THE CHILDREN. 2008. DIRECTED BY TOM SHANKLAND. STARRING EVA BIRTHISTLE, STEPHEN CAMPBELL MOORE, RACHEL SHELLEY, JEREMY SHEFFIELD AND HANNAH TOINTON. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Strict Auntie Beeb (or the BBC, to the uninitiated) issued a warning before she showed this British horror film late on a Friday night. This film contains scenes that some people may find distressing, she said sternly. Ooooh, Auntie Beeb, you are strict! Do you give painful hairbrush spankings at bedtime as well? If so, I bagsy the first one, haha. Many a true word is spoken in jest, you know…
I really enjoyed this film. I was glued to it the whole way through. It’s basically the story of one posh, well-to-do English family visiting another posh, well-to-do English family in their fabulous country house so that they can all celebrate the New Year together. While they’re all holed up in the snow miles from anywhere, the titular children become strangely infected with some kind of virus or bacteria- we don’t really know which it is, or how they contracted it- and they gang up on the adults, terrifying them with their murderous rampage.
The parents are both hilarious and unbelievably irritating. You know the sort. Giving their kids posh names like Miranda darling and Leah sweetie, teaching them Mandarin Chinese before they’ve even mastered English and breast-feeding them till they’re old enough to go to college. Well, probably, anyway.
Do I sound bitter? If I do, it’s because I didn’t have this kind of silver-spoon-up-the-ass upbringing myself and I’ve been resentful about it my whole life, there, I’ve said it. Better add a haha so people will think I’m joking. Haha…!
Anyway, posh Elaine (naturally, she’s nicknamed Lainey), posh Jonah, posh Chloe and posh Robbie get a flippin’ rude awakening when their precious little kiddy-winks start impaling them on garden rakes, stabbing them in the eye and ripping their ears off. Yep, that’s what they do, the mischievous little darlings, and all with some kind of shining thing going on with each other. It would take the combined powers of Mrs. Doubtfire, Mary Poppins and Jo Frost’s SuperNanny to put manners on ’em now…
Ex-GLENROE actress Eva Birthistle is excellent as perhaps the least objectionable of the rich, snobby poshos. GLENROE, by the way, was a hugely successful Irish rural soap that ended in the ‘Nineties. I think Ms. Birthistle played- you guessed it- a slightly younger rich, snobby posho…!
She wasn’t involved in the legendary soap’s most famous ever scenes, though, the ones in which ruddy-cheeked young Fidelma romped scandalously in the hay with Miley behind Biddy’s back up on the farm. I used to meet Mick Lally, who played Miley, in my local supermarket many times before he passed away and I always wanted to ask him just what had possessed him to risk his marriage for a quick ride off a young one who was much hotter than his ageing wife. Puzzling, isn’t it, why a man would do that…?
Anyway, Eva Birthistle’s on-screen daughter in THE CHILDREN, Casey, is played by Hannah Tointon, the younger sister of beautiful ex-EASTENDERS actress Kara Tointon, who also won the coveted glitterball trophy in STRICTLY COME DANCING a few years ago. Hannah is the image of her sister. She plays a bored, rebellious teenager who is presumably too old to be infected by the virus that’s got all the younger rugrats in its grip. She’s also the first one to cotton on to the fact that the kids are all evil now and are responsible for the terrible things happening to their respective Paters and Maters. (See how I ‘poshed’ up Mums and Dads…?)
The bare trees and snowy woods are absolutely gorgeous. I spent much of the film ooh-ing and aah-ing over them. Poor Uncle Robbie probably cops it the hardest from the child-monsters. His fate is particularly gruesome, as is Auntie Chloe’s, so watch out for both those scenes if you’re not too squeamish.
The ending is positively creepy and it has a terrific twist that you most likely won’t see coming. This film overall was a great watch. Though I was never really scared at any time (they’re kids, for Christs’ sake!), I wasn’t bored either. Quite the opposite, in fact. Things aren’t wrapped up in a nice neat bow at the end but sometimes they don’t need to be. End of story…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY