The plot of UK horror movie The Children
is simple enough to summarise: two middle class couples decide to
spend a peaceful, family-oriented New Year’s Eve in the wintry English
countryside. Along for the ride are one couple’s teenage daughter, and
five assorted tykes of varying size. As the weekend progresses,
however, it quickly becomes apparent that a mysterious illness has
stricken the youngsters. The symptoms? Bouts of distemper, followed by
an overwhelming desire to stab and maim any adult within sight.
Director Tom Shankland’s previous feature
WAZ borrowed liberally from its forbears such as Saw and
Se7en, and The Children likewise wears its horror movie
influences on its sleeve. Channelling The Omen and Children
of the Corn amongst others, Shankland’s latest feature by no means
surpasses its source material in terms of either execution or straight
scares, but is nonetheless a taut and stylishly executed affair.
Eschewing a big-name international cast in
favour of homegrown talent such as The L Word’s Rachel
Shelley and Holby City’s Jeremy Sheffield, Shankland has
succeeded in creating a decidedly unnerving picture that by its
dénouement has built the palpable sense of unease to a crescendo,
matched in every sense by Stephen Hilton’s effective (if at times
slightly generic ) Carpenter-esque score. But be warned! Those with
ankle biters of their own will likely be reaching for the Ritalin and
making enquiries at the nearest military academy by film’s end.
Audio & Video
The Children was shot in digital and
the transfer is pristine, with brilliant clarity and contrast that even
on a standard DVD player more closely resembles BD picture quality.
Both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtracks are included, and
these are likewise crisp and eminently impressive. The disc includes
Unfortunately the Region 4 release is a
bare-bones affair with no special features on offer. Those with more
than a passing interest might be inclined to check out the British DVD
release, which can currently be picked up for a song and includes an
audio commentary, Making Of, cast auditions and BTS footage. The Region
1 edition is also chock-full of bonus content.