Movie Review: There's Something Wrong with the Children (2023)
Synopsis: Margaret and Ben take a weekend trip to the woods with their friends Ellie and Thomas and their friends' two children, Lucy and Spencer. While taking a hike, they come across an abandoned building with a staircase leading to a deep pit. The kids seem to be obsessed with it and, when Margaret and Ben decide to let them spend the night in their cabin, wander back into the woods and Ben, chasing after them, witnesses them leap into the pit to their deaths. However, when he returns to the cabins, Ben discovers the kids are still alive but behaving differently. Unfortunately, nobody, including Margaret, believes him.
Review: I came across this movie a few days ago and, thinking it sounded somewhat interesting, added it to my library. My wife and I watched it yesterday evening and, overall, I thought it was pretty good.
I think the thing I like best about this film is the mystery surrounding the two kids. Even before Ben (Gilford) witnessed their death, they were acting strangely. Spencer (Mattle) seemed a bit more animal-like while Lucy (Guiza) seemed confident and a bit manipulative. Once they jumped into the pit, the behavior just became more aggressive as they went out of their way to torture Ben psychologically.
Helping with the mystery was Ben's own mental illness issues. While I suspected they were just a red herring, it did provide a plausible explanation about what he witnessed and was experiencing while making it easy to understand why his friends and his own wife wouldn't believe him, especially when they think he killed one of the kids.
I am even going to give the movie some credit when it comes to the couples. Sometimes movies like this tend to manufacture drama by creating unneeded tension. That really was kind of the case with this film too. However, it wasn't anything that bogged down the plot. In fact, the marital troubles between Ellie (Crew) and Thomas (Santos) were the main catalyst for the events by giving a reason for the kids to stay at the friends' cabin while their parents worked things out.
I think my only real complaint about the film is I do think it should have made more of an effort to explain what happened. There are plenty of hints (especially shadow) that tell us what the children became but they just raised more questions than they answered. Keeping things like that a mystery for the bulk of the movie is fine but choosing not to give an explanation honestly makes it feel like the writers didn't really know what was happening either and just hoped we wouldn't notice.
Final Opinion: Other than what I just mentioned about the need for some sort of explanation, I thought this movie was halfway decent. The performance from the two children was creepy enough to keep me interested as was the mystery about what they planned to do.
My Grade: B-