29 November 2008 | ukkid35
A Family Christmas to Remember
One of the most effective aspects of this movie is the way the tension builds inexorably. From the moment you see the children there is an impending sense of doom. The children themselves are both brilliantly cast and wonderfully realistic, by which I mean that their behaviour is easily recognisable as the normal behaviour of manipulative and moody kids, until it spills over to the purely demonic.
The rest of the cast who, apart from Stephen Campbell Moore, I didn't recognise, all portrayed characters who were very believable, even if not entirely sympathetic. After all, how can you sympathise with smug middle class parents discussing homeschooling now that they've sold the business? The adults were in fact wonderfully flawed, matched in spades by Casey, who enters the movie as the least sympathetic character: selfish, self absorbed, and distant in the way that only a sixteen year old can be. However, Casey is arguably the real hero.
The script skillfully presents the tip of the iceberg, suggesting and hinting at the unseen part of the characters' lives, never spelling everything out, but crediting the audience with the wit to work some things out for themselves. The horror cliché of characters doing stupid or unrealistic things that annoy the audience was always avoided, as was the use of the dark. Instead the action takes place against a white Christmas backdrop, which sadly reminded me a little of Reny Harlin's 'snow' bound Die Hard 2, but even so the blood on snow motif was very effective.
Tom Shankland's script, and in particular the dialogue, was very convincing, but he is also a highly visual director. According to my girlfriend the Miss Marple he helmed is quite beautifully photographed, and I really liked the atmosphere and visuals in WAZ. The Children also has the same stunning images, which along with the very powerful soundtrack, conjure a mood of foreboding and dread. If you appreciate horror movies with tension and beauty as well as a succession of wince- inducing set pieces, then this is a film for you.