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‘Child Eater’ (review)

Produced by Perri Nemiroff, Luke Spears
Written and Directed by
Erlingur Óttar Thoroddsen

Starring Colin Critchley, Cait Bliss,
Melinda Chilton, Kara Durrett,
Brandon Smalls, Jason Martin,
Andrew Kaempfer, Dave Klasko,
Hilary R. Walker, James Wilcox

 

Writer/director Erlingur Thoroddsen expands his short film, Child Eater, to feature length to mixed results.

The film opens well, with a young girl stumbling through the woods with a horrific surprise gripped in her hand.

We then cut forward 25 years to the present day. Young adult Helen is coerced by her father, the local Sheriff, into babysitting the son of a friend.

The boy is Lucas, who has recently lost his mother and firmly believes in the existence – and imminent threat – of urban legend Robert Bowery.

Bowery, it is claimed, had a rare eye disease and to combat its regressive nature, would kidnap local children and eat their eyes.

Pretty cool and gruesome setup. Thoroddsen does a nice job of tapping into childhood fears by adding a facet to the urban legend that Bowery hides out in the children’s bedroom closet, waiting until they are asleep to take his prize.

Lucas’ closet is used to very creepy effect here, and the young actor who plays him, Colin Critchley, certainly appears terrified.

Cait Bliss is also quite believable as the initially annoyed babysitter who is determined to be the boy’s savior when shit goes down.

Jason Martin, with the help of a capable make-up team, does a nice job as the titular villain.  Efforts are made to create a new horror icon, but the movie falls a little short in enough ways that it’s unlikely to happen.

I could be wrong, as Child Eater is receiving a lot of love from indie horror fans and critics.  But for me, after a strong opening, it gets bogged down in the midsection and seemed to run out of steam well before the end credits.

The action, while almost non-stop in the final act, mostly feels monotonous and uninvolving.  Gore fans should enjoy some of the nastiness here, but there are moments when the eye damage looks a bit dodgy.
Overall, the tone of the film was more one of unpleasantness as opposed to horror.  There are some scares and some creepy moments, but they’re not sustained, alas.

And while there is certainly nothing wrong with a straightforward horror flick, I was hoping in vain that there would be some interesting twist, some dollop of satire or social commentary or psychological insight to add another layer, a la the superficially similar but deeper and more interesting (and very underrated) The Tall Man.

While not entirely successful, Child Eater has just enough going for it to juuust recommend it to diehard horror fans. And I would hardly be shocked if Thoroddsen and many of his cast and crew move on to better things.

Child Eater arrives on HD Digital, On Demand and DVD on March 28th.

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