a believable way, even in this extraordinary situation. The kids do a good job looking evil and like they want to torture and eventually kill you (there’s no reason or why, it just is) but I liked what seemed like the film’s central character amongst the ensemble, played by Hannah Tointon who is known in the UK for a couple soap operas including “Hollyoaks”.

The Children was directed and written by Tom Shankland who also helmed the underrated The Killing Gene (2007), starring Stellan Skarsgaard, which is one of my favorite semi-unknown torture-thrillers. Shankland does a pretty good job with this film even though the first 25-30 minutes are a tad too slow and doesn’t really build up much suspense before picking up pace.

I know there’s a lot of buzz on the Net for The Children and while I wasn’t completely enthralled with the film, I still enjoyed the hell out of the final act and will certainly revisit this indie and import horror film in the future (unlike other Ghost House Underground tagged releases).



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Making of The Children (19:34) – This is an informal behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was made with members of the cast and crew just chatting about various things. However, it is mainly just behind-the-scenes shots with some explanation about how certain scenes were shot.

There are also a few smaller featurettes:
Working with the Children (5:04) where The cast and crew gush at how great it was to work with the kids in the movie.

Shooting on Location (3:41) as the homeowners, along with the same members of the crew we heard from prior, give insight into how the home/land was selected to film on and why it was the perfect place.

Paul Hyett Talks Prosthetics (4:54) is self-explanatory as Hyett gives insight into the special make-up effects used.

Snow Set Design (6:31) is probably the most interesting just seeing how they created this snow set, all of it manufactured. We get to see the rigs used to make the snow and just how much of the landscape they needed to cover.

Inside Tom Shankland’s On Set Lair (8:21) has the director shows us around his little office chatting about some pictures.

All together there is 48 minutes worth of featurettes on this Blu-ray.

Finally, we get three ordinary deleted scenes (5:41), the trailer (1:31) and the Ghost House Micro Videos.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The Children is presented with a 1.85 aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition. My initial thought on the picture is it’s good, but not great and not up to the standards expected from a Blu-ray release. However, the picture is nicely detailed at times with good coloring. There are parts that show some pixilation especially when looking at darker skies and from the onset I could see issues with banding (during the Vertigo Films intro).

The DTS-HD Mast Audio 5.1 track sounds good but until the end, you really don’t have a whole lot to judge on. Every channel does get some usage especially with the score and dialogue sounds as it should when considering the settings (outdoor is a little muffled while inside is a bit clearer. Now, the end is where you get a ton of audio from all sides as the film reaches its thrilling crescendo.



.::OVERALL::.

Although I can’t quite agree with some of the hype surrounding this film – mainly since the first 25-30 minutes were quite dull – the rest of the film is effective and indeed very thrilling and scary. For that reason alone, I do give this a minor recommendation.