Wednesday, August 19, 2009

weans world.

Ah dear old Blighty, land of warm beer, tea, toast and cricket.

And, once upon a time, a place that gave the world some pretty decent horror movies.

Well not any more it seems.

Ladies (I'm assuming at least one reads this) and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for one of the most annoyingly banal (and oh so slightly offensive - but more on that later) films ever made.

I give you....

The Children (2008).
Dir: Tom Shankland.
Cast: Eva Birthistle, Eva Sayer, Jake Hathaway, Jeremy Sheffield, Raffiella Brooks, Stephen Campbell Moore, William Howes, Rachel Shelley and Hannah Tointon.

Where? for lunch?

Smug middle class couple Elaine (square jawed Brit teevee stalwart Birthistle) , her pube bearded rat-like hubbie Jonah (Moore from Ashes To Ashes) and their (fresh out of stage school) children have just arrived at the huge country house owned by Elaine's even more (if that were possible) smug and middle class sister, the spiral permed baggy cardied Chloe (The 'L' Word's Shelley) and her instantly punchable brother-in-law Robbie (chisel of face and flaxen of hair ex Holby City star Sheffield) in order to celebrate New Year together.

But even as they unpack their luggage you can feel the tension in the air between the couples, from Elaine and Jonah obvious resent at not being as annoyingly self centred (or kickable) as Chloe and Robbie, to Elaine's oldest daughter, the Emo-lite Casey (Eve Myles alike Tointon, from the nations favourite Hollyoaks) bitching about having to be there in the first place, slagging off her wee sister Miranda (demon spawn Sayer from Eastenders) and blatantly (and slightly embarrassingly) flirting with 'uncle' Robbie you can tell it's going to be a long weekend.

But surely nothing else could happen to make things any worse could it?

Casey: Niece and easy does it.

Enter Elaine's Autistic son Paulie (Howes) who has no sooner gotten out of the car before he's vomiting melted cheese over the lawn and scaring Chloe's daughter Leah (Brooks) by sitting upright in his bed whilst staring into the middle distance and constantly banging a xylophone.

Because, as we all know that's what Autistic kids do obviously.

I must just point out (jusy in case director Shankland is even now foaming at the mouth as he types a reply) that nowhere in the script is Paulie actually referred to as Autistic, but there's quite a subtle (I'm being ironic) scene when he's brushing his teeth where Chloe asks Elaine if she's "received that article about the MMR jags I sent you?".

The one about AIDS being a gay plague must of gotten lost in the post.

In her defence (well, we all know she'll be dead soon anyway - if we're lucky) Chloe's one of those loud and annoying parents that are far too rich to work and boast about home tutoring their kids, lest they pick up any nasty germs off the commoners. "They're like sponges at this age," she declares, tho' from the looks Robbie has been giving Casey I reckon he's thinking about that phrase in a whole other light.

Dirty old sod.

Elaine, trying to keep everyone happy reckons it's just travel sickness and starts to tank into the wine and fags like nobodies business. The kids are sent to bed and nice uncle Robbie takes Casey into the woods to show her the best place to get a signal om her mobile phone.

Anyone hoping for a wee bit of bare arsed sleazy old man and schoolie goth action at this point will be sorely disappointed seeing as he actually is just showing her the best place to get a signal.


"I knew I shouldn't have shampooed
the dog whilst pregnant!"

It comes a no surprise to find that it isn't car-sickness that's affecting Paulie at all but a vomit/airbourne/utter bollocks Autism virus (obviously) that quickly spreads from child to child with alarming speed.

Soon Chloe's kids Leah and Nicky (the freaky Hathaway, who looks for all the world like a dwarf Robin Askwith) are sitting at the dinner table copying Paulie's every move whilst Miranda goes crazy apeshit and slashes Jonah's arm with a bread knife.

Pity it wasn't his throat.

Between the kids screaming, Paulie's xylophone tinkling, Elaine discovering that Casey has a (admittedly tasteful) tattoo of an abortion on her tummy and Jonah whimpering about his sore arm Chloe decides to skip dessert and sends Robbie and the children out to play so she can lord it over her sister.

Keeping his head down, Jonah takes the still nutty Miranda up to her room to calm her with a wee bit of Mandarin (the language not the fruit).

"Cor blimey! if I'm caught with me
trousers down again the boss'll kill me!"

Just as you're about to give up hope of anything remotely interesting happening the killing finally start.

And from there on in it's the same middle class bleating and whining as in the first half of the movie but now with sporadic bursts of violence as the children (hey! that's the films title! clever eh?) embark on an anarchistic Autistic killer rampage....

Will any of the adults survive?

And, if we're honest, does anyone (except the directors mum) really give a fuck?

If anyone in this movie
deserves a mooth shite-in...

Where do you start with a film as painfully awful, criminally lazy and downright annoying as The Children?

Well, you can begin with Shankland's press junket quote about how, although a horror film at heart it deals with 'the sort of problems that affect every family' if you want a laugh.

Yup, most families I know are mainly worried about investing in Chinese medicines whilst smoking hash in their giant greenhouses in the grounds of their huge mansions.

Oh and the ones I do know affected by Autism (well, the intelligent ones) would hit the roof if any started on about the old MMR lie, especially if it were a sibling or someone close.

Reviewers that have mentioned the films use of Autism has pointed out (as I did myself earlier) that it's never expressly stated that Paulie is indeed on the Spectrum and it shouldn't matter if he is or not.

If that's the case then why bother at all? Wouldn't it be better to just have him Neuro Typical rather than a sketchy, Daily Mail caricature of someone with ASD?

Rant over and back to the film in general.

Watch out watch out John Leslie's about!

The biggest problem tho' is beneath the God awful plotting, piss poor acting and choppy editing there appears to be a not too bad idea for a movie desperately trying to claw it's way out. The photography is top notch, making the best of the cold harshness of the winter landscapes and the minimalist score is perfect.

Just a pity the rest of it is so arse clenchingly abysmal, showing once and for all that the glory days of Frightmare, The Wicker Man and their ilk are far behind us. Hopefully one day we'll be able to produce a British horror movie to make us proud once more (cos let's be honest, we can't keep relying on Neil Marshall to keep the torch burning, we'll end up working him to death before he's 50).

But whilst shite like this is getting greenlit I doubt it somehow, I'm surprised that Pete Walker isn't spinning in his grave.

And he's not even dead.

But if he does kick the bucket over the next few months we all know who to blame.

No comments: