Director: Andrew van den Houten
Rating: 3 / 5
I don't know much about Jack Ketchum, but from the two of his books I've read (one being Offspring), I know that I'm a fan. I was excited to see this film because I know, at least partially, how Ketchum writes, and I expected it to be disturbing, gruesome and wonderful. On the first two, I was right. Ketchum himself wrote the screenplay for this adaptation, and I honestly have no clue what went wrong.
We start off with a highly intoxicated woman arriving (or, more suitably, stumbling) at her house cursing the babysitter for leaving the lights on. When she stumbles into the kitchen, she falls down and notices blood on the floor. After she searches around for the source (which is right in front of her face), she finds the babysitter and her infant child brutally murdered. And the killers - a group of children - are waiting for her. She begins screaming, and is immediately taken care of.
The police that get involved call on a retired officer, because he's been through this before and he knows exactly what has happened. They begin searching, to no avail, through the surrounding woods to locate the family of cannibals. The cannibals are descendants of a man who disappeared in the 1800s and have been living in the wild. The "queen" of the cannibals believes that the ghost of the baby they killed is angry because its spirit is trapped, and that it is cursing them. She decides that they must get a new baby and drain it of its life (the blood) to set the spirit free.
They go hunting. They beat one of their family members to a bloody pulp and send her to a house nearby. She slams against the door screaming as if she is in trouble, and the man of the house lets her in and tries to help. She attacks and begins eating him, while the rest of the cannibals invade the house and take the man's wife prisoner. Their house guest grabs her son and the couples' baby daughter and flees through the window. They hide in a treehouse out in the woods for a while, but the woman eventually decides that they better leave and try to get help for her friend. They meet up with a male cannibal, the young boy runs (with the baby girl in his arms), and his mother is taken hostage.
And this is about the end of the excitement, if I can call it that. The rest is basically the little boy searching for his mom (he's left the baby in the treehouse), the police searching for the cannibals, and the two women being tied up in a cave.
I must say, though, that the "queen cannibal" actually is quite frightening. The cannibals have their own primitive language, and the woman's guttural growls and commands are chill-inducing. The cannibal children, while not quite frightening, are a bit creepy. Seeing children laughing while stabbing and/or eating another human being is disturbing in itself.
The gore in this one was adequate, but not quite unique. But, for a gore-whore like myself, it was quite entertaining. Which is the sole reason that I give this film three stars. If you're looking for disturbing images of children being murdered and murdering others, and plenty of body parts and organs being strewn about and chewed down, then you should check it out. If you're a Ketchum fan, check it out, though I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. If you're looking for a decent adaptation of a Ketchum novel, you might want to check out The Girl Next Door instead.
This wasn't great, and I probably won't remember anything about it in a couple of months, but it's definitely not the worst film I've ever seen. But proceed with caution, and weak stomachs beware.