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Joseph’s Review: There’s Something Wrong with the Children 


★★★3/4 out of ★★★★★

Directed by Roxanne Benjamin

Kids can be little devils, as fright-fare fanatics well know, and There’s Something Wrong with the Children does a fun, eerie job of further proving that adage to be true.

Aficionados of creepy-kids horror, get There’s Something Wrong with the Children on your need-to-see lists toute de suite. Director Roxanne Benjamin, working from a wickedly fun script from T.J. Cimfel and David White (Intruders, 2015), delivers a dizzying chiller that blends nastily entertaining adult drama with its terrifying tykes.

Margaret (Alisha Wainwright) and Ben (Zach Gilford) have been having personal and relationship issues, and although both claim that they don’t want kids, they get along quite well with young Lucy (Briella Guiza)  and Spencer (David Mattle), the children of their good friends Ellie (Amanda Crew) and Thomas (Carlos Santos), who are having problems of their own (it would be a shame to spoil what they are here).    

Scary DVDs! Woo!

During a weekend getaway in a pair of houses next to the woods, the group goes exploring and discovers a building in ruins that happens to have a very deep hole inside it. Spencer seems quite taken by the hole, and the next morning, after spending the night at Margaret and Ben’s place, the children go missing in the morning. Following a hunch, Ben goes looking for the youngsters, only to see them jump into the hole and die. Frantic, he heads back to the houses, only to find that the children are surprisingly alive — and quite different in demeanor than they were before . . . at least to him.

There’s Something Wrong with the Children plays for a while on the fact that only Ben seems to notice a change in Lucy and Spencer’s behavior, making him the more suspicious person as far as the other adults are concerned. The proceedings get deadlier, murkier, and trickier, adding up to an offering that will have viewers happily going along with its dramatic irony and well-played-upon fear-fare tropes along with its “What exactly is going on here?!?” elements.

Benjamin (Body at Brighton Rock [2019] and segments in Southbound [2015] and XX [2017]) directs with a fine flourish, ratcheting up the suspense nicely and crafting some highly impressive set pieces. The cast members all give terrific performances, and the technical aspects are all admirable. There’s some ambiguity at play, but it leaves you wanting to know more in a good way rather than a frustrating one. 

I found There’s Something Wrong with the Children to be a delightful surprise, and it’s a nifty shocker that is a fine way to kick off your 2023 scare-fare cinematic viewing.

Review by Joseph Perry

Paramount Home Entertainment and MGM+ will release There’s Something Wrong with the Children, from producing studios Blumhouse Television and MGM+, On Digital and On Demand on January 17, 2023 and on MGM+ from March 17, 2023.

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