Director: Tom Shankland (2008)
Starring: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Hannah Tointon.
Twatty Parents vs Malevolent Brats (or Eden Lake: The Toddler Years) pits a bunch of hippy liberal types against their own children when the wee toddlers become infected with some unknown virus. Could You Kill a Child? If it was as evil as the brats in The Children, then yes. During a winter break, two families enjoy a bourgeois get-together; simpering about business plans, bragging about their equally knobbish kids and unveiling twee plans to start home education. It's little wonder that the children should decide to start violently murdering their parents. And with not a copy of Grand Theft Auto around for the Daily Mail to blame, either.
As you might expect from such subject matter, The Children is horrible. Those with little tolerance for violence towards children in movies would do well to avoid this movie, since few punches are pulled (the shots don't linger, and a fair bit is implied, but director Tom Shankland in no way shies away from having his children violently killed). That said, the adults definitely get the raw end of the deal here. There's eyeball trauma, a multitude of stabbings/bludgeonings and a veritable bathtub of the red stuff spilled here. It's realistic, disturbing violence and is genuinely shocking whenever it happens (usually in short, sharp bursts).
It has a fairly interesting subtext too, which is nice. It's good to see a horror flick with a subtext that extends beyond "TORTURE. PHOAR LOOK." Okay, it's nothing incredibly deep, but it's still a thought provoker. Who's to blame? Well, probably the hippy parents. If only they'd brought a Nintendo Wii, all the bloodshed could probably have been avoided. There's a scene where one of the parents rather harshly beats his son on the arse. Does violence beget violence? Someone's not been watching Supernanny. A wee spell on the Naughty Step coulda' sorted the whole sorry affair out pronto.
The acting is excellent, even by the children. I was particularly impressed by relative newcomer Hannah Tointon (a Hollyoaks cast member, of all things), who plays a moody teenage type. She's adorably cute (it's okay, she's 22: I checked) and less annoying than her character could've so easily been. Talking of annoying: the parents pretty much all deserve to die. Particularly grating are the hippy would-be homeschoolers. I was home educated, but the homeschoolers in The Children made me want to join forces with Ed Balls and ban the practice altogether. So the parents are dickish, but that's the point. And the actors do it well. Plus they get what's coming to them (and then some). So it's a fair trade-off.
In all, The Children is a sharp, shocking little Brit horror that perfectly suits the child hater in all of us. This movie is a great advertisement for contraceptives.