Children, TheVertigo Pictures / Ghosthouse Films

“Bye-bye Mummy. Be nice to Leah and Nicky.”

A family anticipates a Christmas filled with sledding, laughter and hot cocoa as they head to their vacation home in the secluded back country. The holiday cheer takes a fast turn for the worst after a mysterious flu-like virus sweeps through the kids. One by one the children become deadly. Amidst the suspicion, mayhem and murder, the parents must fight for survival against their own twisted offspring…

Ye gads, but this movie was rather tough to sit through. And not for the regular reasons why I can’t sit through general horror movies, either. See, I have this thing about violence perpetrated both against and by children. Even in the purpose of story telling, something like that makes me rather uncomfortable. Squirmy. And The Children hits both of ’em with a near-perfect blend of uncomfortable creepiness. I’d say, if the angle of possessed killer dolls were introduced, my personal Unholy Tri-fecta of Terror would have been unleashed, reducing me to a blubbering mess curled up in the fetal position for at least several hours, there.

See, this is a rare film, one that Hollywood hasn’t been able to do for over a decade now, and no doubt would ruin it with an inevitable American remake. The story is the standard “kids go crazy and begin doing bad things” plot, but the way it’s shot brings about an almost suffocating feeling of dread and claustrophobic terror. The actors were all fantastic, especially the child actors who almost seamlessly could shift from sweet innocence to creepy sinister at a moment’s notice. It’s hard to find young child actors who can do that convincingly. The film also takes that build-em-up-slowly route in the first half of the movie to make the second part of the film even more of a twisted roller coaster ride. And while a lot of the violence and gore is kept down to a minimum, it was the imagination that filled in a lot of stuff, which just amplified my experience.

The Children isn’t a fun horror ride. It’s a disturbing, chilling, and downright freaky example of doing a heck of a lot with very little.