Thursday, November 10, 2011

Won't Someone Please Think Of The Children!

There's nothing worse than disliking a kid. You feel like a jerk. But sometimes, kids are jerks. Bigger jerks than us even. Which is where the sadistic genius of Tom Shankland's The Children (2008) comes into play. The Children works on the most base promise of bad people get punished. Unfortunately, in this case, the bad people think very highly of themselves. 

Two young families come together to celebrate the Holidays in the-middle-of-nowhere-England. Elaine's family (comprised of her husband Jonah, her "mistake" teenage daughter Cassey and two young children from her new marriage) make their way to her sister's secluded and opulent country home. Frankly, the place looks like an estate where Kate Moss could host a wedding but let's face it, some families are just richer than others. Chloe, Robbie and their two children are just that, overly rich, luxuriating in the posibility of home schooling their children and generally taking it easy. They are the poster parents that you secretly want to be but you still despise.

When one of Elaine and Robbie's children takes ill, begins acting strangely and generally frightens the other children, no one notices. Soon the other children become "infected" with the families noticing little except for British Avril Lavigne aka Cassey. She's our Final Girl and has interesting conundrum of balancing partying and saving her family from homicidal tots.

The Children, which borrows from The Village Of The Damned and The Omen, bravely forces the blame on the parents and their lack of foresight. The odd British passive aggressive violence that carries the first half of the film is done away with to fill it up with Grand Guignol-esque violence - unrepentant, grotesque and absurdly funny. The shocks come sharply and effectively. The film has a good sense of what it's saying without hitting you over the head with how awful these people are, they are simply products of a certain way of living. Only when one parent looses their partner do they actively search out their children as she has developed parenting techniques to keep them away from her. The Children exemplifies a selfish form of parenting where the parents see the children as reflections of themselves and because of that short sightedness, they fail to see when an object is going to penetrate their skull.


  1. While I took grim pleasure in seeing the yuppies get offed by their own children, I didn't read the film as a critique of selfish parenting.

    The film seemed to me to take a pretty non-judgmental view of the families, exposing them as flawed, but not bad people. As for their lives of luxury, I don't think that element was included to intentionally make people hate them. It just sets them up for a bigger fall if they have seemingly perfect lives.

    Maybe I'll have to take a second look and see if I can pick up on what you're saying.

  2. Nice review as always! That's a pretty interesting concept. Im going to add it to my lengthy, movies I'm gonna watch list.

  3. I see the selfishness (possibly coming out of having taught children for a few years) of the parents having indicators of something being off with their kids and ignoring them in favor of drinking with each other... But even without that layer, the film is still brutal and fun.