The Kids Are Not Alright – The Children (1980)

Five kids go missing as they are infected by a toxic cloud from the local chemical plant, transforming them into zombie-like creatures whose touch can burn any living thing alive. That leads to many of the local townsfolk ending up dead, the sheriff looking for the missing kids and not knowing that they are responsible for what is happening and a confrontation between the two with an outcome that is all but uncertain.

The Children is an enjoyable outing for a horror film if a little bit of a slow burn as it begins as more of a mystery until it can no longer be called one. While it is frightening when one’s kids go missing and the movie plays that up for a good portion of its running length, Sheriff Hart and his friend John soon come to find the missing children and come to the realization that something is definitely wrong with them as a trail of bodies are found in their wake. The performances from the cast are good, mainly consisting of Gil Rogers as the erstwhile sheriff and Martin Shaker as John with the rest of the cast in bit parts that fill it out quite nicely. The suspense slowly but surely picks up as the sheriff goes from house to house, and director Max Kalmanowicz does a solid job building the tension throughout, the horror coming into focus until it can no longer be denied – that the children are responsible.

The special effects are decent, the people who burn up looking quite gruesome at times, though when it comes to the kids, the only thing that is different about them are their nails essentially and maybe a little makeup around the eyes. Surprisingly, at least during the last act of the film, there is a good bit of violence and most of it directed towards the missing children who have all shown up and are looking to kill. It is not often that one sees a grown man chop a child’s hands off, but it happens here and while slightly shocking, it definitely serves the larger narrative.

Altogether, while The Children is not the scariest of movies but it does have moments of horror that will keep the audience intrigued until the final scene which ends with a bit of hope for the future, at least for one family.

3 out of 5

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