The Children


The Children

Critics Consensus

Unsettling and spine-chilling low-budget British horror, with effective and disturbing scares.



Total Count: 17


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,658
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Movie Info

A relaxing Christmas vacation turns into a terrifying fight for survival as the children begin to turn on their parents.


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Critic Reviews for The Children

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (4)

  • Shankland's approach is oblique rather than graphic, but these icy chills will send shivers down your spine.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 4/6 | Full Review…

    Nigel Floyd

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The grown-ups, rather hysterically, blame each others' parenting skills. The plot promptly disintegrates into a gory struggle for credibility against appalling odds.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The fundamentally disturbing and creepy aspects about such random and unpredictable child-centric mayhem are always present, no matter how ludicrously intense and darkly humorous things get.

    Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • A solid balance between set-up, conflict, and horrific execution. Just a well-made horror film all around.

    Aug 28, 2015 | Full Review…
  • All build and no bang.

    Oct 18, 2013 | Full Review…
  • The Children is a surprisingly tense, slow-brewing horror film that plays on current trends (rabid flu-like infections) and refreshes old clichéd conventions (killer children).

    Oct 16, 2010 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Children

  • Jun 01, 2014
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 01, 2014
    Deeply scary tale of the break down of nuclear family. Cleverly directed and filmed. There was not a single moment of not being terrified by the children. Even though violence was rare seen on screen, the rapid change of scenes and loud noises combined well with the score to let the audience be on the edge of their seat. Another reason why we should only have 2 children per family.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Nov 25, 2013
    So the synopsis reads; "What seems like a normal trip to their auntie's and uncle's soon turns into a disaster as uncle Robbie is mysteriously killed after appearing to fall off a sledge, and then mysterious child like figures from the forest start attacking." Which is very, very misleading. The kids were there kids, and we already knew this. So, although that too would've mad e a cool plot, it's not actually what happened. Still, the movie that actually got made, was really great. A family of two adults, one teen and three children, meet up with another family of two parents and two kids in the snow (which was a superb setting, by the way), this makes for a total of five kids, and five non-kids. So we find out right from the get go that these kids are being affected by some kind of virus, which is making them extra tantrum-y. And deadly. One of the only problems I actually had with the film was that this is all we get. A close-up of some crazy CG ebola looking thing. It doesn't bother me if we don't get to find at the end about how the military experiment went wrong and brought bacteria from another dimension that corrupts the innocent... or something, but they just sort of dropped it there. It was like the script-writer kind of went "Hm, why are they evil? Virus? Yeah that sounds good... And, then, they all, had, a viiiirus. Okay. Well, don't need to bring that up again!" Le sigh. I really had no idea what to expect from the film, but I'm always sceptical of child actors, it's a profession, and the same as anything else, practice makes perfect. Children just don't have the same life-experience to draw on, or the same amount of time to get the knack of it. It's not their fault, it's just the way of the world. But this has got to be up there with some of the most impressive child acting I've ever seen! Every single one of them was fantastic! But everyone's performance was great. The whole "child killer" thing has been explored a bit recently (Eden Lake, The Orphan, The Orphanage, The Uninvited, The Unborn, Children of the Corn Remake etc.) and they've all been pretty good... except for CotC anyway. The music is overly-dramatic and occasionally there's some annoying things like, if you call 999 (it's British) and get an ambulance, usually it would show up at some point in the next few hours. But no, and some other moments too, but all in all I thought the film was very watchable. Especially the garden shed scene, just about wet myself laughing. It's a serious movie but DAMN that was funny. You'll get it if you watch it. Which I'm recommending you all do. It's only rated MA15+ and probably is the least gory movie I've reviewed so far. Do eet! -Gimly
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 15, 2012
    <B><I>THE CHILDREN</I> (2008)</B> WRITTEN BY: Paul Andrew WIlliams and Tom Shankland DIRECTED BY: Tom Shankland FEATURING: Eva Birthistle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley GENRE: <B>HORROR</B> RATING: 6 PINTS OF BLOOD <B>PLOT: Minors shouldn't play with dead things. Or be allowed to carry on with a cutlery catalogue fantasy of sharp, pointy objects. Especially when something evil makes sticky, snot-nosed children turn into sticky, snot-nosed children with a lust for murdering adults. The Children is a simple, but effective thriller relatively free of the worst clichés, and based on Paul Andrew Williams' short story, The Cottage. </B> COMMENTS: Never trust anyone over 30." Or under 12. Especially if they've dipped their Pixie Sticks in a mysterious slime mold that looks like vomited-up eggs. Yes, it's true. Kids are attracted to goo the way flies are drawn to manure. When two smug, yuppie couples bring their mufti-offspring families together for a politically correct, child-centric Yuletide holiday, way, way out in the snow-bound middle of nowhere, the kids do just that. Become attracted to goo, that is. Some kind of mysterious goo that seems to be spreading inexplicably around the countryside. Hey what is that stuff? Animal, vegetable, mineral, virus, or just plain toxic glop dumped by your local Beatrice Foods/WR Grace manufacturing mill? We don't know! But kids -the kind of kids who put everything in their mouths to better understand what those things are, seem to have a penchant for getting this stuff on them and in them. And it turns them evil! Muhahahahahaha! It does so in a subtle, incipient way. The enigmatic yuck-spunk sparks psychedelic visions as the kids begin to engage in some pretty gross and gruesome activities, One thing leads to another down a slippery slope to sadism and murder, until whatever it is compels the youngsters to kill mum and dad. And we aren't talking about Junior exercising bad judgement by putting a Molotov cocktail in dad's car engine for a good joke. All thirteen year old boys want to do THAT. No, it's more like eight year old Junior positioning a pitchfork in front of a downhill-sledding patriarch, barreling drunkenly toward his doom. And it's done in a way that looks just like an honest accident. Evidently Junior finds amusement in dad's frantic antics and shocked countenance as he realizes he can't stop in time to keep said pitchfork from making a toupee out of his scalp. (Oddly, there must be something about becoming adults that makes us forget we can simply bail off a fast-moving, child's sled.) Well, you get the idea. Two families, full of the latest Dr. Spock style paradigms, who don't believe in spanking their young-'uns, keep themselves in denial as their offspring gradually have them for lunch. One might argue that the brood pack behaves only slightly worse than most children are naturally inclined to deport themselves when enjoying a liberal sparing of the veritable rod. That's serious enough though to make for a scary story because the caregivers are slow to come to the realization that their little darlings are going bat-funk crazy and becoming bloodthirsty -more so than might be expected from their merely listening to rap music. Worse, their spoil-the-child values mean the adults are loathe to resort to necessary violence to defend themselves. The elders become a smorgasbord for their killer children's baser instincts. Most of the suspense in The Children ensues from this critical inability to decisively perceive and meet the threat. Additionally, the parents' liberal attitudes, inattentiveness, and the fact that until all children are taught about the social contract, their natural inclination is more toward the savage than the civilized, provides an undertone of social commentary similar to Jonothan Kaplan's fact--inspired, 1976 adolescent shocker, Over The Edge. Ironically, the only adult in The Children who grasps what's really happening has no credibility because she's a rebellious 16 year old. If the moms and dads believed in administering good spankings, The Children would have been about a ten minute movie -with the kids being stuffed in the nearest available wood-stove by their exasperated kin ala a reversal of Hansel And Gretel. But sadly, or maybe enjoyably (because it's cruel fun to see the pretentious, doltish, overly-fertile parents being eliminated from the gene pool) such is not the case. Unwilling to accept that their kids have become incipiently scheming and patricidally evil, the adults blame each other. And that's basically the plot. The Children, however, is better than it sounds. While the set-up is remarkably simple and straightforward with a chronological storyline, it's actually an effectively scary movie. Within its context, the story and characters are believable, the undertone is tensely creepy, and the well-cast child actors give solid performances. The Children bears an uncanny resemblance to The Children (1980), in which school kids become toxic, matricidal avengers after exposure to industrial waste, and along those environmental lines, to Bert Gordon's production of H.G. Wells' Food Of The Gods (1976). Not as chilling as the more creatively clever Village Of The Damned (1960, 1995), and Children Of The Damned (1964), or as socially contemplative as The Bad Seed (1956), or The Good Son (1993), The Children is still a worthwhile watch if you enjoyed those movies. Just how sick are these kids going to become? Will Junior sprout horns and a third eye? Or just choose a path toward an eventual pre-law scholastic curriculum? As you view The Children and contemplate such eventualities, you are sure to enjoy its foreboding tone and delightful ick! factor, as the film charts its course toward a satisfyingly eerie, but unremarkable open ending.
    Pamela D Super Reviewer

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