Review: THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE CHILDREN, Maybe Leave the Kids at Home Next Time
Perhaps you are a child-free person and hate kids; or are child-free and love other people's children, especially when they are difficult and you can give them back. Maybe you have and love your kids, but sometimes find parenting difficult (to put it mildly). Whatever your child situation, no doubt kids are a handful; well, they are human beings with all the emotions and problems that come with human life, but without the maturity or power to process and deal with their emotions. Hence, a nice subgenre of horror film that shows just how evil children can really be.
Roxanne Benjamin is not stranger to horror of those left isolated with seemingly a relaxing weekend in mind, and she brings that eye to There's Something Wrong with the Children. Written by screenwriting team T.J. Cimfel and David White (V/H/S Viral, Crawl to Me), it takes us pretty quickly into demon child territory, with quick thinking and fast reflexes in action as the adults try to survive the weekend.
Child-free couple Ben (Zach Gilford, Midnight Mass) and Margaret (Alisha Wainwright, Raising Dion) have rented quite a nice airbnb in the country for the weekend, and their couple friends Ellie (Amanda Crew) and Thomas (Carlos Santos). But Ellie and Thomas are not only bringing their martial problems, they're bringing their kids Lucy and Spencer. And while Ben and Margaret like the kids well enough, it's also a source of angst for them.
The kids are old enough that they could be left somewhat to their own devices, but Ben wants to be a good friend (and maybe test the parental waters with Margaret), so they all go on a hike. On this hike, they find an old factory with a strange, seemingly bottomless pit. And since the kids found it when they were alone, whatever is down in that pit, has chosen them as their conduit.
There's some good subtle and no-so-subtle dynamics and personality clashes that the script and the camera pick up: Ben is the only one who seems to notice the kids are acting strangely, and the new Lucy and Spencer seem to know that Ben is the one who will be trusted the least. Previous mental health problems and current medication means he's seen as prone to paranoia and exagerration: after all, they're just kids, they get rowdy and weird sometimes, but what harm could they do?
Benjamin doesn't make us wait long to turn up the tension of the stakes, and pretty soon it's a cat-and-mouse game of who will Lucy and Spencer catch first, and what will be done with them. And yes, they can do great harm, not just because they're possessed by something that sounds and moves like an insect, and when you're in the woods, that's damn scary. Much of this is put on Margaret, and we really see how she must make several choices in order to try and save herself, each one of which could be wrong - after all, how do you outwit a creature you don't even understand (which yeah, sounds like a kid).
With a nice twist on the usual 'cabin in the woods' trope, There's Something Wrong with the Children might be a proving point to those without kids, and a warning that maybe we all need an adults-only weekend now and then.
There's Something Wrong with the Children will be released on Digital and On Demand on January 17th via Paramount Home Entertainment, and will be available on MGM+ on March 17th.
There's Something Wrong with the Children
- Roxanne Benjamin
- T.J. Cimfel
- David White
- Zach Gilford
- Amanda Crew
- Alisha Wainwright