Review: ANKLE BITERS, Step-Parenting Can Be Murder
Being a step-parent is no easy task; how much can you, or should you, 'parent' your partner's children? Do you try to be their friend or remain an outsider? And what if yoiu don't like them? And what if they don't like you - to the point of homicide? Well, then, things can get a bit tricky, as one man is about to discover, in this very dark horror-comedy from Canadian filmmaker Bennet De Brabandere, which might make you think twice about embracing little ones.
Sean Chase (Zion Forrest Lee) was one of the top hockey enforcers, known for his violent behaviour on the ice. After a severe injury, he thinks his lfie his over, until he meets Laura (Marianthi Evans) in a Hollywood romance meet-cute. Their compatibility, both outside and inside the bedroom, gives Sean a new lease on life. But the widowed Laura comes with four daughters, and as much as Sean wants to prove himself to them over a summer at the cottage, these girls clearly have other plans.
Sean seems to be shifting from his former bad-boy persona to family man with relative ease; there's no doubt as to his love for Laura, and it certainly doesn't hurt that they have similar tastes in consensual violent acts in the bedroom. But he still lacks certain skills as to parenting, prefering to be a lovable goof with the girls, and seems to take a bit of pride in a certain level of immaturity. Laura seems both blissful in her happiness, and blissfully ignorant of her daughters' dislike of their potential new daddy. We can laugh a bit at Sean's attempts at being loved and loveable, but that darkness and horror is coming in fast.
It's clear quickly enough that these girls means business, and maybe they've had some experience with this level of violence in the past. They're not shrinking violets, nor are they deceptive cherubs. They love their mother, they think Sean is hurting her, and they won't stand for it. Not content to just drive him away, they want him gone. And they tricks they play are pretty dirty from the get-go: do they know how dangerous they will be? It seems they do, and at least a couple of them not only don't care, but relish in their rather vicious acts. Dangerous children are a cornerstone of horror, and these ones are some of the most gruesomely dangerous you'll find.
De Brabandere does not hold back in this narrative: Sean is a reforming asshole, but he's not dangerous; this kids might be understandablty hesitant about a new daddy in their lives, but they are monsters. Against the Canadian cottage setting, their cruelty, particularily in one instance, is quite shocking, and yet fits into the tone of the (increasingly less comedic) darkness. How much are you willing to forgive your children their faults, putting your own needs aside for them, to the point of their complete power over you?
Violence perpetrated by children always hits you in the gut far more viscerally, and these little monsters seem both fully aware of the effects of their acts, and yet, as long as their mommy promises never to leave, they'll let their guilt melt away. Starting fairly dark and getting darker with each passing scene, Ankle Biters doesn't let up until everyone has blood on their bodies or hands.
Ankle Biters∫ is now available to watch On Demand.
- Bennet De Brabandere
- Bennet De Brabandere
- Zion Forrest Lee
- Colin Mochrie
- Peter Schoelier
- Heidi von Palleske