Sunday, January 17, 2010

Killer Kids!

Devil Times Five - 1974 - Dir: Sean McGregor & David Sheldon (uncredited)
Location: The Comfort of My House

The trailer for this film caught my eye when I saw it for the first time at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin a few years ago in Austin. Then I noticed it was on one of the wonderful 42nd Street Forever trailer compilations from Synapse Films and it piqued my interest. The film concerns a group of five very disturbed sociopathic children who escape from their transport van in a very rural snowy area. They make way to house where three couples are there and proceed to fool them into taking them in before the killing begins.

Killer kid movies are always fun. There is just something extra creepy about murders being committed by beings most people consider to be innocent and incapable of such atrocities. What really works with this film is how different the kids act about their crimes. Damien from The Omen was a very odd kid and seemed that way all the time. Other movies with creepy children seem normal to people but have their dark side when alone like in The Good Son or even the recent film Orphan. When the little murderers do their business here they might have a flash of madness on their face but they still act like kids. They play with the dead like dolls and skip around laughing with the others while dragging a body through the snow. This is pretty much the only part of the film to stand out in a positive way.

The rest is rather standard 70s fare, but there are a few annoyances along the way. Before some of the killings there is a ridiculous slow-motion used that just seems to take forever and add no real suspense. Many of the musical queues and delivery by the actors is done in a very over-the-top manner, almost as if this is all supposed to be some very dark black comedy. For me this just doesn't work and makes everything feel kind of uneven and takes away from the horror. Trying something like this needs to keep that delicate balance for being unsettling yet funny while not turning into a farce.

These problems are pretty minor overall and there are a couple of sequences that are very interesting and stylistic. If you want to give it a go, pick up the DVD here.

Alternate Titles:
- Peopletoys
- The Horrible House on the Hill
- Tantrums


btsjunkie said...

Somehow I have seen this movie twice in 35mm. The Drafthouse LOOOVES this movie. It's interesting... once, I think. I do remember the Terror Tuesday screening being fun because it was later and I was pretty drunk when I showed up. But yeah, killer kid genre = awesome but I think THE CHILDREN (2009) pretty much perfected it.

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