23rd Mar2018

Starburst Festival 2018: ‘The Child Remains’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Suzanne Clement, Allan Hawco, Shelley Thompson, Geza Kovacs | Written and Directed by Michael Melski

child-remains-poster

The second of two films shown back-to-back at Starburst Film Festival that dealt with the loss of a child and the breakdown in a relationship. This particular film comes from what I personally consider the home of good horror, Canada, and benefits from – thankfully – a much clearer vision than Torment.

The Child Remains tells the story of an expectant couple’s intimate weekend… A weekend which turns to terror when they discover their secluded country inn is a haunted maternity home where unwanted infants and mothers were murdered. Apparently inspired by the true story of the infamous ‘Butterbox Babies’, a creepy folklore tale from Nova Scotia that – like many of these macabre stories – has some basis in fact, after all pretty much ever country has scandalous rumours about mistreatment in all kinds of care homes, not just maternity homes.

The Child Remains follows very much a traditional horror cliche – that of the small town inn that hides a secret – only unlike others of this ilk, writer/director Michael Melski plays with the expectations of the audience and also successfully combines a mishmash of genres, tapping not only the supernatural but the traditional slasher film tropes, yet never pandering to either genre.

Horror films that deal with infanticide are few and far between, probably for fear of sensationalising such a touchy subject and driving audienced away; yet for all the routes that Melski could have taken in his storytelling, he takes a more empathic tack, dealing with the subject matter with compassion whilst at the same time managing to shock and disturb as and when needed – pushing the envelope on one occasion to really drive home the evil nature of the films antagonist.

What also helps keep The Child Remains from feeling like an exploitation of its subject matter is the superb cast.

Central to the film is the performance of Suzanne Clement as Rae. Clement is – frankly – superb, managing to imbue her character with a vulnerability that makes the danger all the more real, yet also has the inner strength to pull of the “final girl” stereotype with aplomb. She has a fanastic foil in Shelley Thompson as inn owner “Monica” – who at first seems sweet yet odd but eventually twists into an unstoppable antagnoist, as Thompson slowly transforms into a monster of Nurse Ratchet proportions, channeling a similar attitude to that of Louise Flether in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – with the same unrepenting villainy that made Fletcher’s character so unlikeable.

The Child Remains is not without issues, there are some huge plot holes – especially in a given that the Mersey Inn’s owner Monica looks REMARKABLY like her mother, as in the spitting image, should have been a huge red flag for the vacationing couple – especially when everything starts to go pear-shaped. But it isn’t and that’s a problem. As is the flip-flopping behaviour of Allan Hawco as Rae’s husband. The character’s motivation changes almost minute-by-minute, with him feeling the effects of this haunted inn at one minute then fine and ready and willing to help Rae the next.

Uncomfortable viewing for some, The Child Remains is one of the years (so far) most compelling and surprising supernatural horrors; and despite a few missteps this is well worth every genre fans time.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Off

Comments are closed.