Cinedigm // 2012 // 86 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // July 19th, 2013
Moviegoers shouldn't play with children playing with dead things.
Francis (Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Lola Versus) and his enceinte wife Beth (Vinessa Shaw, The Hills Have Eyes) are sick and tired of Carnival and want to get away from the noise and chaos for something a bit more tranquil. They learn of an intriguing island off the South American coast and rent a boat to try and find it. When they do, they notice something odd. First, most of the buildings and properties seem deserted. Second, they are welcomed by a group of glum wee ones and often spy the occasional child scampering around. Finally, they can't seem to find any adults anywhere. As luck would have it, they've arrived the day after all the children went bonkers and started slaughtering their moms and dads. Either possessed or just really pissed off, these ankle biters have tasted blood and they want more -- specifically, Francis and Beth's.
Let's face it, there's only one truly great killer kid movie. No, it's not Children of the Corn, or The Children, or Village of the Damned, or Orphan. All of those are fine, but for the ultimate in underage terrors, nothing beats Troma's terrific Beware! Children at Play. Containing the classic (and supposedly, controversial) moment when angry adults dispense of dozens of pre-adolescents in some of the goriest ways possible, it practically begs the viewer to be angst-ridden and offended (good old Lloyd Kaufman and crew). Come Out and Play has no such similar ambitions. Instead, it wants to be a wonky combination of cautionary tale, parenting allegory, and straight ahead horror flick. While the location is excellent (and creepy as Hell) and the notion of insane killer kids enticing, the overall result is 80 minutes of slow burn set-up-and we do mean SLOW-for a finale that almost fulfills the film's multiple macabre promises. Almost.
One of the clever parts of this narrative is having an otherwise healthy, capable of kicking kid booty protagonist saddle with a spouse ready to pump out another puppy at any given moment. This gal is so preggers that she literally drags the movie down with her numerous physical limitations and elephantine belly. She's also the beneficiary of an obvious bit of predictable plotting that even the most ardent splatter fan will see a few dozen miles away. Single named director Makinov (how pretentious) does a nice job of setting up the scenarios, but the minute the movie moves away from Francis and Beth, it gets bogged down in unnecessary artiness. Do we really need to see the kills from the victims POV? Does it really add to the fear factors to see novice thespians pretending to be blood thirsty grade schoolers? At least the anonymous filmmaker keeps the original novel's (called The Children's Game) darker themes. The first film version, Who Can Kill a Child?, is considered a cult classic. Come Out and Play probably won't earn a similar status.
Still, this is a novel attempt at an obvious cinematic staple. The unholy brat has been given viewers fits since Rhoda Penmark taught Damien and other devil children how to be bad. The backdrop is unique, given its sunny climes and heat stroke atmosphere, and the adult acting is fine. Similarly, we can get behind the last act slaughter since we've put up with a bunch of problematic pacing issues throughout. Some will knock the movie for being a near shot-for-shot update of the 1976 original. Others will tune out after less than an hour, wondering if the bloodshed is ever going to arrive. Come Out and Play may have been a labor of love for its first time filmmaker (who some have claimed is really nothing more than Eli Roth in disguise), but it's a trial for those of us who enjoy our terror energetic, not loose and languid. A good attempt. A mediocre result.
That being said, the tech specs are really outstanding. The Cher of the cinema, Makinov, is also his own director of photography here and his framing and composition (and the capturing of both) are excellent. The 2:24:1 1080p encode offers up a nice balance between the bright exteriors of the island and the darker, spookier aspects of the interiors. Colors are saturated without going overboard and the whole film feels professionally produced and polished. As for the aural element of the release, the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio mix is excellent. While there is no real use of the many channels (this is a deserted island for the most part), there is a real feeling of space and sonic placement in the presentation. We get crystal clear dialogue and a very spooky (and sometimes, intrusive) score. Added content included a six minute making of, interviews with the leads, a couple of deleted scenes, and a trailer. Nothing really that great.
If you're in the right mood and don't mind seeing immature actors wailing on adults with wild-eyed abandoned (and more important, visa versa) you might want to give Come Out and Play a try. It's a well put together film, though thanks to the "who is it?" question at the center of its creation, the backstory of its making may end up being more interesting than anything up on the screen.
Not guilty, but don't expect a classic. It's a basic B-movie, nothing more or
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Scales of Justice
* 2.20:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scene