Ok, so Slashermas has kind of run into Three Kings Day-ermas. It’s run longer than I meant to. It’s my fictitious holiday and I can make it last as long as I want to. I’m not even sure if the movie I watched, Who Can Kill a Child?/¿Quién puede matar a un niño? even qualifies as slasher. Still, it’s a movie I’ve always wanted to see so why not watch it now?
The movie opens up with documentary footage from various wars. There’s footage from the Holocaust, the India and Pakistan War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the main theme is how children always suffer the most during warfare because of the follies of adults. Everything I’ve found points to this being real footage. And it made me feel really gross because I’m not sure you should use real footage of real people suffering to make a point in your fake movie about fake people suffering. I get why it was done, I’m just not sure if I’m cool with it.
On a side note, have you ever read the Parental Guidelines on IMDB? I like to look up the goriest movies I can think of and read the guidelines, just to see what people noted. This is what a user named rccayen noted about Who Can Kill a Child?;
There is a long sequence of war footage at the beginning of the film. During this, a few women and children are briefly shown nude or partially nude. The video quality of this footage is very grainy, so not much is visible.
No mention of the fact that this is actual Holocaust footage, actual children starving in Nigeria. I don’t know who this person is but I award them the internet Oscar in Missing the Point.
Anyway, the movie follows a couple, Tom (Lewis Fiander) and Evelyn (Prunella Ransome) on a trip through Spain before Evelyn gives birth.
They’re eager to leave the noisy village to go to the isolated island of Almanzora. Things are strange when they get there, though. The businesses are all empty. Things are left as though all the grown-ups just disappeared. Businesses are open but no one’s there and chicken is burning on the rotisserie. Plus, they keep receiving weird phone calls at the boarding house, a woman speaking softly in a foreign language. There are lots and lots of kids around but no grown ups.
Tom finally gets a clue of what’s happening when he sees a young girl viciously beating an old man with his own cane. He angrily confronts her and she responds with laughter.
Oh my god, she has the face of an elf and she just beat a man to death.
He carries the old man’s body and places him on some hay. He turns around and the body is gone. Tom sees where the kids have taken it and they’re using it as a piñata and a scythe is the stick.
Tom and Evelyn finally find an adult at the boarding house. He tells them that at eleven-thirty last night all the children paraded through the village and slaughtered the adults. He saw them kill his wife but didn’t raise a hand against them because, in his words, “Who can kill a child?”
The rest of the movie is basically Tom and Evelyn’s attempt to escape the island. You can tell that they don’t want to hurt the children but they’re basically desperate to escape the island. The couple ends up barricaded in the police station. Tom reluctantly shoots a boy who threatened them with a revolver.
Evelyn starts to feel and pain and realizes that she’s not going into premature labor, that the unborn baby is attacking her from within. Earlier in the day, a girl from the island had touched her stomach and her baby was becoming like the kids on the island.
Tom has nothing left to lose. With his wife dead, he mows down a bunch of the children with a submachine gun.
I don’t want to give away the ending because it’s pretty much perfect.
This movie is moving and upsetting. I enjoyed it but I don’t think I could watch it often. The documentary footage is upsetting but I know they were going for a Mondo Cane effect.
What I liked about the movie is that I really had no idea who to root for. I really liked Tom and Evelyn but I also liked the kids too. Maybe it’s because I’m not that far out of childhood–I’m only thirty, consarn it!–but I know what it’s like to see the world fall to shit because of grownups and their wars. Although the children’s solution isn’t very good because they’re using the violence that was used against them and because all children become grownups.
This movie is unsettling and creepy and not just because of the subject matter. There’s the “la la laaaa” music. There’s just the real creepiness of walking into a room full of silent children and they’re all just looking at you. This movie is a slow-burner. It takes about forty-five minutes for the real action to happen but it’s worth it. The director, Narcisso Ibáñez Serrador, skillfully develops characters and builds tension as the couple and the audience realizes that something is very wrong.
For me, the scariest part is when Evelyn realizes her baby is trying to kill her. I never, ever want to have children. The idea of sharing my body with anything is anathema. In Alien, you expect to die from a chest-burster because it’s all foreign and phallic and creepy. Babies are supposed to be benign. This whole movie just turns these notions of right and wrong upside down.
I recommend this movie but it’s really not a fun-times slasher movie.