Review: Come Out and Play / Cert: 18 / Director: Makinov / Screenplay: Makinov / Starring: Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Vinessa Shaw, Daniel Gimecho Cacho / Release Date: May 6th
When holidays go bad, they can go really bad. Young marrieds Francis (Moss-Bachrach) and Beth (Shaw) decide to enjoy a final luxury vacation before their lives change forever with the imminent arrival of their firstborn. They head for a remote island off the coast of Mexico but they find that their idyllic, sun-drenched destination is completely deserted… apart from a few curious children who quickly run off when approached. Francis and Beth explore the island’s town and finally come across an injured old man who is brutally stabbed and beaten to death – there’s a nasty rock-on-head moment – by a group of cheering children. Not unnaturally, Francis and Beth make a run for it and before long the initially-innocuous children, now vicious cannibalistic killers, are bearing down on them and the couple have to face the terrible dilemma of how to seriously defend themselves against a group of young, fresh-faced kids. Maybe they should have just stayed at home.
In this remake of the Spanish-language cult classic Who Could Kill a Child? (1976), enigmatic director Makinov has crafted a striking, off-kilter thriller which grips and enthrals despite the frustrations of a script which underdevelops its central characters and offers no explanation either for why the couple are so desperate to reach this particular holiday island in the first place or why the children are behaving like homicidal maniacs. But the film looks sensational, the brilliant sunshine and bleached architecture of the town contrasting with the inexplicable violence of the children who prowl its streets. Makinov ratchets up the tension as Beth and Francis try to find a way off the island and the central conceit of possessed, murderous children takes a turn for the deeply unpleasant when Beth starts to give birth. Francis’ final confrontation on the quayside, where he finally and fatally fights back against the children, is still uncomfortable viewing notwithstanding the violence the kids themselves have inflicted.
Despite the simplistic one-tone storyline and the occasional idiocy of the two leads, Come Out and Play is a stylish entry into a long line of ‘killer kids’ movies (2008’s underrated British effort The Children springing most readily and recently to mind) and especially if the original hasn’t crossed your radar, it’s likely to shock and unnerve in equal measure. Surprisingly good.