Spooky, spooky, spooky...I'm drawn to spookiness. You should have some idea of what I'm talking about, but if you don't (goddamn slacker), I'm illuminating a specific vibe. Conveniently, Spookies has that vibe. If you know me at all, you know that I fucking love Spookies. The Universal monster movies also have that vibe, that unaccountable fetor that creeps into your pores and makes you feel like a kid staying up late to watch scary stuff on television. Man, 1977's The Child is flush with that full-flavored balm. Plus, it's from the mid-70's! It's built from the same parts that worked Alien and Martin into a lather. I'm not even a big fan of Martin, but that's beside the point.
This low-budgeter was released under a mint of disparate titles. Everything from Zombie Child (my personal favorite) to Kill and Go Hide to Jurassic World. Okay, I may have fabricated one of those titles, but I'm not telling which. So a caretaker/babysitter is hired to tend to a little girl who has repelled other workers in the past. Why? How? The sitter (let's call her Alicianne...since that's her name) can't seem to find out, as no one will tell her. She attempts to make nice with the gruff father figure, but that goes nowhere faster than a pitbull terrier chasing its own uterine wall. The little girl (we shall call her Rosalie...for no particular reason) is a strange bird who visits her mother's grave every night. At midnight.
You see, from time to time, Rosalie makes reference to her "friends." We eventually find out - drats, I'm conflicted. Should I spoil it? I'm not sure it's a real spoiler. Fuck it. We discover that the titular child has preternatural powers and that she controls a cabal of zombies. That's right; this is a zombie flick! Who knew? I didn't, and to be honest, they don't make or break The Child. It's all in the atmosphere. The ever-minacious fog, the stranded locale, the manifold shots of the moonlit sky...speaking of which, can we dish on the day-for-night photography? Wait, why am I asking for permission? It's my review. I'll dish on whatever I want, motherfucker!
I could never tell what time of day it was because the wild yonder was usually the same shade. That's a con, I'm afraid. Another con would be the egregious dubbing, which put a sizable dent in the acting. These weren't Oscar contenders to begin with, but all of the dialogue sounds stilted. And yes, all of it is dubbed. Lucky us! If you can defer to the lethargic exposition, the rest is gravy. The listless pace didn't bother me. Again, it's all in the atmosphere. I was too busy swimming in the unearthly mood to lose patience. Sure enough, the payoff was worth my while. The last twenty minutes or so brought The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to mind, what with the screaming and the rotting cadavers.
The Child isn't perfect, but as a sheer horror shill, it hits the spot. I'm already planning an October viewing. Well, there isn't much perspicuous planning involved. I will simply enjoy it. You should, too!
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 9:37 PM