M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Three of my decade-long Retro-Best in Horror recap Countdowns begins officially on October 1, 2012 and goes through September 30, 2013. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2012 and September 30, 2013 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

March 22, 2013 and available on digital download, On Demand and BluRay/DVD here!

COME OUT AND PLAY (2013)

Directed by Makinov
Written by Juan José Plan (original story), Makinov (screenplay)
Starring Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Vinessa Shaw, Daniel Giménez Cacho,
Find out more about this film on Facebook here!

I’ve heard of Juan José Plan’s 1976 Spanish film, EL JUEGO DE NINOS (WHO CAN KILL A CHILD) before, but had never seen it. Knowing it was about a city of children who suddenly turn on every adult in the city, it felt too familiar with other kids on a rampage films such as THE BROOD, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, THE CHILDREN, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, EDEN LAKE, F, and others. Now that I’ve seen COME OUT AND PLAY, I feel the undeniable urge to go back and watch WHO CAN KILL A CHILD, the film COME OUT AND PLAY was remade from.

COME OUT AND PLAY feels like CHILDREN OF THE CORN set in the tropics with a dash of Gareth Edward’s MONSTERS thrown in. Francis (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and his pregnant wife Beth (Vinessa Shaw) are getting away from their work and kids to South America before the baby arrives. Though they are taken with the culture, they want something a bit more relaxing and serene and rent a boat to go to a more secluded island. Arriving on the island, they are greeted by smiling children on the docks, but as they venture further into the island, they find no adults at all and kids slinking in the background. Soon the kids show their true colors and, packed into an angry mob, they pursue Francis and Beth across the island and back.

What makes this film work so effectively is triplefold. The actors, Moss-Bachrach and Shaw, are very talented and you believe that not only are they very much in love, but they are also very much afraid of this predicament they have found themselves in. Moss-Bachrach has a Michael Caine quality about him. Maybe it’s because I recently rewatched THE ISLAND, but the way he sweatily and frantically runs through the empty dirt streets made me think of the thespian.

Director/writer Makinov does a good job of peppering in the horror early on, and if you didn’t know this was a horror film to begin with, you might be surprised at the way the kids perch themselves on porches and rooftops, reminiscent more of Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS than most of the killer kids films that would more obviously come to mind. The film has a gritty feel to it, as if the camera (and the viewer by association) is rolled around in the dirt and sand, giving this a more grindhousey experience (a much more interesting effect than the computer grindhouse effect one often sees in low budget grindhousers). The washed-out way everything looks again adds to this feeling, as if this was a film uncovered from a different era of cinema.

I mentioned Gareth Edwards’ MONSTERS mainly because, as with that film, Makinov takes full advantage of the environment this film was shot in. From the labyrinthine houses to the dirt roads to the rocky beaches, this is a beautiful island looked at through an insidious lens. There’s a feel of danger even when the camera is focused on the most gentle of things, a theme which reflects the concept of killer children as well.

The sheer ballsiness and brutality of not only the kills but the violence in general is awe-inspiring. This is not a film that holds back, and though Makinov does some camera sleight of hand so that the kids don’t actually get too bloody, this trickery works most of the time resulting in a series of seamless acts of violence crescendoing into an ending which reverberated hard. Though I was shocked by the ending of this film, I was slightly put off by the end credits as Makinov’s name is shoved in our faces over the last image, forcing us to acknowledge his contributions as writer, director and editor. Though this is a bawdy move, I can see how it might be off-putting and self-indulgent to some. Still, Makinov has made a damn fine film with COME OUT AND PLAY and he should be proud of it.

Asking tough questions, delivering fantastic performances, and showing us some gritty and harrowing horror, COME OUT AND PLAY is a harrowing race from beginning to end. There are those who seem to really dislike this film as it is a remake of WHO CAN KILL A CHILD?, but I feel Makinov offered up a thrilling remake that may not be as intense as the original, but it still delivers the goods.




THE 2012-2013 COUNTDOWN!


#29 – COME OUT AND PLAY
#30 – THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH
#31 – I DIDN’T COME HERE TO DIE


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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