Two annoying middle class families go to spend Christmas together in a beautiful old house, with gorgeous snow-covered lawns. While the parents sit around drinking Chardonnay and talking about home schooling and alternative therapies, the children start to show signs of being slightly unwell. Before long they are behaving out of character, and unpleasant accidents begin happening.
I wasn't expecting to be impressed by this film. Horror movies featuring children don't normally scare me. But this one proved to be the exception. Using fast cutting and some clever editing - and finding child actors with piercing screams who can give a convincing sinister stare - The Children turned out to be a surprisingly tense chiller.
The role reversal idea is done well. The adults become the vulnerable ones - trapped by their refusal to believe their children could be anything other than good, and their inability to kill their own offspring even when their life is in danger from them. The action took place almost entirely in the daytime, which is also a reversal of the traditional horror film scenario. And bright, primary colours were evident in many scenes (presumably to reflect a child-like point of view) in favour of the usual dark tones.
I was also surprised at how brutal and gory the film was at times. These children do some truly wince-inducing things to their parents! And the gore effects are very good indeed.
Whether it was because of, or despite, my initial low expections, I actually thought The Children was a pretty effective horror thriller. The idea of cute little kiddies as a deadly threat is not a new one, but I thought it was handled particularly well in this. Well worth a watch. 4/5