24th May2018

‘Blessed are the Children’ Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Kaley Ball, Keni Bounds, Arian Thigpen, Jordan Boyd, Michael Kinslow, David Moncrief, Cheryl Abernathy, Jennifer Wilder, Hope Prybylski, Claire Mayronne, George Mayronne | Written by Chris Moore, Chris Wesley | Directed by Chris Moore

blessed_are_the_children-poster

After being dumped by her violent boyfriend, things soon become worse for Traci Paterson (Kaley Ball) as she finds out that she is also pregnant. Feeling too young to handle the responsibility and uncertainty regarding the identity of the father, after discussing the situation with her house mates Mandy Crane (Keni Bounds) and Erin Peters (Arian Thigpen), she decides the best thing she could so is have an abortion.

Upon arriving at the abortion clinic, Traci notices two menacing looking protestors standing outside with a banner which says, ‘GOD HATES YOU’. An unwelcoming sight at any time, but the message is made all the more sinister by the fact their identities are concealed behind hooded tops and a face mask which looks like a baby crying in pain. Although the receptionist assures Traci that despite their creepy appearance they are in fact harmless, this does not stop Traci from feeling unsettled by their presence outside.

After the clinic Traci tries to put the events behind her, but when she starts to receive threatening calls, hears noises in the night and has a constant feeling that someone is hiding in the shadows, she gets the sense that something is not quite right. At first, Traci believes it could be down to guilt following the abortion, but as more frightening events begin to unfold Traci begins to realise that she and everyone she cares about could be in serious danger.

Blessed are the Children delivers a throwback to the classic slashers of the 70’s and 80’s which director and co-writer Chris Moore acknowledges throughout the film. However, this is not just another duplication, thanks to a well written script and some excellent acting the film manages to deliver create a very unique feel which is very much of his own devising.

The theme of abortion is definitely a hot topic and one which can raise a heated argument from both sides, so having this emotional motivation incorporated into a horror movie works perfectly. Especially when you take into account the masks which the killer chooses to wear. The ominous look of the masks has an unsettling effect throughout the film, as well as representing the face of the aborted child, they look extremely disturbingly on an adult’s body. The film uses this perfectly and takes time to build on the atmosphere, we get a glimpse of the masked figure creeping menacingly in the background or moving out from within the shadows. It creates a heightened tension which leaves you anticipating the moment when they will eventually strike.

Fans of Gallio thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (1980), will certainly recognise some of the influences in the visual style, although at times the film surprisingly manages to deliver a more ruthless and bloody final execution. The killers modus operandi is a straight edge blade which is used to brutally butcher the victims, which makes the death scenes extremely personal and does not hold back.

Delivers what you would expect from a slasher film, it also offers one of the unique as the film driven by three strong female leads. A female lead may not be unusual in a slasher film, but here all three lead actresses are given an opportunity to develop their characters, and neither of them resemble the characteristics of your typical scream queen persona.

Kaley Ball leads the cast as the young and naive Traci whose almost desperate need for affection seems to draw her towards the men she knows she should avoid. Blinded by youth and naivety she continues in the hope that it will eventually lead to something more. Kaley does a great job with the character giving her a natural likeability, but at the same time a headstrong attitude. Behind it all however there is an element of sadness as she tries to come to terms with the loss of her father, which has left her emotionally vulnerable.

Flatmates Keni Bounds and Arian Thigpen have some excellent chemistry together, as their banter about life and relationships brings a lighter tone to the film. A theme which we see both of them experience with varying degrees of success. It is Arian Thigpen however really shines in the film as Erin Peters in a brilliantly funny comedy scene when she agrees to go on a date. After having a drink (or a few) to calm her nerves, the normally awkward and shy Erin suddenly comes out of her shell which has some hilarious results on her date, thanks to her slapstick comic timing.

Blessed are the Children is a solid horror which gives a loving nod to the genre, with a great script and performances which makes it stans out. It may take a while for the film to get going, but it really pays off once the action starts. The film maintains a sense of uncertainty regarding the killer and delivers several twists which keeps you guessing where the film will go. In the final 20 minutes the pace really picks up, before one final twist which manages to create one of the most chilling endings I have seen in a long time.

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