The story goes something like this: A sweet and somewhat oblivious young lady named Alicianne Del Mar is hired as a baby-sitter for a little girl named Rosalie Nordon, who is grieving the lost of her mother. When Alicianne is driving to the Nordon's house, in the middle of nowhere, her car breaks down and she finds herself stranded in some creepy woods (that's original). Alicianne is assisted by Mrs. Whitfield, a noisy elderly woman with a very annoying high-pitched voice, who lives in the area. Mrs. Whitfield, who doesn't have much of a life, invites Alicianne for a cup of tea and suddenly begins to say nasty things about the Nordons (we all know old ladies like this, don't we?). The old bitty seems to particularly dislike little Rosalie and she even blames the child for a lot of strange things that happen in the area, without being too specific about it. Alicianne, however, doesn't take the accusations very seriously and she assumes that the little girl's questionable behavior may come from the fact that she has recently lost her mother. Yeah, if only...
When Alicianne arrives to the Nordon residence, Rosalie's father doesn't exactly offer her a friendly welcome. The man (who looks like he's in this sixties, if anything) acts cranky for no reason and then, out of nowhere, he begins to mumble some incoherencies about how he cannot stand nervous women and a bunch of other nonsense. At this point, we can only assume that Alicianne will quit the next day... but then, Rosalie's older brother, Len, enters the scene and apologizes for his father's rustic manners.
After this, Alicianne goes upstairs and walks into Rosalie's room, without even knocking first (because being intrusive is always a good way to bond with a child). After Alicianne introduces herself to Rosalie, the child randomly begins to talk about her late mother's beautiful hair (um, okay) and then points out a photograph of the alleged woman, which actually looks more like a portrait from the XIX century (seriously, couldn't they get a photograph of a woman from the 60s, 50s or even 40s?)
Against all odds, the child becomes rather attached to Alicianne and she even gets a little bit posessive, too. Though the cutesy baby-sitter tries to be in good terms with the child, the truth is that Rosalie is, in fact, very weird and she does a lot of strange things, like, walking around the cemetery at the night (yikes!). Rosalie doens't even bother hiding her true colors and she proudly behaves cynically, sinister and downright disrespectful towards her father, by defying him, telling him to shut up and even calling him "old man". Rosalie's morbid behavior would have made her really popular nowadays, where being rude, horrible and creepy is trendy, but this was the 70s, where little girls were still expected to be nice and cute, so obviously, nobody likes Rosalie. Was Mrs. Whitfield right all along? Yes, Rosalie is clearly not an ordinary girl and not only because of her manners, but also, because she seems to have a special power tha she uses for evil purposes. When the innocent baby-sitter discovers the truth, she teams up with Rosalie's brother in order to save their sorry behinds, before it's too late.
All right, I love this movie and not even in a patronizing way. I know it may seem like I was making fun of it during my recap of the story, and maybe I was, but I actually love "The Child" and the random nature of it, is one of the main reasons why I do. The thing is: I'm not sure if the nonsensical dialogs and situation are the result of poor writting or if this is some kind of oniric type of story-telling. Perhaps a little bit of both? Since Robert Voskanian, the director, didn't do any other films, we'll never know if his randomness regarding the story and the bizarre dialogs were the result of poor writting or if this is simply his style (kind of like, a poor man's David Lynch). The editing, the photography, the camera movements, angles and shots seem rather unpolished and "unprofessional" for the lack of a better word. I mean, I can absolutely appreciate films that try not to be so tidy and nicely done, so using the word "professional" or "unprofessional" can be a bit out of place, when it comes to art. Honestly, to me, this is a solid horror film by accident, as it seems like they pretty much overlooked certain technical aspects, and rushed things towards the last minutes, as they realized that the production had ran out of budget before the filming was over. I cannot really elaborate a list with all the details that give away the fact that this production was messy, because it would be a very long list and then, the review would get super boring, so you're going to have to trust me on this one. Be that as it may, the bizarre photography and camera work, along with the amateurish editing, actually work well. There are enough "nicely done" horror movies, technically speaking, and I'd be more than happy to see more "messy" films like this, because this so-called messiness helps to create a dark an chaotic atmosphere.
The fact that the movie was mostly dubbed (and it is very obvious) also gives "The Child" a rather weird and eerie vibe.
I don't know anything about the filming locations, but the woods and the big house where the story take place are eerie and both sceneries convey a feeling of isolation and gloominess. I don't find nature and isolation depressing per se, but when you put these characters in this sceneries, I really do. Rosalie is, in fact, very creepy and the relationship between her and her father is, in my opinion, one of the best aspects of this film. Aside from the fact that both characters are mostly hillariously bizarre, the truth is that Mr. Nordon appears to be a very troubled and dark character, which we can mostly notice in one scene, in which he laughs while telling the story of a bunch of kids who accidentally poisoned themselves, by ingesting oleander sap. Now, I also laughed when the old man begun to laugh at the children, but strangely, I found it disturbing, too.
My main criticism regarding this film comes from the fact that "The Child" could have used a little bit more character development, since we don't get to know enough about Rosalie's late mother, which is crucial to the story. Are we supposed to asume that Rosalie inherited her powers from her mother or her mother (who was very interested in the human mind) spent her entire life learning how to develop powers and she passed that knowledge to her child? Was Mrs. Nordon really such a strange woman or was she simply a misunderstood person, who was interested in the human mind? A nice flashback or a final revelation would have been very much appreciated. Part of Rosalie's background story is revealed by Mrs. Whitfield, in my opinion, that wasn't enough. Other than that, "The Child" is a very enjoyable little flick and I highly recommend it to horror fans who don't take films too seriously all the time.