Saturday, October 5, 2013

Come Out and Play

In this chilling adaptation of the beloved Offspring song, we see the horror of gang violence on the streets of.... wait, no, that's not right. This is the 2nd adaptation of the novel El juego de los ninos, filmed previously in the 70's as Who Can Kill a Child? (unfortunately not yet the concept for what would be the best game show ever). An American couple vacation in Spain take a motorboat out to a small island village, only to find that all the adults seem to be missing, and the children are acting very bizarrely...

I saw Who Can Kill a Child? several years ago, and although my memory has grown vague, my recollection is that I was not a fan. It was overlong and lacking in atmosphere, with waaaaaaay too slow of a build up to the premise that you already understood before you started the movie (killer kids). Come Out and Play is a better film, but it almost has the opposite problem. It's a half an hour shorter and does a much better job of delivering a spooky and atmospheric slow build up, but it kind of blows it when the action starts in the 2nd half. Director Makinov (yes, just one name) has a good eye for framing, the right sense of pace and gets strong performances from his actors (especially the long underappreciated, radiant Vinessa Shaw), but does not know how to stage an action sequence or maintain energy. After a strong build the movie slowly fizzles out and meanders, with way too much hand wringing before our protagonists finally answer the question the 70's film poses (the husband can, when pushed). By the time they finally fight back against the kids instead of running and hiding, the energy is gone and seeing the wholesale slaughter of children is neither horrifying nor funny. And then it ends on the most painfully obvious "ironic" note possible.

There is one pretty good idea during the disappointing final act. It is pretty creepy and disturbing when SPOILER Shaw is killed from the inside by her own unborn child. What a fucking way to go.

I love killer kid movies (because I hate children), but they all suffer the same problem: children are neither scary nor a credible physical threat. Yes, some of these kids brandish knives (and, eventually, a gun), but most of the time I was wondering why the husband wasn't just punching them in the throat or running them over with the car they found. Stop being so tentative about this, dude, these kids are killers. People are such pussies when it comes to children.

Still, a strong opening and good performances throughout keep this one from sinking, and I'm glad I watched it.

Rating: B-

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