There's Something Wrong with the Children Review: Effective Buildup
Director Roxanne Benjamin strikes gold with Blumhouse & Paramount's There's Something with the Children with classic horror and buildup.
There's not that much as far as the mystery surrounding Blumhouse and Paramount's There's Something Wrong with the Children, as the title suggests. Sometimes everything is in the execution, and with director Roxanne Benjamin and the core cast, that's more than adequate. The film follows Margaret (Alisha Wainwright) and Ben (Zach Gilford) as they take a weekend trip out to the wilderness with their friends Ellie (Amanda Crew) and Thomas (Carlos Santos) and their two children, Lucy (Briella Guiza) and Spencer (David Mattle). After a hike through the woods and discovering a cave, Ben starts to notice something is not right.
'There's Something Wrong with the Children' – Classic Horror Executed Well
Written by T.J. Cimfel and David White, the plot draws inspiration from the likes of the anthology works of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone and Leslie Stevens' The Outer Limits. You have one cognizant person who's driven to near paranoia when those around him/her/them don't believe in the suspicions until it's too late. While you might ask, "Where's the fun of seeing this if you know what's going to happen?" Sometimes, it's all in the execution since most involved are too self-absorbed in their own respective bubbles. Neither the parent characters, children, nor even those outside act like caricatures as we're used to in horror.
The film works on its simplicity and talent. There's certainly no dependence on CG, and the practical effects used are minimal. Gilford, who's no stranger to the mysterious and macabre, with his stints on Criminal Minds and Mike Flanagan's The Midnight Club and Midnight Mass, does a wonderful job playing Ben as a man on the psychological brink. Wainwright, Crew, and Santos fit their respective roles. Other standout performances come from the younger actors in Guiza and Mattle, who are a very believable sibling duo. While the adults around them get the full range of emotions, the younger talent carried themselves in the vein of other child-centric horror classics like Children of the Corn (1984) and Village of the Damned (1995). Benjamin makes them work so well because the children never shift their demeanor even as the events of the film play out, as their consistency shows, given how much they want to "play."
Go see There's Something Wrong with the Children, not because of its predictability, but watch it because of how well it's executed. The film comes out on digital and on-demand on January 17th and on MGM+ on March 17th.