|Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)|
|Director:||Narciso Ibáñez Serrador|
|Writers:||Juan José Plans and Narciso Ibáñez Serrador|
|Starring:||Lewis Fiander, Prunella Ransome and Antonio Iranzo|
|The Plot: A young English couple travel to Spain in order to get away from their worries. They seek some rest and relaxation, well away from their burdens and away from the world as they know it. However, what they find in Spain isn’t all that relaxing. Husband, Tom (Lewis Flander), has decided to take his pregnant wife, Evelyn (Prunella Ransome), to an island getaway that he once visited years before. However, when they arrive they find that this small town is uninhabited. An island of roughly two hundred living souls seems to have been completely deserted! As Tom and his wife begin searching the island for others, they notice a strange series of phone calls that keep popping up at the different locations that they stop into. Finally, after searching for hours, the group sees an elderly man with a cane from a distance. However, as they get closer to this gentleman, he is promptly killed by a little girl who quickly wanders up and beats the elderly man with his own cane. There is something VERY wrong with the children on this island. Now, Tom and Evelyn must find a way to travel back to their boat in order to leave the island… if they can get past these deranged children.|
The thesis for the film seems incredibly deceptive at first. Within the previously mentioned introduction, I started to over think the main intentions for the movie. I thought maybe it asked of its audience, “what are we teaching our children?” This seemed to be strengthened by the introductory segment with its strong comparison to all of the imagery of overweight men, women, and children wandering the beach. I imagined that the film seemed to show that humanity influences its children with its own internal aggression and social irresponsibility, and who is to say what would happen if those children took up the same violent aggressions. Later on within the movie, scenes such as a child praying at church and kneeling at confession while another child serves as a priest might have shown the dichotomy of certain adults who speak peace but act in aggression. I thought, surely the main point couldn’t be as casual and seemingly dumb as “what if children simply went on a rampage and started killing grown folks?” But that is precisely what the movie presents to us. Perhaps ‘dumb’ is a bit harsh, considering Village of the Damned wasn’t far away from this concept, but Who Can Kill a Child takes its central premise and doesn’t offer a very sustainable main idea. In essence, what could have been a very confrontational piece of cinema that asked a multitude of societal questions instead becomes something that is deviously simplistic and works best as a general piece of escapism. You honestly can’t count its shallowness as a negative, but it did come across as a bit of wasted opportunity.
Although the concept behind the film certainly seems to hint at a lot of exploitation, the violence here is shown in a very tasteful way. Generally, the film is completely classy in almost all regards. In the first scene of onscreen violence, we are told by one of the central characters that an elderly man has just walked off screen and is somewhere located in an alley just out of reach of the peering eye of our camera. We never actually see the older man while he is alive, but before you know it a little girl runs up and rips his walking stick from his hand and starts beating him with it. All violence occurs off screen and despite it lacking any gore, the scene is relatively unnerving. The child is shown perpetrating this violence in a manner of utmost glee. The children themselves all seem as if they are in a state of hypnosis except for the few moments where the are shown perpetuating violence. The film offers little exposition in why these children act the way they do (there is a explanation for the general reason that all of this seems to happen, but it doesn’t cover the small details), but it remains quite creepy. The entire film seems to carry an air of creepiness to it. This is no doubt thanks to the brilliant cinematography and the amazing locations that the film was shot in. Taking place primarily in a locale that brings to life Island of Death, with its sandstone buildings and dirty roads between what look to be ancient homes, the movie isn’t exactly what one pictures when they think “horror” but it seems to work even better due to this reason. The film does a spectacular job of crafting something desolate and yet also claustrophobic. As the nightmare unfolds, this ghost town seems to tighten up around our central characters. Although I mentioned Island of Death, one could just as easily point to many of the sets from the spaghetti western genre. This comparison may be slightly more fair, considering the artistic beauty that surrounds the cinematography in Who Can Kill a Child.