Horror remakes get a bad rap, often sight unseen, and while the premature concern is usually proved correct it’s not entirely uncommon for a good one to slip on through. Okay fine, it’s pretty damn uncommon, but it does happen once in a while and you need look no further than…
the upcoming Evil Dead reboot to see a solid example of a film that takes the (very) basic story from the original and then makes it into something new. But that’s the exception as usually the remakes capture plot details while forgetting to infuse their film with life of its own.
Come Out and Play falls into this latter category as it remakes (the far better titled) Who Can Kill a Child? but replaces that film’s grimy charm with somewhat slick and by-the-numbers thrills.
Most of the deaths occur before our leads reach the island, but a few folks, both adult and child, bite it onscreen.
An old man is dragged through the streets, stabbed and beaten. A woman’s dead body is eviscerated and the face mutilated. Kids are shot. Oh, and for lack of a better term, one woman suffers from a reverse abortion.
Nothing, unless you count the topless woman laying on the ground, which you totally shouldn’t because her chest cavity has been opened up like a can of tuna.
Trust me, you can kill a child if the little fuckers are trying to murder you and your loved ones.
“It was as though all the children on the island awoke at the same time. They all started giggling. And then screaming.”
Beth (Vinessa Shaw) and Francis (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) are happily married and expecting a baby, but before their lives become complicated with a newborn they’ve decided to take a relaxing vacation to sunny Mexico. Big mistake. Their end goal is a remote island off the coast, but when they arrive they’re greeted by children at the dock and a seemingly empty town. Their curiosity grows until they witness an old man, the first adult they’ve glimpsed, being beaten and stabbed to death by a group of cheering kids.
Something is amiss on the island, and adults are clearly not welcome. The young couple are forced into survival mode, but their ability to defend themselves is weakened by the fact that the threat consists of small, smiling children. Who can kill a child? These two better if they want any hope of surviving their vacation and starting a family of their own.
Director Makinov (no first name given, but it’s probably Bob) makes his feature debut with this adaptation of Juan José Plans’ novel which was previously filmed in 1976. Makinov wrote and directed this incarnation, but he also played cinematographer, editor, producer and sound guy on what appears to be a labor of love. I say ‘appears’ because while he was clearly hands on throughout the film there’s very little personality to be found here.
The movie is pretty much a beat for beat retread of Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s film from the ’70s, and while that’s a bland choice for any remake it’s especially the case with a film featuring such a simple plot. Minor differences are visible, but the only real change is in the film’s look. While the older one had a grimy, exploitative feel even then Makinov’s movie actually looks good. From the appealing blues of the water to the deceptively white architecture of the town, the film has a clean and sharp visual style to it.
Shaw and Moss-Bachrach are both fine, but neither really knocks it out of the park with their performance. Part of the reason is that the script still calls for them to be stupid a bit too frequently, but there’s also the fact that there really isn’t much to the script at all. Shaw fares the worst in that regard, but neither role is a meaty one. Also lacking is a solid and effective score as the one here (uncredited but probably by Bob Makinov) feels more guttural than driving or melodic, and it adds nothing to the film’s atmosphere.
For its faults though the basic element here of children as the murderous threat is still a somewhat effective one. Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” and Tom Shankland’s excellent The Children do it all far better, but Makinov can’t help but find some menace in his homicidal tykes.
Come Out and Play isn’t a bad film per se, but it suffers by not bringing anything new to the table. Viewers who haven’t seen the original may find some thrills here and there, but everyone else will feel a familiar sense of déjà vu… only prettier.
Come Out and Play opens today in limited theatrical release.