Sunday, June 18, 2023


So I did a little free trial on YouTube for Shudder, and as I was browsing the titles they had available I saw a film titled Skinamarink. I thought the premise sounded really interesting, I wanted to watch it as soon as I read the simple description of, “Two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished.”

That’s something that would be terribly frightening and strange, especially for a child, who are the main characters of the film.

The film is from 2022 and is directed by Kyle Edward Ball–his first feature film. It takes place in 1995, within a house that is inhabited by two children and possibly their parents, who seem to go suddenly missing, and they aren’t the only thing to go missing.

Things in the house start vanishing and the physics and logistics of the house and its objects begin to go topsy-turvy. Any details besides this are vague from the beginning of the film and, perhaps, for the remainder…

The rest of my review will encompass the film as a whole, so if you want to go in spoiler-free, stop reading now and go check it out for yourself!

The movie is stylized with a very dark, vignetted exposure and a very heavy VHS filter overlay. The VHS quality mimicry might make sense if this were a found footage film, but it isn’t found footage, so why the grainy filter? This types of filter has become exceedingly popular in media, to the point where it has crossed the line into trendy. It’s meant to invoke nostalgia and create a sense that what you are watching comes from a VHS camera, as is authentic to the time period in which the narrative takes place. You know how you can achieve the most authentic VHS film quality? You could just shoot your movie on film!Of course, just putting a filter on is more accessible to those on a budget and without having to gather the resources to shoot and edit on tape. I, too, prefer a little more grit and a little less of the overly polished, high production filters on a film, but this is a bit much. The filter is WAY too heavy and exaggerated.

Additionally, there are LOTS of still shots, and very few wide shots–most are close-ups. The whole time you are either looking at either the ceiling, the floor, a wall, or a sliver of a hallway or stairway, or just grainy darkness. Characters are not really shown on screen, at least not directly and never a full-body shot. There’s very little dialogue and what does exist is in hushed voices and short sentences. There’s no score; all sound effects are ambient, occurring in the background.

I see what they are going for; it’s definitely an abstract style they’ve opted for, and perhaps they did so with the intention of making their audience work for the story without showing it head-on. For me, I think it would have worked as a short film, but for an entire movie, I need a bit more.

Everything was very minimalist–the shots, the dialogue, the sound effects–and for me it was just too much so and I, personally, found it a bit annoying.

I’m not saying a fim has to be a certain way, that movies have to follow rules and conventions. I appreciate the approach they took and I can see the creativity that came from the mind of the filmmaker. Do I need to see the eyes of the character to know that they are looking at something? No, I can glean that from just seeing their feet; but would I like to see the eyes, torso, arms and head of a character occasionally? Yes, I would. I’m not saying characters need to have drawn out monologues, but I did desire a bit more than one word whispers. To me, it just felt like the movie was composed entirely of b-roll, I needed a little more a-roll to be engaged.

I was drawn in the by uncanny concept of the film, of the doors and windows vanishing but I found that it didn’t really expand much beyond the initial vagueness that intrigued me. I was hoping it would start vague and build into a bigger story, but it was generally the same tone throughout, kind of a steady (if not flat) heart rate, with maybe one or two spikes of tension and excitement, some attributed to a jumpscare triggered by an abrupt loud noise.

Maybe I’m being a bit grumpy and nitpicky and being too harsh on Skinamarink. I’m sure not everyone will feel this way about this film; in fact, I’m sure it could potentially cater to a whole audience and a particular generation because of its film style.

It’s not lost on me that Skinmarink is definitely trying to evoke the look, feel, and tone (both visually and narratively) of popular short films and videos on YouTube such as “The Backrooms” and the “Mandela Catalogue”. If you aren’t familiar with these videos, they fall into a relatively new subgenre called analog horror, which is a found footage offshoot that “is commonly characterized by low-fidelity graphics, cryptic messages, and visual styles reminiscent of late 20th-century television and analog recordings.” (“Analog horror”, Wikipedia).

This has become the chosen and established style of horror for Gen Z, and in the examples I listed previously, it works very well–I’m particularly a big fan of the Backrooms video series. However, both of those examples are relatively short. Not as short form as a bite-sized TikTok, and nowhere near as long as an actual film, more around fifteen minutes or less.

So, simply because this film is done in the analog horror style (minus the found footage), it could prove to be very creepy, effective, and even inspirational for fans of this genre.

Besides stylistically, this film aIso employs themes recurrent in analog horror and another concept that is very popular recently, known as liminal spaces. The imagery associated with liminal spaces is heavily employed in Skinamarink–there are many shots of doorways, hallways, and stairways. And, of course, the premise of the movie involves the doors and windows. In the current wave of liminal spaces and liminal horror, the passage from childhood to adulthood is heavily focused on, and, in particular, being stuck in the space between the stages of life and the preservation of the comfort and nostalgia of youth. The film stars two children and there are many visuals of toys splayed about the ground; legos, teddy bears, old Fisher Price telephones. The tv is constantly playing old cartoons, and their tinny soundtrack can be heard reverberating softly in the background. The title of the movie is a reference to an old preschool sing-a-long song, so there are many visual and audio themes of childhood. The disappearance of the doors and windows in the house, trapping the children inside, could symbolize their inability or unwillingness to pass through into adulthood.

I made a video on my YouTube channel where I go into the origins and explanation of liminal space and examine this current trend. If you are interested, check it out here: 

Like I said, I am a fan of analog horror and liminal space media and the inspirational sources that I believe this film draws from. However, I think if you are unfamiliar with the source media, Skinamarink might not be your best foray into the subgenre.

I recommend checking out some other ones first and then if you find you really enjoy it, then check out this movie and see how it falls in with the others.

I do look forward to seeing what director Kyle Edward Ball has next, as I can tell he has a lot of creativity and a clear vision for his projects. So, whether his next project is a feature or short film, I’ll be keeping an eye out to see what he has in store in the future.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Rapid Review: Weyward by Emilia Hart


Weyward by Emilia Hart 🕸️

This stunning debut features the interwoven stories of three generations of women who must find their inner strength and courage to battle a world of domineering men and difficult times. 

In 1619, Altha is about to face a murder trial for a crime she didn’t commit. Branded a witch, she expects to hang due to the feelings of the townsfolk about her and her late mother, who have helped and healed many with their tinctures and “potions” made from the flowers and herbs in their garden. 

During wartime 1942, sixteen year old Violet has been essentially hidden away in her family’s cold and dank estate by her iron-handed father, who claims Violet’s affection for insects and nature in general hearkens back to her own mother, a strange and mystical woman.  When Violet meets handsome cousin Frederick, things are set in motion to which there is no easy out. 

And in 2019, Kate is pregnant and on the run from an abusive and possessive boyfriend. She makes her escape to a faraway cottage recently bequeathed to her from a long lost aunt. Here at Weyward, she learns the gifts of the earth, and proves to herself that she is worthy and certainly does not need a man to make her life complete.  But will her past catch up to her? 

This book was so wonderful, I couldn’t put it down. I loved all three women and couldn’t wait for them to learn the lessons needed to kick to the curb the men who were making their lives miserable.  Full of feminism and magical realism, Weyward was a captivating treasure, a gift to be discovered and absorbed. 

And can we just give this book the Cover of the Year award right now?? 

Highly recommended!! 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Rapid Review: THE SOULMATE by Sally Hepworth

                      The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth

Pippa and Gabe fell in love at first site and are now happily married with two daughters. They move to a beautiful house unfortunately located near a popular suicide location called The Drop—a cliff where the sad and desperate walk off to their imminent death. (Why anyone would move into a location like this when you have young children is beyond me but okay, let’s suspend our disbelief.)  

When Gabe talks someone on the ledge down and then does it a half dozen more times he’s basically hailed as the suicide whisperer. What a hero!! 

But one day, he’s unable to help a woman and she jumps (falls?) to her death.  

But when it’s discovered that Gabe knew the woman, the mystery of whether or not she jumped or was pushed begins to unravel Gabe and Pippa’s idyllic marriage—and soon the jumper and her wealthy husband start to figure into the mystery so prominently that the twists coming at the reader are so unpredictable that you’re not sure how the pieces could possibly all fit together for a straightforward ending. 

I really enjoyed this novel or domestic suspense. It’s told from multiple viewpoints and timelines which works exceptionally well here.  Not knowing who to trust, what skeletons are in whose closet and just what happened on that cliff make it a fast-paced and intriguing read.  All the secrets and lies are eventually revealed and the ending was a little shocking and yet perfectly revelatory. 

Will definitely look for more from Hepworth!! 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Hellraiser 2022 - Review

Over the last 35 years, Hellraiser has become a household name and a behemoth in the horror genre. Even if someone doesn't recognize the title of the film, all you have to say is, “the guy with all the nails in his head”, and they immediately know what you are talking about. 

It began as a novella by Clive Barker, an absolutely legendary horror author whose work combines the grotesque and the horrific with beautiful sensuality, woven seamlessly together. The novella was called The Hellbound Heart, and it was published in 1986. A year later Clive Barker, himself, directed the film adaptation of the story into the iconic picture we have all come to know as Hellraiser. It became a classic in no time, with the instantly recognizable villain of the film, Pinhead (aptly named for the nails that jut in all directions from his pasty white skull), donning the cover of 9 additional sequels (although Clive Barker only directed the original film) and now, a remake. 

The film begins establishing some loose exposition to introduce the Lament Configuration, which is the name for the puzzle box featured in all the Hellraiser movies–sort of a main character, in itself. 

This puzzle box (think of it as a demonic rubix cube) is sought out by those who have attained every natural high–be it by drugs, sex, or money–and are seeking a new dimension of pleasure.

 In the 2022 Hellraiser, the puzzle box is acquired by Roland Voight: some ultra-wealthy, mansion-owning, orgy-hosting… guy. We really don't get to know anything about him in the short pre-title exposition, other than he's super wealthy, he owns a mansion, hosts orgies, and he has acquired the puzzle box through some mysterious connection. And he has no problem giving the Lament Configuration exactly what it wants–blood sacrifice. 

With that, we now switch to what will become the main characters for the rest of the film: recovering addict twenty-something Riley, her protective brother and roommate Matt and his boyfriend Colin, and Riley's sketchy “boyfriend” (this is a loose term), Trevor, who her brother strongly disapproves of. Mostly because Trevor is an active addict and obvious low-life. 

When Riley complains of being “sick of being broke”, Trevor casually suggests they rob a warehouse, to which Riley has zero questions or concerns, so off they go. After breaking into a teeny tiny safe that is the sole item in a walk-in shipping container, they find, within, a wooden box. And you know what’s in the box, right? Another box! The puzzle box… 

Now to the review. Comparisons between the new and original film may be made. How can they not be? It is a remake, after all, of a classic and near-perfect film. I won’t say I’m wholly against remakes, but in cases such as these I can’t help but wonder “why”? Is it just a cash grab to profit off a popular film? Is it a way to gain a new generational audience by “updating” the film to a current day setting with current vernacular, music, fashion, etc? And if the latter is the case, then why? Why do films need to be updated? Do we think that the cycles of generations won’t have an interest or appreciation in older films? And on top of that, by making it so obviously “modern”, you are just going to age the film down the line. By commercially stylizing it, you are just putting a timestamp on precisely when the film was made; and with no deeper creative choices driving that, most likely in a decade from now the film will just look tacky.

 The runtime is just over two hours. I’m more partial to a cool 90 minute feature, especially since this film felt extremely drawn out. I actually watched the first hour of the movie sometime in November and didn’t finish it until nearly 3 months later. 

One of my complaints was that it took WAY too long to get a decent look at the cenobites (the demons that dole out the punishments and “rewards” of those who solve the puzzle box). Personally, I’m of the feeling that if I am watching a film with monsters, I don’t want to play the game of hide and seek, building up with a glimpse here and there. I want to see the fucking monsters.

 I was most excited to see the designs they chose for the cenobites, but most scenes of them are overly dark and it’s nearly impossible to make them out. Apparently the film chose to use mostly practical effects over CGI, which is my personal preference when, well, practical–but I felt it wasn’t really properly showcased due to low lighting and heavy use of filters. The only one we do get a decent eyeful of is the main cenobite, leader of the pack, she who would be Pinhead. 

Pinhead (who is still clearly donning pins in the head) is now credited as “the Priest”. Up until this point Pinhead has been played by a man (Doug Bradley in the first 7 films). In 2022 Hellraiser, “the Priest” is now played by Jamie Clayton and appears more feminized, but still androgynous. I was a little underwhelmed by the portrayal of the priest, I found the character to be a bit dull and lifeless, and I would have liked to appreciate the full costume she is donning which required roughly 4 hours of make-up. I don’t place blame on actress Jamie Clayton, though. She doesn’t run the set lighting and she didn’t write the script, and after watching and reading several interviews with her she expressed being genuinely excited and honored to have been given this role and even has the blessing of original Pinhead, Doug Bradley, himself. 

I know that the nature of media in this day and age—in this case, movies—is to remake, reboot, and reimagine; but in my opinion it’d be a lot more interesting to use the time, energy, and resources to craft an entirely new film, and instead allow people to seek out or revisit the original film.


Thursday, March 9, 2023

Rapid Review: The Last Party


THE LAST PARTY by Clare Mackintosh

Ffion Morgan and Leo Brady are two cops—the former from Wales, the latter from England—who are thrown together to solve a murder on the border of the two countries. 

 Rhys Lloyd, a local celebrity with a partial ownership of a lakeside resort area, has invited both the ritzy and townies alike to his New Year’s Eve party.  It doesn’t turn out to much of a fun party when he ends up dead in the lake, though.  

Ffion and Leo are on the task, after having spent a casual, no-strings-attached night together previous to the investigation. This makes for an awkward introduction but the two quickly find a bantering groove whilst they finagle through the boatload of possible suspects, because Lloyd was someone with a lot of enemies.

Part police procedural, part mystery, The Last Party dishes up a lot of drama, from estranged families to secret affairs to a bit of murderous intent.  It took me a while to get comfortable with this one, it’s a lengthy novel with a lot of moving parts.  It seemed like there were just scores of characters and an even longer list of multiple viewpoints. It was a bit much, at least till partway through. But I will admit wholeheartedly that the last third of the book had me riveted, I read late into the night to finish it and was sad when it was over.  

Ffion and Leo are really great and well written characters, with believable and sometimes heartbreaking flaws. Both seem to have issues in their private lives and getting to the bottom of those problems together really makes them a strong pairing. I’ll be anxious to see if Mackintosh continues with both characters in her next book in the series, as they do seem stronger as a team. 

This book had a bit of a Scandinavian feel to it, with a lot of story and many twists and turns.  I really enjoyed it and will definitely pick up the next in the series, due in July. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Rapid Review: The Troop

 The Troop by Nick Cutter

I was warned. I was told it was true horror. And I will concur that it most certainly is. 

Basic premise is: a group of five stereotypical scouts and their scoutmaster head off to an island for a traditional weekend camping trip.  Not long after arriving, an unexpected visitor arrives by boat. The man is extremely gaunt, seems completely out of sorts, and is raving on and on about being hungry.  Scoutmaster Tim, whose day job is a town doctor, follows his Hippocrates Oath and sets out to help, which in doing so, opens up a whole great big can of worms. No, really. No….LITERALLY. 

Think of the most awful, most horrific scenario you can imagine. Are you picturing it? Now multiply that times ten. Or maybe a hundred.  Cutter spares nothing, digging into the horror and throwing it all over you like projectile vomiting.  You will not be able to tread lightly here. Be brave. 

What I loved most about this book was the depth of descriptions, from the scouts themselves to the abject horror that permeates almost every page.  You truly care about the scouts and their “predicament “. (Well, except one and you will know which one once you read.) You want them to be able to escape their inevitable, terrifying deaths. And I’m not giving anything away by saying there is death—this is a horror novel after all.  

After dealing with a pandemic these last three years perhaps it was the wrong (or maybe totally the right?) time to read this one. But if you think we’re just dealing with some coughs and a few face masks you’re fooling yourself. 

💥A word or two of caution: PLEASE be aware there is some triggering animal abuse described within, and it really put me off. I had to set the book down and decide if I wanted to continue. I did however, finish and enjoy The Troop.  But damn….this is a 100 percent HORROR novel. 

Now excuse me while I go take a shower and then look at pictures of kittens for a few days. 😸

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Rapid Review: We Were Never Here

 We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz 

I grabbed this book as one my extra selections for BOTM last month and was immediately immersed in the story of Emily and Kristen, best friends since college and world travelers.  On a trip to Chile the two BFF’s—admittedly more like sisters—run into trouble when Kristen takes a backpacker to her hotel and he attacks her. Emily comes into the room and sees Paulo dead and Kristen completely out of sorts, spouting out that she had to kill him in self defense. 

What makes the circumstances even more surreal is the fact that last year’s girls trip to Cambodia was eerily similar when Emily was assaulted and her attacker ended up dead too.  How is it possible this could happen twice?? 

After burying the crime (literally), the two head to their separate lives—Kristen in Sydney and Emily thousands of miles away in Milwaukee. 

Emily tries to put the crime out of her head and go on with her life, which includes new boyfriend Aaron and her decent job at a pet food upstart, but the tragic last night in Chile keep haunting her. Texts from Kristen are vague and she acts as though all is fine, which bothers Emily even more.  

When information regarding Kristen’s past starts to surface, Emily has to push back thoughts that perhaps she doesn’t know her best friend as well as she thought. And when Kristen suddenly appears on her doorstep and continues to acclimate back into her life—almost relentlessly—the story takes a few twists and turns that kept me guessing! 

I loved this story of two best friends and a hidden crime (or two!) that they are both trying to deal with.  Emily appears to be the protagonist here but there were times I had to sit back and think…wait a minute….am I sure she’s on the up and up?  

This was my first book by this author, I’ll definitely check out her others. 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Rapid Review: The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

An intriguing first novel with a premise any rabid reader will find hard to resist. 

Alex is a 30 year old who has been down on her luck—a job she is just going through the motions for, a love life that is unsatisfying, and a year long, very spiteful estrangement from her best friend. When connections work miracles and get her a chance to be one of five lucky participants in a writer’s retreat at none other than Alex’s favorite author, she surprises herself by writing her way into the gig. 

Once at the famed home of wildly successful novelist Roza, all is not as it seems, for Blackbriar Estate holds secrets of its own. With  gourmet food and wine comes secret passageways and questionable “games”. Most surprising though is when Roza springs a big catch on the five lucky writers: during the month long retreat each of them has to produce an entire novel.  Besides the unlikeliness of that feat, Alex finds herself woefully dismayed to learn her ex-BFF Wren is one of the other four attendees. 

But dealing with Wren and their painful memories is really the least of her problems. When one of the others goes missing and staff at the house are acting odd, Alex and Wren find themselves in a battle for not just publication but for their very lives. 

This entire novel essentially takes place in one location, which is something I love in a good mystery/thriller.  Alex is a likable protagonist and though the book does leak into the outlandish at times, it’s a fun read—and quick read.  I could see this adapted into a movie with strong female leads, would be amazing. 

Looking forward to more from this author. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Dark Arts: Laurie Lipton

Last Night I Dreamt I Murdered Mommy

~by Marie Robinson

 I’ve been a fan of Laurie Lipton’s artwork for a while now. It all started with her piece entitled, “Last Night I Dreamt I Murdered Mommy”, which instantly struck me (I think you can see why) and stuck with me ever since. In times when I have forgotten her name but sought out her art, I would search for the title of this work.

Stranger in the Woods
However, up until now, I really didn’t know much about her, beyond her drawings which are often very dark and, to some, disturbing. I was revisiting her artwork the other day and I found that a short documentary had been done about her by a filmmaker named James Scott. The film is called Love Bite (which is also the name of one of Lipton’s drawings), and it’s about thirty minutes long and available for free on Vimeo. Watching it, I fell even deeper in love with not only Laurie Lipton’s artwork, but also her, as an artist.

Lipton works in one medium, and one medium only: black and white pencil drawings. She says that black and white, “is the color of ghosts [...], old television shows, memories, old family photographs, past, [...] longing, [and] thought.”


There are many statements in her art about family, technology, and industrial society. Death is widely featured, often as a physical presence.

 You may find many of her portrayals of children and their parents to be frightening, or maybe even upsetting; but these are not cheap visuals intended only to shock. These images are a reflection of very real trauma personally suffered by the artist. “There’s a very hurt child in all my work,” Lipton says in the documentary.


However, she goes on that although she is sorry that her younger self and her mother had to suffer as a result of a traumatic experience, she is now grateful for it, because it has defined her as an artist. “You never know what kind of gift comes out of suffering.”

I’ve included below the link to watch the film Love Bite, and to Laurie Lipton’s website.

Watch Love Bite:

Laurie Lipton’s website:

Tuesday, February 7, 2023


 The Haunting of Willow Creek by Sara Crocoll Smith 

In what can be accurately described as “southern gothic”, The Haunting of Willow Creek is the second book by this author that I’ve read. Her first, The Haunting of Orchard Hill, was one of my favorites that I’d read last year. 

In Willow Creek, we meet Birdie, an aspiring photographer invited to an artist’s retreat’s alongside four other talented artisans.

 Willow Creek mansion is your typical southern estate but has a particularly unsettling haunting associated with it. Birdie and her new friends come across all manner of sinister occurrences that test their sanity and make them question whether it is worth solving the underlying mystery—for not just their livelihoods but their very lives are at stake under the majestic willows that line the property and hold secrets ghastly enough to scare even the most strong-willed of inhabitants.

Crocoll Smith has such a stylish way with words. 

Her descriptions of places and characters bring you right inside the story.  While I did think her first book was a bit more intimate and haunting, this tale of friendship overcoming evil is still right in my wheelhouse. Anyone with a keen interest in malevolent ghosts, southern gothic settings and beautiful prose will find something to enjoy here. 

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Sunday Bloody Sunday






Sunday, January 22, 2023

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Sunday Bloody Sunday


Graveyard Shift 



Day of the Dead 2: Contagium

Bed of the Dead 

Friday, January 13, 2023


I love a good gothic ghost story and John Boyne mostly delivers in this tale of foreboding doom. 

Eliza Caine is living a simple life as a school teacher in London.  Her mother lost during the birth (and subsequent death) of her little sister, Eliza has known nothing but her father’s love so it comes as a great shock when he succumbs to sudden illness. Unable to stay where she has put down roots, she accepts a position as a governess in the countryside in Norfolk.  

But almost immediately, things start to occur that make Eliza think of reconsidering the choice.  Even the trip to Gaudlin Hall is rife with trouble when she is nearly pushed in front of a train by an unseen presence.  Her arrival at the stately but crumbling old manor home has her unable to meet or even locate the parents of the charges she is to care for, and the children themselves are bright but seemingly unusual. 

As the next few days and even weeks go by, Eliza not only is still never introduced to Isabella and Eustace’s parents but no one on the property or even in the nearby town wants to discuss them.  The family lawyer does his best to evade her queries and the housekeeper as well as the carriage driver keep to themselves and outright avoid bumping into her. 

But some of the townsfolk eventually begin to open up and she learns of some of the depressing history of the home, including the fact that she is sixth in a line of governesses just in the last year—since an apparent tragedy struck the family.  Even more alarming is that four of the five women hired have died mysteriously. 

Eliza’s stay continues to be fraught with terrifying instances of violence, to the point that she knows for a fact that there is a presence in the house, and what’s worse is that there may actually be two. 

I’ve had this novel sitting on my TBR pile for quite a while, and thought it was time to get to it! Set in the time of Charles Dickens, it brought everything you’d expect from a gothic tale of ghosts and mystery—from dense fog, strange children, and a creepy old mansion to a young woman trying to escape the wrath of a vengeful spirit. 

That said, it did take an inordinate amount of time for the story to get going. I love a slow build up but I was halfway through before anything remotely scary happened. And scary is perhaps not the proper word, in fact.  Nothing here was terribly frightening but I did still enjoy the well-written story. It had obvious shades of The Turn of the Screw and Jane Eyre, that much was blatant yet welcome. 

All in all it was still able to purvey a lingering sense of dread throughout, and though I did guess where the ending was headed I still enjoyed the ride. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Sunday Bloody Sunday



The Children (2008)

The Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary 


IT Chapter 2

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

The Children (2008) - Just One More Reason I Don't Have Kids

I've long admitted that I don't want kids. And once I saw this movie I was so pleased with my decision I almost threw a party for my good sense of self and genuine honesty.  

The Children, a British horror film from some years back, is an effective yet low budget flick that gives new meaning to the phrase "bad kids", albeit was not the childrens' fault that they turned into little psychopaths.

Elaine and Jonah are traveling to her sister Chloe and her husband Robbie's to visit for the holidays. The two couples have five kids between them - one being teenager Casey from Elaine's previous relationship who isn't exactly happy to be there as she is missing a party.  Notably, upon arrival one of Elaine's kids, Paulie, vomits....which his parents attribute to car sickness. Their other child Miranda seems very uneasy to be there, and makes her feelings known. 

 Chloe and Robbie live out in the country and after the other family's arrival and greetings are given all around, the adult conversation revolves around environmental opportunities and who is doing the planet good, etc. They also put several bottles of wine to rest. Meanwhile, the kids get reacquainted and do the usual kid stuff - running, screaming, picking fights, etc. 

As the day rolls into evening, Chloe and Robbie's kids - Nicky and Leah - also complain of not feeling well.  As Leah rolls over to sleep, she coughs up some gunk that she wipes on her pillow and we are shown that some kind of virus is quickly multiplying in the goo.  

The next day, all the young children seem to be getting sick. The family cat goes missing, which of course does not bode well.  At dinner the following day, Miranda suddenly has a complete hissy fit which escalates into pure mayhem and has Jonah taking her upstairs to clam her down.  The rest of the kids head  outside to play in the snow with Robbie.  Also outside is Casey, who has spoken to her friends on the phone and has made plans for one of them to come pick her up so she can sneak off to the aforementioned party.  

All the sudden there is a lot of screaming and Casey runs back to discover Robbie has had a graphic and deadly incident involving downhill sledding and a garden rake.  As he lies bleeding out into the snow, the kids run into the woods . Jonah, Elaine and Chloe rush out to see the bloody scene and try to call emergency services which are tied up due to weather.  

Things escalate tenfold from there, with the kids completely out of control and their minds apparently. There are a series of horrific events that the kids initiate, with no regard for human life let alone the fact that it is their parents that they are out to harm.  It becomes a free-for-all situation in which everyone is out for themselves. 

Do we ever discover what the vomit goo is made of or what disease it is? No. Do the children come to their senses?  No.  Do the adults give those bratty kids a time out? No. Does emergency services ever get there? What do you think?!

But there are copious amounts of blood and a whole lot of children screaming and running amok throughout, which was at times rather off-putting.  But despite the relatively simple plot, the execution of the scenes is great and the story moves along at a rocket's pace once things get going. 

I love to pull this one out of my personal collection around the holidays.  It's a fun killer-kids flick that has good performances from adults and kids alike.  But don't ask me about the cat, okay?