Kids eh! Who’d have them? And, more importantly, if they turned into a giggling maniac who’d have the balls to kill them? While Narciso Ibáñez Serrador asked that exact question in Who Can Kill A Child?, Belarus’s Makinov attempts an answer with his remake of that little-seen 1970s shocker.
When a holidaying couple decide to head to a remote Mexican island before the birth of their first child all seems well. However, wandering the deserted streets it soon becomes clear the children on the island are up to something very disturbing. Soon both Francis (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Beth (Vinessa Shaw) find their idyllic retreat is more a nightmare vacation.
Of course all the way from Village of the Damned through to the likes of Eden Lake and The Children, kids have had the knack for sadistic tendencies and certainly Makinov makes good use of his opening half, filling his frame with eerie shots of deserted streets and the odd glimpse of something bloodied and unsettling to ignite some suspense.
However, things soon unravel when it becomes clear that Come Out and Play’s 18 certificate is a touch misleading. While there’s barely much to interest gore-loving horror fans, and not nearly enough to scare newcomers, only a committed performance from the leads stops the film unraveling in its formulaic final third.
So while certain scenes maintain the early sense of eerie unease (using dismembered body parts for a touch of arts and craft) Come Out And Play never quite escapes some clichés, whether that’s leading man Francis leaving his heavily pregnant wife alone for large parts of the film to go and ‘investigate’ or a denouement that fits the film’s tone but feels incredulous and a touch unsatisfying.
Quite why the townsfolk’s adults (surely numbering more than the children) don’t fight back or the possession’s starting point is never really explained meaning that Makinov’s film, while perfectly watchable as a bit of throwaway horror, doesn’t quite emerge as playful as that title suggests.