The Children (2008 film)

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The Children
Children film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tom Shankland
Produced by Allan Niblo
James Richardson
Written by Tom Shankland (screenplay)
Paul Andrew Williams (story)
Starring Eva Birthistle
Hannah Tointon
Stephen Campbell Moore
Music by Stephen Hilton
Cinematography Nanu Segal
Edited by Tim Murrell
Screen West Midlands
BBC Films
Aramid Entertainment
Barnsnape Films
Distributed by Vertigo Films (UK)
Icon Productions (Australia)
Ghost House Underground (US)
Release date
  • 5 December 2008 (2008-12-05) (UK)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Children is a 2008 British horror thriller film directed by Tom Shankland and starring Eva Birthistle and Hannah Tointon.[1]


Casey, a rebellious teenage girl, is travelling with her mother Elaine, her stepfather Jonah, and her two younger half-siblings, Miranda and Paulie, to spend the New Year holiday at the secluded home of Elaine's sister, Chloe. Chloe, her husband Robbie, and their two young children, Nicky and Leah, welcome their visitors. Shortly before arriving, Paulie begins vomiting, which the adults believe is due to travel sickness.

As the night progresses, Nicky and Leah also begin to show symptoms of an illness. Leah's vomit has strange bacteria in it. As everyone goes to bed, the family cat, Jinxie, goes missing. Casey, back at the woods, makes plans with her friends to escape and attend a party when she hears Jinxie snarl. However, she is not able to locate the cat. By the next day, all of the children have become infected. At dinner, Miranda becomes violent, scratching Chloe and ruining the food. While Jonah tries to comfort Miranda upstairs, Robbie takes the rest of the children outside to play in the snow. Nicky places a garden rake in Robbie's path while he is sledding, which slices open Robbie's head on impact. The children scream, drawing the attention of Casey, Jonah, Elaine, and Chloe. Elaine phones an ambulance, but Robbie quickly dies from his injuries.

Paulie attacks Jonah with a knife and runs off before luring Elaine to a climbing frame and breaking her leg. Casey rescues her and they seek refuge in the greenhouse which is attacked by the kids. Paulie attempts to kill them but is fended off by Casey who convinces Elaine something is wrong with the kids. Chloe finds Robbie’s body has been dragged into the children’s play tent where it has been mutilated with toys, she is then attacked by Leah and is saved by Casey. Chloe panics, blaming Casey for what is happening before fleeing into the house while Casey returns to the greenhouse and saves Elaine who in turn saves Casey by killing Paulie. Jonah finds Paulie dead. The group enter the house where Chloe accuses Casey and Elaine of going insane when Casey says Elaine killed Paulie to save her. Jonah and Chloe abandon them in anger and leave to find Chloe’s kids. Casey starts barricading the house and Jonah and Chloe are separated in the woods, Chloe is attacked by her kids and stabbed in the eye with a crayon, killing her. Casey finds Miranda beating the dead cat in the bedroom and attacks her; Jonah is tricked by Miranda into believing that Casey attacked them, and he locks Casey in the bedroom before leaving with Miranda in the car. In the house, Elaine is attacked by Leah and Nicky but is unable to hurt them due to them being kids.

Casey breaks out of the bedroom and kills Nicky, saving Elaine while Leah flees into the woods. Casey and Elaine flee the house and find Jonah dead by Chloe's crashed car. As Casey investigates Jonah's body, Miranda suddenly attacks her. Elaine rams Miranda with the car killing Miranda and saving Casey. Elaine noticeably observes Casey vomiting before Casey gets in and Elaine drives away from the house. As they drive, various infected kids, including Leah, emerge from the woods. As Elaine panics, Casey starts staring into space like the infected children did and the film ends leaving the audience wondering if Casey has become infected.


Critical response[edit]

The film opened to generally positive reviews from UK critics. The Guardian writer Phelim O'Neill said, "the violence is skilfully enough executed to make you think you see much more than you actually do and the fundamentally disturbing and creepy aspects about such random and unpredictable child-centric mayhem are always present, no matter how ludicrously intense and darkly humorous things get".[2] Time Out gave the film four out of five stars and said "This taboo-shattering movie taps in to primal fears about the unknow-ability of children, its blood-stained virgin snow and insidious terror recalling cruel fairy tales and ‘demon child’ movies such as The Omen."[3]

In the United States reviewers were equally positive. Bloody Disgusting said "The Children has it all and is guaranteed to please even the hardest to satisfy horror fan."[4] IGN said of the film "The Children is a flawlessly mounted horror film that knows exactly how to scare its audience."[5]

As of February 2011, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 79% approval rating based on 14 reviews.[6]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at no.10 in the UK, grossing only £98,205 at 132 cinemas. In the weeks after its release, the film dropped to no.13 and then again to no.22.


  1. ^ "Tom Shankland Talks The Children". DreadCentral. 
  2. ^ O'Neill, Phelim (5 December 2008). "Film review: The Children". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2008. 4/5 stars
  3. ^ Floyd, Nigel (2008-12-02). "The Children". Time Out. Retrieved 2017-10-09. 
  4. ^ Miska, Brad (2009-10-06). "The Children (The Day)". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2017-10-09. 
  5. ^ Shaffer, R.L. (2009-10-06). "The Children DVD Review". IGN. Retrieved 2017-10-09. 
  6. ^ The Children at Rotten Tomatoes

External links[edit]