harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
harsens_rob
harsens_rob

Review for THE CHILDREN ... beware, black nail polish ahead

[This review doesn't have a DVD cover. It was viewed via HULU -which pisses me off a lot by freezing or not coming back after commercial breaks, so I don't know how many times I'll be using it for movie-watching.]

THE CHILDREN
(1980)



Starring: Martin Shakar, Gil Rogers, Gale Garnett

DIR by: Max Kalmanowicz



Scene 01: We start with a long pan down some sort of industrial construction with catwalks everywhere. We get the Albright Films credit and we can see that there are men working on this large... thing.

A pair of workers are inspecting and compare notes. They report that they've checked the intake and export ports and have been looking over the outer skin of the concrete monstrosity but haven't found anything out of the ordinary. Through worker-banter we learn that the control room had detected a pressure drop earlier in the day and these two were sent out to see if they could discover where it originated from.

It's near the end of the workday for these two. While one of them worries that there may be something they've missed, the other doesn't think they'll be authorized the overtime and there isn't any way he's working on his own dime. Somehow, they're apparently not required to check-in with their control room before throwing their tools in the trunk of - let's just call these two Alpha-Male and Follower - Alpha-Male's car and taking off for a beer.

As the men take their leisurely time about leaving, we're finally able to identify (assuming you didn't see commercials for this movie when it came out) that the industrial complex is a nuclear energy generation plant.



We zoom in, zoom in, zoom in... following the miles of pipes around the facility. Unshockingly, since we're in horror movie territory, we see that there is in fact a very small leak. It's some sort of radioactive water/coolant and as we stare at the droplets of water/coolant (and stare and stare and stare - OKAY, WE GET IT) we hear sizzling sounds. Finally, we pan down and see that the droplets are steaming when they hit the ground, creating a cloud of noxious fog.


Scene 02: Over credits, we follow a school bus loaded with children (*gasp*, THE CHILDREN) singing 1000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. The bus stops to let off a kid, so we can get some background information on our setting. One - this is late afternoon, since the kids are being released. So this is happening at the same time that the noxious fog is building. Second, we can tell that this is a semi-rural area, probably a farming community, so there will be plenty of people who can be killed off, but not discovered right away... or that we're about to watch a movie where there are very few actual victims... one or the other.

The kids continue singing - this time a new song I can't identify involving repeating the word 'counterfeit' over and over and over. We see plenty of idyllic background. Because at least before horror devolved into dark, grimy rooms with women screaming as their tortured, all horrors took place in idyllic towns after we were assured about how idyllic everyone's peaceful existence was before the monsters showed up.

I just wish the kids would shut up.

As we follow along with the bus, we see it make a turn off for the tiny community of Ravensback. Kids sing obnoxious rhyme in honor the aw-shucks swell bus driver.

(We get it. Where's the radioactive cloud of mutation?)

We get plenty of shots of our couple of kids on the bus that will be our monsters, but I still won't remember their faces or be sure whose kid is whose. A VW Bug comes alongside the bus and gives a honk and a wave to the driver as she passes by. She'll be one of our main characters and I'll just tell you right now that she's a) pregnant and b) not immediately killed by breathing in radioactive fumes from the toxic cloud she's about to pass through. This is important for the all-too-obvious-a-twist-to-count-as-a-stinger-ending after THE CHILDREN are dealt with one way or the other.


Commentary: I didn't find this movie to be as bad as I had heard. It's enjoyable enough, but a severe weakness will be the "shocking" ending you can see coming five miles away and these opening establishment scenes that go on too long to hold interest. A little background here, too, but it's from my admittedly faulty memory: I seem to (clearly?) recall that there was this huge uproar when the movie was released because the monsters are children and the adults are going to deal with them ruthlessly. Let me spoil things here (sorry) by telling you that the hoopula (as is almost always the case with these things) was a lot of mountains-being-made-of-molehills. Yes, our kids are going to be our little killers and yes, being monsters, they have to suffer - but very little of it will be onscreen. Don't buy the hype about the extreme violence to kiddies nor about the extremely badness of the movie - this is a relatively average picture with I think one scene on screen that I'd say was shocking which will be pointed out when we get there.


Scene 03: As the kids continue repeating the same rhyming sing-song about the bus driver, he gets a surprised look on his face. The POV switches to looking out of the front window of the bus and we see the VW Bug driving into a yellowish cloud over the road. The bus follows, as there isn't any time to stop. As the bus passes into the cloud, the sound of the kids singing their song suddenly stops.



Scene 04: Out on patrol, the sheriff also takes the road to Ravensback. He passes his deputy chatting up some young woman in cut offs selling vegetables from a stand at the side of the road. He just gives them a wry smile as he passes.

Teen girl's father drives by on his tractor on the way out to his field or town, or where ever. He stops long enough to tell his daughter that he'll be home for supper, leaving deputy to intimate that since no one else is home, he and the young lady have some time to get intimate.


Scene 05: The sheriff comes across the school bus, which is canted at the side of the road. It's door is opened and no one is present, but the engine is still running. We spend a little too much time, again, in order to establish that no one is aboard, but all of their school books and bags have been left behind.


Commentary: I'd like to highlight here another weakness in the story, and it's a bit surprising because this movie came out in 1980 after we knew a lot more about nuclear dangers. The radioactive cloud here isn't treated as being some sort of weird phenomena, or having weird characteristics (other than the fact that it hasn't inconveniently dispersed). It's exactly as it was presented - a nuclear coolant leak caused a toxic radioactive fog - and yet rather than say burn the hell out of anyone's lungs who passed through it, killing them instantly, it instead mutates children into nuclear monsters (while the bus driver and VW Bug lady weren't impacted at all, apparently). This is so very 1950's B-Movie that it does give this section of the movie a nostalgic patina.


Scene 06: The sheriff, puzzled, drives down the road to the property of the local doctor to see if the bus driver and kids had walked to her home for some reason. The sheriff asks to speak to another woman in the house, but the doctor declines. This part of the story is a bit unclear. I think the other woman is her sister, maybe, and she's obviously unwell (it struck me as an emotional or psychological infirmity). It isn't explained. We also know that 'Tommy' is one of the kids on the bus and lives here. I think that the fragile woman is the mother. Anyway, the doctor is kind of a bitch immediately, but she goes back to the bus with the sheriff in case there is a problem that needs medical attention.


Scene 07: The sheriff and doctor returned to the scene of the bus. It is sitting across from a cemetery, so there are plenty of places for THE CHILDREN to potentially be hiding (not to mention that there is plenty of forests in the immediate environs as well).

She confirms that Tommy's things are still aboard the bus (and she still gives off an antagonistic air that isn't explained). With no sign of THE CHILDREN or the bus driver, the sheriff calls his deputy, breaking up his make out session in the barn with veggie-short-shorts-girl to report the mysterious situation.

He orders Billy to go to the interstate crossroads and set up roadblocks. No one is to leave unless their vehicles are searched for signs of any of the missing kids and no one is to enter unless they live there.


Commentary: While this whole conversation occurs, hot-to-trot girl seems completely oblivious to any of this despite the fact she can hear that the kids are mysteriously missing and that her brother Paul is, presumably, still on the bus and unaccounted for. Nice.


Scene 08: The doctor calls for Tommy on the edge of the woods, but declines the sheriff's offer of a ride back to the house. He's going to head into town to recruit some men to help out the deputy at the interstate and to arrange a search party. She worries over Lesley finding out that her son is missing (and she's still coming off to me like mildly bitchy about the inconvenience of all of this, rather than genuine worry).

After the lawman drives off, we see a black nail polished hand - a hand of one of THE CHILDREN and POV behind one of the gravestones. The killer brat is watching her. Conveniently, this is Tommy, her sister's missing boy.

She hears a cry and sees a boy's shape dart off through the graveyard and jogs after him, calling "Tommy? Tommy? Tommy?" much too much.


Commentary: And here, I'm going to mention the music. The music here is provided by famous composer, Harry Manfredini. He gained his fame because he composed the soundtrack for Friday the 13th, a soundtrack that everyone knows (especially Jason's mom's whispered "hah-hah-hah, ch-ch-ch" during the stalking scenes). Anyway, I'm bothering with this to explain that I don't really notice when one composer is 'borrowing' elements from a previous track in order to fill out another movie's soundtrack. I just don't.

I'm making an exception here because it is so aggregious as to actually piss me off a little bit. Now, I understand that this is a cheap and tacky little movie that I'm sure was not made with a large budget. But Harry, you took this job, and using musical stings from Friday the 13th that are so very clearly recognizable as both from that movie and copied nearly identically from Psycho's shower scene, is just plain rude.

Like I say, I just don't notice these sorts of things ordinarily - but this blatant cribbing on what I think you could argue is the 'signature sound' of these other, very well known movies is lazy. I'm not positive about the influence, but I also think that the low bass "daaaah-dah-dah" may be coming from JAWS - and if that's the case, I now actively hate you. Oh, and also, your "this is shocking" musical stings are overdone. But, back to the actual movie events....


Doctor runs through cemetery calling after Tommy, who doesn't answer her in any way. As she comes around one of the headstones, she trips over a body ... the school bus driver has just been found. Even though his legs are clearly sticking out into her path, she didn't see him lying there until she tripped over him. We see that the bus driver is clearly dead - and that he has suffered massive facial burns.



The doctor examines the corpse in horror, when Tommy comes out from behind the tombstone very suddenly. She's relieved that he's okay and wraps her arms around him... we hear horrible pained scream of burning death as we see her cooked by the black-nail-polished-hug-of-mortal-doom. She's radioactively cooked to death.


Commentary: So, we may as well address one of the big complaints about this movie right here: the minimal makeup of THE CHILDREN and their method of killing. Mostly when people snark about this flick, it's that the black nail polish is really silly and the bizarre idea that THE CHILDREN kill by hugging the adults to death. I'll give the first one some leeway. The focusing shots of hand close-ups so we can see that black fingernail polish = monster does come across as more than a little silly. It also wasn't necessary. THE CHILDREN act so bizarrely with their stumbled gait, outstretched arms and rictus grins, that it just wasn't necessary to put this much emphasis on the nail polish of bad tidings.

As to the second point, I don't see the complaint here, except of course for the desire to see more active killing, rather than the pretty passive "hold out my arms and wait for people to hug me" hunting method of the bratlings. There are some problems in the writing as well. I've already discussed the issue of radiation being treated as the "it can do anything" plot point that is long past the point where it is naively cute like in the 1950's and 1960's movies. By this time, we've already had the Three Mile Island Scare ... now, it is possible that this movie was in production before that crap hit the fan but it still seems like 1980 was just too late not to deal with the real life effects of radiation poisoning. And, we never get any sort of in movie explanation for why the kids were impacted in this way, or why the bus driver and the VW Bug lady (who we will be getting back to) didn't just have their lungs seared immediately. I think all of this is pretty forgivable since this is pretty much being handled from the beginning as a B-Movie and should be approached in that way.

I also want to admit here that I didn't foresee the doctor being killed. I thought that she was going to be one of our heroines who would help the Sheriff combat this threat to the town. Now, finally as to the burn effects - I'd have actually rather that they had scrimped a little on these effects and instead put more money toward the kid's makeup, but the burned people just look like they're covered in pancake-thick makeup. Still, I really think some of the drubbing that this movie takes in the snarky reviews are just overstated and border on outright pettiness, rather than pointing out legitimate problems with the movie.



Scene 09: While the doctor is being cooked alive, the Sheriff has gone down to the general store.


Commentary: I'll warn you here that because this is on HULU it has had no restoration work and there is really heavy artifacts (hair, dust, shmutz on the lens) here. I don't want you to let that get in the way of watching the movie, because it isn't this bad through most of it, but I'd be remiss not to mention it.


In General Store, a pair of "country bumpkins" try to convince the storeowner to buy some birds they've hunted as the sheriff comes in. (One of these guys was very recognizable and it was driving me crazy trying to think of where I'd seen him - The answer was John Carpenter's The Thing.) They are drafted to help the deputy at the interstate crossroad.

The General Store proprietess knows everything through her police scanner and insists that the bus driver would never leave the motor running on the bus, even if (as one of the theories is) he took them on an impromptu field trip (And, let's remember you could still be friendly with children back then without everyone seeing creepy ulterior motives behind it). They have an awkward pause here, because they're actually waiting for the third actor to come into the store.

A new guy comes in looking for ether for his souped up car, which apparently is a piece of junk that never runs right. We're going to discover that a) he has a daughter on the bus, b) he has a son at home, and c) he is the husband of the pregnant woman in the VW Bug that we saw so long ago, you can be forgiven for thinking she was random, unimportant character.

The sheriff has to break the news that daughter Jenny is missing, along with the other bus kids.


Scene 10: The Sheriff tells Jenny's dad that he'll swing by his place later to pick him up to help search. Jenny's dad is going to try to get the car to run long enough to get home and break the news to his wife, Cathy and to see if maybe Jenny hasn't come home on her own in the meantime. General Store Lady calls to somebody named Fred over the CB, but is frustrated with him when he doesn't reply.


Scene 11: The Sheriff goes to another family's home to report their kid's disappearance. He finds them in the back by the pool, lounging. She gives us the required gratuitous boobs as she's sunbathing topless. Her husband is busy lifting weights, so there's something for us who aren't interested in the funbags. The Sheriff finds them both too zoned out on pot to give much concern to the fact that their daughter is missing. As well, the mother is a real piece of work - when the Sheriff asks if her kid has made it home, she immediately makes a crack about her being a little young for the Sheriff since she's only nine(! WHAT? This is supposed to be a little joke -- about your kid?) - I immediately can't wait for her to be baked alive, even though she looks a lot like Terri Hatcher, who I generally wouldn't want to see sizzled to death.

Hunky husband is barely any more concerned. It becomes obvious very quickly that Janet isn't exactly embraced by her adolescent-behaving parents. Thankfully, we can be relatively sure that they're going to get theirs (this movie isn't clever enough to have the non-caring parents not fall victim to THE CHILDREN, while everyone who is loving and 'normal' gets killed).



Since these two are being so reprehensible (Janet's mother jokes about how a kidnapping would be so exciting) the Sheriff picks up their stash of weed and casually dumps it in the pool. He tells them to call him if Janet comes home.


Commentary: I liked the Sheriff, but now I might love him a little.


Scene 12: Out on the road, we see - presumably - one of the affected, missing daughters wandering down the middle of the road. When she hears a car approach, she quickly crosses over and hides in the woods. The car belongs to Jenny's dad and it has conked out again. As he gets out to pop the hood and bitch, we see the girl spying on him from the forest.

She very quickly heads for him (at least as quickly as THE CHILDREN can walk - we never see them running or power walking; it seems all they can manage is a stroll), but before she can come out of the woods the Sheriff's car approaches. The girl just as suddenly melts back into the dense forest, apparently only willing to attack one on one. The two men get the disabled vehicle to the side of the road and the Sheriff gives him a lift - but reports that he has one stop to make (another kid's parents, we could guess) first. Jenny's dad is saved, at least for the moment.


Scene 13: We see creepy killer kid come out of the forest across a roadway from another large house. The Sheriff and Jenny's dad just manage to miss seeing her as they turn up one of the side roads.


Commentary: We're going to see that the kids seem to have an instinct to return home first to burn up their families. What we never get any sort of explanation for is why - they're just monsters, that's why. At first I wondered if they were going to be some sort of energy vampire, but no. They just have a compulsion to burn non-mutated people to death.


Mutated girl (Ellen! We get a name) greets her mother with a big ol' hug. Good bye random mom.


Daddy hears the screams and comes out, seeing his wife fried. He backs away in horror and little Ellen follows calling for him with her lethal arms outstretched. Anyone want to place bets on whether he a) turns around and runs, thereby saving himself, b) turns around and runs, grabbing a weapon and beating his suddenly murderous spawn away, thereby saving himself or c) backs sloooooowwwwwwwly away, crying out in horror the whole entire time until his brat can finally put her loving arms around him?


Scene 14: Meanwhile, at the roadblock, bimbo-veggie-girl has ridden her bike to see Deputy and is insisting obnoxiously in cutesy-voice that he kiss her. The other two men from the General Store are there, smirking. She still seems absolutely unconcerned with the fact that her young brother is missing and the local law enforcement are worried that there has been a mass kidnapping of the kids from their bus. I cannot stand her.

She teasingly tells him she's leaving and goes off on her bike, making sure everyone gets an peek at the edges of her butt cheeks as local yocal 'komedy relief' team make lusty comments... blaahhhrgh. Killer kiddies, where are you? And, don't bother complaining about my referring to her as a bimbo either - anyone who doesn't worry about anything other than making out with her boyfriend when her brother is missing doesn't deserve any respect. Add to the fact that she insists on riding her bike in the shortest, tightest shorts in her wardrobe with platform heels and that equals 'bimbo' to me.

The locals tease Deputy Harry and press him on whether he's made it into her shorts, yet. I'm pleasantly surprised that Harry refuses to discuss it, showing some class. This little 'humorous' scene is intruded upon by a car carrying somebody who apparently thinks they're important, even though they're just in a Cadillac and not a limo. He insists on getting through the roadblock.


Commentary: Blah, blah - it's a time wasting scene. He name drops rich woman/guy (I think) and gets let through, hopefully adding to the body count.


Scene 15: The car carrying smug prick & driver comes across wedge-heeled bike rider and she gets a few of her negative points taken off by refusing to get out of their way, making them go around her. We follow wedge-heels, leaving smug prick & driver for another time. She bikes up to another enormous house with a basket of fresh vegetable.

Wandering around, she calls out for anyone home, but the interior of the home is strangely silent. The entire scene is pointless.


Scene 16: After her completely uneventful visit to the Peterson home, she returns to the farm on her bike. We get a POV from behind her father's tractor as somebody's gaze follows her. Her 'missing' brother, Paul, launches out from behind it to startle her, making her fall off her bike. He confronts her with arms outstretched in that 'hug me so I can cook you' way that all of THE CHILDREN have. At first she reacts like any sister who didn't give a crap that her brother was involved in an incident at the school bus by insisting he bugger off. But when he keeps up with the 'hug me' arm spread and the rictus grin, she gets freaked out.

She yells at him to stop teasing her and slaps him, but Paul's expression doesn't change and he keeps advancing toward her. She runs into a barn, complaining at him to 'stop it'. From outside, we hear her screams of gruesome death.



Scene 17: Oh, Wedge-heel used to be Suzie. So, Suzie's screams didn't go unnoticed by her father, who rushes into the barn. He sees Paul rocking her body back and forth, in a trancelike state. She's good-n-burned. Paul's father asks what in the world he's done in the way only a bad-actor can.

Paul notices he has another victim. We cut away feeling dirty and ashamed as Paul's young crotch walks into the camera lens....


Commentary:
Another trivia question! Do you think Paul's father a) turned around in horror and ran, escaping... b) grabbed the nearest object and beat his smoking fingered son off before making his escape... c) stood there and waited for his own embrace of death? I at least have to give it to the movie... they're unafraid to wipe out whole families.


Scene 18: Cutting away from Paul's disturbing crotch close-up, we rejoin the Sheriff and Jenny's dad as they arrive at his home. Sheriff is about to join Harry at the roadblock, but Jenny's dad insist he come in to speak with Cathy. He reluctantly agrees and while he calls in on the radio to Harry, Jenny's dad looks for his wife.

We get a (far too quick to be effective) near-scare when he opens a kitchen door and his very young son is there with his arms outstretched calling 'daddy' in the same way as THE CHILDREN. But, it's alright because Jenny's brother wasn't on the bus (mentioned earlier) so he's fine. Jenny's dad scoops him up in a big hug and is told that Cathy is mad at him. She's in her 'studio' napping, where it turns out she's an artist. This is where we find out she's pregnant and you may or may not remember her from the VW Bug, which passed through the yellow radioactive cloud, oh so long ago.

Husband tells Cathy that the Sheriff is there and they have to talk to her. She recognizes immediately that there is a problem, refreshingly, and sends Jenny's brother upstairs to brush his teeth and get ready for bed (even though it looks like it might be six o'clock at most). John tells her about Jenny missing along with the other Ravensback kids and how the bus was found near the 'old cemetery' empty.

The Sheriff joins them. While he's in the house, the General Store Lady tries to call him over the radio.


Scene 19: When Billy the Sheriff doesn't respond to Molly the General Store Busybody, Deputy Harry answers her call. She tells him that Dr. Gould's sister has called her hysterical because she's home alone (with her sister lying burned to a crisp in the cemetery with the bus driver). Harry leaves the check point guys to go and check on the doctor's sister.


Scene 20: Night has fallen now, and Harry passes both the bus and the cemetery on his way to the Gould's place. Unfortunately (I kind of like Harry) he sees three of THE CHILDREN in the road, also headed for the Gould place (why exactly it took Tommy this flipping long to head home, when all of the other CHILDREN seem to be making a bee line for home is left unacknowledged; Now true, he did already kill his aunt, but his mother has been sitting home this whole time waiting to be baked).

Harry reports to Molly that he's found the kids (well - three of them, anyway) and then gets out of the car (NO!) while they give him the pale, rictus grins and the 'hug me, hug me' arm stretch.



We cut away, but I think we can guess how this ended.


Scene 21: Sheriff Hart gets back to his car to be on his way, to find Molly trying to call him to let him know about Deputy Harry's finding THE CHILDREN. John overhears and full of relief let's his wife know, before joining the Sheriff to go over to the Gould place and get his daughter.


Commentary: Actually, right here I just want to point out that the adults with all of the screen time are actually handled well. None of them do stupid things (like the random adults who realize enough to understand something horrible and 'impossible' has happened to their kids, but stand there to be hugged to death anyway) and they remain likeable as a bunch (Janet's parents, excepted - even the comedy hick duo aren't so painful that I'd gladly kill them before THE CHILDREN can).

Also, as the Sheriff drives, we get the exact Mrs. Vorhees stalking music as in Friday the 13th. Composer Harry should really be embarrassed by how blatantly he recycled himself for two different movies.


Scene 22: Commentary: There is a nice image here that I wanted to give a compliment to. We get a long shot of the Sheriff's car, in the blackness, with his bubble light flashing and a full moon above that is just a beautiful shot. It also gives a nice feeling of menace for reasons I can't exactly explain... something about the empty, darkness surrounding the cop's feeble flashing light. I think more horror directors should include shots of a lonely police car traveling through a wide, otherwise dark scene.

But enough of my silly instinctual response, we have the Sheriff and John coming up on Harry's abandoned cruiser.

Billy worriedly orders John to stay in the car while he grabs the flashlight to check out the scene. He quickly finds Harry lying on the side of the road and he's been subjected to the hug of death, as we suspected. John, as every single character is ever is wont to do, doesn't stay in the car, but joins Billy over Harry's remains.

They rush back to the patrol car to go get Dr. Gould from her house (forgetting that her sister called Molly hysterical precisely because she didn't come home - along with Tommy).


Scene 23: They find the Gould residence in darkness and no one responds to their knocks. John is about to go in, but Billy complains about the doctor's Doberman and the fact it's not at all friendly (it barked up a storm at him back in the beginning when he first visited). John tells him that there isn't a dog in there (but I don't understand the argument and am not interested enough to try to hear what he said - it wasn't pointing out the obvious, that the dog isn't barking at the door). So, they go in to investigate.

It takes a bit too long to wander through the house before they finally discover the doctor's sister at her piano, where she's already been hugged to death. Billy rushes to the phone, only to discover that it's dead. John wonders about the kids, when they hear a small bang from inside a closet. When they open the door, with Billy's revolver aimed at it, the dog falls out - fatally burned, too. Before they realize that though, Billy fills it full of lead.


Commentary: Which is stupid. The kids left Ms. Button's corpse sitting at the piano, but took the effort to hide the dog's body??


They make their quick exit.


Scene 24: At the general store, Molly is quickly updated by the arrived panicked Sheriff. He also discovers that her phone is dead. Molly worries after her husband Fred (the bus driver, I think - and I find it darkly funny that he's still lying out in the cemetery with Dr. Gould through the entire movie). John takes a shotgun and shells from Molly and Billy tells her he's going to grab some shells for his guns. He tells her to lock up the store and not open the door for anyone as he leaves to rush John back to his home to check on his son and wife.


Scene 25: The car's headlights discover one of THE CHILDREN, Janet (she who's parents she should really be rushing to visit) standing in the middle of the road. Janet acts catatonic and the men put her in the back of the patrol car - could she not be a nuclear powered kid, or does she not pull the 'hug me' gesture because there are two of them and only one of her? If the latter, that would be consistent with John not being attacked from the woods earlier. I can't see Janet's fingernails to tell.

Anyway, they put her in the car and speed off, again delaying a return to John's home in favor of returning Janet to her family. And we do get a shot of Janet's nails... they're normal, raising questions about what the hell she's doing out there.


Scene 26: Billy sends John into the house to fetch her mother, raising the possibility that either one of them could get attacked. I worry about Janet in the back seat and I'm trying to remember if she was on the bus, if so, they're cheating by having her for no real reason not be transformed with the rest of THE CHILDREN, but I'll withhold a rant until I see where we're going.

In the house, John calls for Janet's mother, but it's too quiet. Despite all of the deaths, and that he's already just been in this exact situation over at the Gould place, and that he doesn't have the gun with him - he continues to not be suspicious or paranoid about walking through an oddly deserted seeming house calling for someone who isn't answering.

In the kitchen, he finds dinner still cooking on the stove top. John goes out the back door and see Jack sitting next to the pool. He accidentally knocks him off a chair in, and when he grabs the body, he sees that he has blistered, burn-face. Meanwhile, we keep getting cuts back to Billy in the patrol car, checking on the unconscious Janet....

We close in on Janet, who suddenly opens her eyes to stare at the Sheriff and yes, her nails now turn black.


Commentary: Rant time. I really don't like it when movies cheat and this is a cheat. There is not one damned reason why Janet would not already be one of THE CHILDREN if the rest of them changed almost immediately. It has been hours, and if she didn't get changed at the bus, then why wasn't she given the lovingly murderous hug at the same time as Fred the bus driver? There is no explanation for it, other than that they wanted the Sheriff to be menaced here unexpectedly (except it wasn't very unexpected). It also creates a problem in that we've already seen that THE CHILDREN's first stop is their own homes, not other people's. This is what we've been shown over and over with the other victims... it isn't playing fair to have Jackson dead (presumably the wife is somewhere... and what happened to the smug prick and his driver...) if Janet wasn't changed. Who visited them? And, why did one of the kids wander to Janet's house? Sorry, negative points apply.


John makes a mad dash around the house, where he does come across smug prick lying dead in the driveway, hidden before now by the battleship sized Cadillac. In the patrol car, Janet has now sat up while Billy is still looking anxiously out his window for signs of John's return with Mrs. Janet's Mom. Janet makes the sloooowww reach for the back of Billy's neck, but he notices and falls out of his driver's side door in a panic to get away from her.

With John's return, Janet takes off into the night (presumably to meet up with the other CHILDREN). John yells at Billy in a panic to get him home.


Scene 27: In the meantime, at John's house, his wife is puttering in the kitchen. Jennifer arrives at the gate and let's herself into the yard....


Scene 28: Meanwhile, back at the General Store, Molly is napping in her chair with her shotgun when she's awoken by a small voice. When she looks out of the window, she sees three of the missing children with their pale, rictus smile faces waiting for her.  She expresses relief to see them, of course, and rushes out into their waiting hugs... sorry, Molly. She screams... a rather long time... which is heard over the Sheriff's radio, despite no one being available to press down the transmit button at the store.



Scene 29: Back and John and Cathy's, she's impatiently trying to distract herself from worrying. She finally can't take anymore and digs behind her cabinet full of liquor for her hidden cigarettes, suggesting she had given up smoking for John - possibly when they found out she was expecting again.

Meanwhile outside, Jenny has arrived and tries the back door, but finds it locked. She goes around to the front, but as she opens the screen door, Billy and her father pull up. She quickly sneaks off. I don't expect her to go far.

John scares the crap out of his wife by rushing in, yelling her name. He asks after their son and takes off for his room. In the meanwhile Billy comes in.


Commentary: So, actually their arrival did save Cathy from Jenny ... for the moment. The front door was definitely unlocked.


While her husband heads upstairs, Cathy grills Billy on where her daughter is, but he has to report he doesn't know. He tries their phone, but they're out, too.


Scene 30: Upstairs, John finds his son sleeping comfortably. He steps over the toys on the floor (a nice touch) to close his son's bedroom window. Downstairs, Billy does that thing where you (before the cordless came along) hit those white pop up buttons on the cradle in an effort to get a dial tone (which never, ever, ever works - and doesn't now).

John rejoins them, rubbing her shoulders as he walks by (another nice moment). Cathy demands to be told what is going on. When John tries to hedge by telling her they haven't been able to locate Jenny, she tells him she already knows that much (nice moment, nicely acted) and John tells her that Deputy Harry is dead. Billy jumps in to lie, claiming he was shot.

John asks her to make some coffee, and when she tries to demand to know what they're not telling her, he yells at her. She goes off to the kitchen, while he looks guilty. He tells Billy he's afraid to tell her anymore. In the meanwhile, something on the television catches the Sheriff's attention and he turns up the sound. He finds out that there are reports of school age children missing throughout the 'tri-state' area.


Scene 31: In the kitchen, Cathy tearily works on making a pot of coffee. Jenny has returned to the back door (and I entertain that the rest of the movie will be Jenny wandering back and forth between doors - I find the thought vaguely amusing). She punches a hole in the screen door and unlocks it, but finds herself blocked by the back door. It is also locked.

As the menfolk watch the television special report and Cathy putters with the coffee making, Jenny returns to the yard outside of the kitchen window and stands staring into the house.

It doesn't take long for Cathy to see Jenny watching her. She runs to the back door to let her in. Jenny gives her the 'hug me' gesture and Cathy rushes out of the house for her. Fortunately for her, John and Billy came in already to look for the damned coffee she was supposed to be getting and they're able to stop her. Jenny, as we've seen the other CHILDREN do, rushes off into the woods to try again later.

The men rush off after her, while Cathy stumbles back to the house not understanding why her husband chased their daughter away.

We have to TBC this one....

Tags: review the children
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