Wednesday, October 17, 2018

CHILD EATER (2016) DVD review

Child Eater (2016) d. Erlingur Ottar Thorodsson (USA) (82 min)

With his vision failing from macular degeneration, petting zoo proprietor Robert Bowery (Jason Martin) starts to lose his younger clientele as parents fear for their offspring’s safety. His macabre solution is to viciously gouge out and consume the eyes of children in the hopes not going blind, which understandably does not go over too well with the community at large. Fast forward 25 years: the myth of the old dark zoo on the edge of the woods is alive and well, and babysitter Helen (Cait Bliss) is tasked with watching Lucas (Colin Critchley), the young lad whose father has recently taken up residence near The Old Bowery Place. As night falls, Lucas senses a malevolent figure lurking in his closet (one resembling a gaunt and begoggled coal miner); while Helen dismisses it as the after-effects of their evening’s scary movie, the boy – and the audience – knows better, and the race is soon on to see who will survive the night with orbs intact.

Expanded from his Columbia College short film thesis project-cum-festival darling (available in its entirety here and starring the delightfully vocal-fried Bliss), writer/director Thorodsson creates a moody and effective boogeyman story using those tried-and-true elements: an intriguing backstory, believable performances from unknowns, excellent cinematography, restrained but worthy special effects, and imaginative sound design.

It seems somewhat strange to be celebrating what should be Independent Horror Filmmaking 101, but I found myself impressed time and again by how effectively the story was being told on what was clearly a slim budget. Like, “Wow, that’s a really nice pan-and-dolly shot,” or “Huh, that line of dialogue doesn’t sound completely awkward coming out of that actor’s mouth,” or “That is such a simple monster design – how is that working as well as it is?” It’s called going the extra mile, folks, and I for one feel more respected as a viewer and a horror fan because of it.

Child Eater is exactly what it sets out to be, a fantastic piece of urban legendary told simply, told well, and told without overstaying its welcome or imposing upon viewer goodwill (the cardinal sin of too many independent efforts). While hardly revolutionary, that in itself is refreshing and announces Thorodsson as a talent to keep an eye (haha) on.

Child Eater is available now on DVD from MVD Visual, with a commentary track by Thorodsson, Bliss, and Martin as its sole extra, and can be ordered HERE:


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