Review: CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT

ChildrenOfTheNightcoverIt is remarkable how horror movies can delve into different themes, utilizing horror tropes to leave audiences with an emotional response. Guillermo Del Toro is famous for making great horror movies that aren’t necessarily scary, but hold a special place in the genre for his storytelling techniques and engrossing atmosphere. He loves to incorporate children in his films, not as some marketing gimmick, but as someone that audience cares for and provides an alternate point of view we aren’t used to. CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT is a movie that has children both as the monster and the emotional attachment for our lead character.

Alicia is a young journalist who seems emotionally withdrawn in her relationships, utilizing her work ethic as a means of seclusion. She is invited to Limbo, a secluded orphanage for children who supposedly have a Hungarian strain of photosensitivity that forces the children to only come out at night.  The children have a tendency to claim to be a lot older than they are and take an uncomfortable interest in sexuality. Another strange thing is Alicia seems to recognize the children and is not sure why, questioning if she’s ever met them before. When she asks them about this, they simply stare at her, sometimes with a smirk as if they enjoy taunting her mind with a dirty secret. It is very obvious that they are vampires, but this is one of those movies where the lead only has logic until something crazy happens.

It is noted early on that adult men clad in black are taking the children when they wander off and killing them, Van Helsing style. The irony here is that these children became vampires themselves via careless adults who took advantage of them, causing them to be orphans and taken care of in one of many Limbos across the world. This leads to Alicia being caught in the middle and her evolved compassion for the children causes her to choose a side she never dreamed of.

In this particular Limbo, headmistress Erda acts as a mother figure to the children and she’s probably the most interesting character in the film. Actress Ana Maria Giunta understands the fantasy aspect of the script and brings the humor necessary to such a serious role without making a parody of herself. Her mannerisms are theatrical and her interactions with both Alicia and the children are fun to watch.

There’s a slight twist in the vampire mythology in CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT involving one of the children who is apparently the great grandson of Count Dracula, holding a strong presence (and control) over Limbo. Sometimes his demeanor comes off intimidating, but the actor has moments that are extremely corny and can easily take you out of the movie. He has the perfect look, but children are a tricky commodity in horror and have to be utilized correctly to make things work. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (and its remake, which I also love) is a perfect example of children in horror done right, especially when it involves vampires.

CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT is not a perfect movie and its budget limitations hold the movie back from viewers getting lost in its world, but the execution is pretty remarkable and I wasn’t ever bored. Definitely give it a chance if you like offbeat foreign horror or are seeking an original take on the vampire mythos.