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Booth's Blog: The Demon Child...!
By Emily Booth, Thursday 26th May 2016

Emily Booth Red JacketThe Village of the Damned, Children of the Corn, Damien Thorn, Orphan, Regan, The Shining twins – you know where I’m going with this. There is a long history of the evil child in horror films and a very primal fear being explored, addressed and exorcised; could our own darling offspring turn against us? Does our unconditional protective love really mean anything to them? What kind of chaotic society would be left behind if the children were in charge?

With the network premiere of Tom Shankland’s The Children on Horror Channel this coming Saturday 28th May, I thought I’d delve a little further into the history of this most potent sub- genre and why the hell it freaks us out so much!

The evil child can commit the perfect crime, the most heinous acts and be the least suspected person on the planet. Add to that their innate ability to appear innocent, devoid of hatred, uncorrupted and you have a very powerful, very horrifying concept on your hands. Can a child be born evil? Perhaps this is the ultimate parental fear committed perfectly to celluloid in the opening scene of John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween. A 6-year-old boy in a Halloween mask lacking any sort of emotion grabs a knife and proceeds to stab his sister to death for absolutely no reason other than it’s an evil act they want to commit. And as all fans know that famous quote of Dr Loomis “I spent 8 years trying to reach him, and then another 7 trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply evil…”

A fear echoed two years earlier in the highly disturbing 1976 horror Alice, Sweet Alice where a jealous 12 year old girl becomes the lead suspect in the horrific and violent murder of her own sister during her first Holy Communion. Not only do we have the creepy kid here, we have the creepy Catholic kid, controversial stuff indeed. But can a 12 year old girl be capable of such evil? Well “Parents so often don’t know their children as well as they presume” says Louisa Horton’s character Dr. Whitman echoing, I believe, the immensely fragile and volatile relationship between the secretive teenager and the parent.

The Children however delves into the fear of the irrational feral chaotic child – the child with no boundaries. Two families come together to share a wonderful idyllic Christmas in the countryside, but come evening, some of the children turn sick, their behavior rapidly becoming violent and feral. The film decides not to engage in complicated reasons behind the ‘mental sickness’, which makes it a stronger more profound ‘concept horror.’ Roles here are reversed, whereby the parents become the victims of their own undying love and trust in their offspring. But even when faced with a murderous stranger behind your own child’s eyes – could you ever turn against them? No, it is the weakness of being a parent… Huge profound themes are being explored here and will make all parents slightly unnerved the next time they look into those wide eyes….!

The Children, a network premiere Saturday 28th 9:00pm.


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