The Bottom Line
Murderous children are a pretty sure bet when it comes to horror films, and proves no exception. This nastily efficient remake of the little-known 1976 Spanish cult item doesn’t exactly break any new cinematic ground, but should prove rewarding to genre fans, especially at midnight screenings and on VOD.
This near-solo effort–directed, written, produced, photographed and edited by the Belarus-born filmmaker who bills himself only as Makinov—concerns a young American couple, Francis (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and his heavily pregnant wife Beth (Vinessa Shaw), who are vacationing in a remote area of Mexico. Let’s just say that the film won’t exactly prove endearing to that country’s tourist bureau.
The couple decides to rent a boat to visit an even more secluded island locale, and it’s shortly after they arrive that all hell breaks loose. At first they encounter wandering packs of young children, all of whom display the sullen, angry expressions of an adolescent denied a Happy Meal. Otherwise, the village is mysteriously abandoned, with grown-ups seemingly nowhere in sight.
After witnessing the brutal murder of an old man that culminates with a little girl dropping a large rock on his face, they soon figure out that virtually all of the adult residents have been killed, for unknown reasons that remain mysteriously unexplained. A deadly cat-and-mouse game ensues, as Francis desperately fends off the murderous tykes while attempting to escort his wife back to their boat.
The director slowly ratchets up the tension in effective fashion, with such scenes as a silent young girl taking it upon herself to plant her head on Beth’s swollen belly proving quietly spooky. Later, when Francis goes into full-on Rambo mode, the spectacle of him savagely repelling the attacks with frequently fatal results will prove deeply satisfying to anyone who’s ever barely repressed the urge to kick a bratty child.
It’s all pretty formulaic stuff, including the requisite dark twist ending, but it’s rendered with enough directorial finesse to propel it along in satisfying fashion. will not erase memories of such previous similarly themed genre classics as or David Cronenberg’s , among others, but it delivers enough nasty B-movie thrills to make it worthy of attention. Now, if there was only some explanation for its final onscreen dedication, “To the martyrs of Stalingrad.”