Himika Akram reporter
When it comes to the horror movies, kids as the spooky characters are not something new. We have seen the same in movies such as The Exorcist, Pet Sematary, It, The Ring, Sixth Sense, Children of The Corn, Dark Water and so on. So, what’s new about this movie named There’s Something Wrong with The Children, directed by Roxanne Benjamin? The other horror movies usually do not include the mental health aspects and the complications that revolve around parenthood in their storyline; but this one did.
The movie shows two couples; who are friends as well. At one side we have Ellie and Thomas (Amanda Crew and Carlos Santos respectively) and their two children Lucy and Spencer (Briella Guiza and David Mattle). On the other side, there is an issueless couple Margaret and Ben (Alisha Wainwright and Zach Gilford).
Both families go to the woods for some rural relaxation during the vacation and rents a pair of adjacent cabins. Ellie and Thomas are going through a cold patch in their conjugal life. But both of them love their children and think they are the best thing ever happened to them. On the other hand, Margaret and Ben prioritized their career over parenthood and Ben has some prior mental health issues as well; even though he is totally fine now.
However, when both families started spending time hiking in the woods, they discovered an abandoned structure, which looked like a decommissioned fort and a very deep well in that place, which has stairs as well. Both children got very much interested in it, and shockingly, Spencer after looking into the well, starts referring it as “a place that shines.” This was kind of weird, because that well was so deep, and giving such a spooky and scary vibe, the adults did not even dare to look into it, whereas he was mentioning about a shine which he could see. But Spencer got too curious of it and about to jump into that well to see what’s inside. Right at that point, Ben managed to grab and stop him.
After coming back to their cabins that day, Ben and Margaret got along with Ellie and Thomas’ children. They decided to babysit Spender and Lucy that night, and give the other couple a break, to revive their good old chemistry which is lost somewhere now. By that time Margaret even starts thinking about their decision of not having kids, whether it was a decision she made alone, whether she gave space to Ben to express his feeling about it and so on. That time Spencer was continuously pushing Ben to take them to that “shinning place”. Under their watch, both the children disappeared.
Finally, when they reappeared, after lots of disturbing things happened before Ben’s eyes; both the kids started showing creepy and spooky kind of behaviors, a strange kind of energy. Such as, more physical strength; even they started speaking in a different language between themselves. Also, mae Ben did many unusual things that made the other adults around them started believing Ben’s mental issues are relapsing and he is being delusional. Gradually when Margaret and Ben both realized that these are not the same children they spent time with, by that time it was too late and too much damage had already taken place.
This movie has been criticized for including some brilliant ideas like how society forces parenthood on people how are not ready or do not even want it; how people with mental health are distrusted by the people around them and not given enough credit for the other achievements they have in their lives, troubled marriage etc. but not exploring them on the emotional level. It did not offer any valuable understandings or insights on the characters’ situations.
For example, what Ellie and Thomas did to fix their troubled marriage? They could have explored that aspect further. But instead of doing that, it seemed the movie was only trying hard to make sure, it really looks like full-course a horror film. The script also lacked depth, according to them. But in my opinion, this is meant to be a horror movie, not a theatrical drama on relationship. Who wants to listen to philosophical jargons or literary eloquence in a horror movie?! For me, this movie did not give any “jump-off-your-seat” kind of scary moments, but it had good storyline and it did a good job in connecting the decision of not being a parent. Which ultimately showcased how that led to Margaret’s choice of not embracing an extramundane yet comforting family life, and choosing the mortal yet adventurous life she always wanted to have.
The shining place Spencer was referring to, seems a place of some supernatural force who lives on human souls and then duplicated them, sent back to the earth to get more humans and the cycle repeated. But finally, what happened to those 2 protagonists, Lucy and Spencer? You need to watch the movie to find the answer. As a one-time, casual watch, it is a good choice and I would rate this as 6.8 out of 10. It was released on digital platforms on Jan. 17, of this year