[14 October 2006]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Alicianne Del Mar has been hired by the Nordon family to serve as nanny for their youngest, oddest child, Rosalie. Seems the girl has never truly gotten over the death of her mother and spends far too much time in the local graveyard, remembering the funeral and communicating with her “friends.” Anti-social and abrasive, Rosalie threatens everyone around her, claiming she will call upon her cemetery pals to punish those who bother or have wronged her. No one really takes her seriously (she’s just so…strange) but perhaps they should.
For you see, Rosalie has psychic powers and the ability to reanimate the dead. She’s been hanging out in the boneyard working on bringing the local residents back to life. And it’s these flesh hungry fiends that Rosalie commands to do her evil bidding. After several of the local townsfolk turn up dead, all eyes fall upon this disturbed and destructive kid. Unfortunately, she has that undead army to protect her, and when Alicianne and Len (Rosalie’s older brother) try to escape, the ambulatory, angry corpses chase the hapless duo into an abandoned lumberyard. There, it’s a final showdown between the living dead, their intended victims, and the evil mastermind behind the mayhem…The Child.
For a low budget, even lower expectations exploitation horror movie, The Child is a surprisingly effective and incredibly creepy zombie workout. The movie mingles aspects of the classic Dead films and American Gothic style horror with references to other “evil children” films like The Bad Seed and Village of the Damned. The small budget and atmospheric locations bring an aura of authenticity and naturalism that an overly produced Hollywood film cannot create. While Rosalie Cole (in the role of…Rosalie?) is a little dull (she comes across as more spoiled than scary, more amateur than menacing), the rest of the cast is first rate, selling the terror and terrorizing seriously and realistically.
There is a feeling of uneasy suspense and foreboding created, in both the sets and direction. The Nordons live in a very spooky and atmospheric house, and there’s a scene during a blackout that really heebies up the jeebies. In addition, the final showdown between little Rosalie’s living dead “friends” and our heroine/hero is also exciting and terrifying. Thankfully, there is blood and gore aplenty, especially in said climax and the scene where the groovy ghoulies slaughter an old neighbor woman. Anyone expecting a cheap, cheesy slice of drive-in style dreck should walk away from The Child with their bloodlust sated and their reanimated corpse craving satisfactorily quelled. While not up to the standards set by someone like George Romero, or even some of those pus loving Italians like Fulci, this is still a solid, claret spewing creep fest.