Delivers in the end.
Director: David Cronenberg
Studios: Canadian Film Development Corporation
Starring: Art Hindle, Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Cindy Hinds
Tagline: They're Waiting... For You!
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: horror, thriller, sci-fi, psychological thriller, children
Scare score: B
Plot overview: Frank Carveth (Hindle) and his wife Nola (Eggar) deal with a custody battle for their five-year-old daughter Candice (Hinds) while Nola undergoes radical and intensive therapy - called psychoplasmics - under the care of Dr. Hal Raglan (Reed). As Frank begins to question the legitimacy and safety of psychoplasmics, a series of strange attacks begin on his in-laws and friends at the hands of small, mutant-like children. For Candice's sake, Frank and Dr. Raglan must search for answers by digging further into Nola's therapy and condition.
I must say that it took me a while to get into this movie. It certainly starts rather slowly, making me angrier at the potentially evil characters and creeped out by the general silence and slow movement, as well as the reserved nature of Candy. Creepy, blonde children will always have a place in the horror enterprise.
The acting was not the most attention-grabbing aspect of the film, but I did enjoy several performances. I thought Miss Hinds did very well for a young child in a demanding role. I was never bored with Candy even though the only emotions she really goes through in the film are quiet, sleepy, scared, or terrified. Although Hindle retains this cool, collected, masculine attitude throughout the majority of the film, I didn't think he performed poorly. He did feel distant, but not completely disconnected. Maybe a little too calm considering what was happening to him and his family. I really hated Dr. Raglan's character throughout. Reed's manner of speaking was so irritating, and while I heard him annunciating and salivating, I had to crank up my volume all the way to actually understand his lines. Still, I think he did a good job. Lastly, I enjoyed the creepy, built up anger on behalf of Miss Eggar. She portrays the troubled Nola very well.
As I mentioned before, I really thought this movie began too slowly. Then again, these days we are accustomed to the constant jumps and screams that modern horrors throw at us. Any who, I thought the whole bit in the kitchen was one of the scariest scenes I've seen in recent memory. Primarily because I was so confused at who was breaking into the house, and then I had so many theories running through my head. Once we see that creepy little face, I felt so much better about where the movie was headed. The disturbing, violent, and disturbingly violent psychosomatic children were such a great idea. I loved their face make up, and now I'm expecting to picture that face lurking in the dark corners of my apartment. When Frank confronts Nola towards the end, I was pleasantly surprised at how gruesome her revelation to him is. I was laughing so hard but with pleasure when we see what she's unconsciously (?) been up to and how the whole plot ties together. The birth scene was really clever, and I think it was so awesome that she begins to lick the bloody creature all over. So funny. All I could do was picture my queasy and easily scared friends and how they might react to that scene. Loved it.
I also appreciated the whole idea about psychosomatic products from the bizarre therapy. It was a cool idea that toyed with the popularity of psychology in the '70s, or so I imagine. Furthermore, the idea of an asexual, external birth for humans was equally disturbing and intriguing. Some lizards do it - why can't we? Am I right? Gross. Either way, I appreciated what the creative team was able to do with psychology without the need to shove it down our throats, as psychological thrillers often beat the dead horse with these explanations.
Final critique: There's not much more I can think of to say except that I was pleasantly surprised. I think they're making a sequel, which I feel like they're going to ruin, but heck I'll see it anyway. This is a pretty relaxed movie and the scenes that will get you uptight and nervous come toward the end. Recommended for all viewers, but those who scare easily might walk off with some nightmares - and maybe even a fear of little blond children.