- Director: Roxanne Benjamin
- Writers: T.J. Cimfel, Dave White
- Stars: Alisha Wainwright, Zach Gilford, Amanda Crew, Carlos Santos, Briella Guiza, David Mattle
There’s Something Wrong With The Children works under the conceit the kids are terrifying and let’s be honest, they are. Just hopefully not like the kids in this film.
Ben and Margaret are holidaying with Ellie and Thomas, and their two kids, Lucy and Spencer. After going on an early morning hike, all six of them discover some underground ruins. At the end of the ruins, there is a gigantic hole that seems to be bottomless. The kids seem to go into a trance when near the hole, and both suffer nose bleeds. The kids stay in Ben and Margaret’s cabin that night, so their parents can have sexy time, but in the morning the kids are missing. Ben goes looking for the kids at the ruins and swears he saw the kids jump to their deaths. The only thing is when Ben comes back, the kids are fine and back at the cabins… but there’s something wrong with the children.
The film plays a well-worn trope of the guy with past mental health issues, being the only one that knows the truth. Although in this film, it is combined with the parents naturally protecting their child from a guy who has gone a bit crazy. It works, but because we, the audience, are privy to information that they are not, it becomes a little bit redundant. There is a fair amount of build-up before things really kick-off, but from that moment it is non-stop until the last frame.
The acting is good, with the ensemble of adults having a very natural way about them, but still giving each character a distinct personality. The kids (Guiza & Mattle) are excellent, especially in the 2nd act, when they are toying with Ben. Roxanne Benjamin lets the action flow naturally, but the camera embellishments deep into the 3rd act are really great and my only real quibble is that there should’ve been more of this. Two standout moments for me, the first was a scene in a bedroom that has a fantastic jump scare and the second is an excellent shadow play moment, that I won’t go into detail for spoiler reasons, but it was a very inventive way of showing a little bit more and then making the audience fill in the blanks with their imagination. The script is fine, but it does have a few pacing issues in the back half of the film, it ramps up and speeds to the finale, yet it still feels about ten minutes too long.
A fun film that doesn’t break any new ground, but it is entertaining. You’ll probably be wary of children for a few days after as well.
There’s Something Wrong With The Children is available January 17 on Digital and On Demand. On MGM+ March 17, 2023.
Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78