28th Oct2020

‘Child Eater’ DVD Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Cait Bliss, Colin Critchley, Jason Martin, Dave Klasko, Brandon Smalls, James Wilcox, Melinda Chilton, Andrew Kaempfer, Kara Durrett, Weston Wilson | Written and Directed by Erlingur Thoroddsen

Back in 2012, writer and director Erlingur Thoroddsen made a short film called Child Eater. It was a very good short, a mere fifteen minutes of haunting horror about a boogeyman out to capture kids. Some four years later, it was adapted from the short into a feature film of the same name. Cait Bliss (Towers of Terror) reprises her role from the original short, Helen Connolly, and Thoroddsen returns to his creation as writer and director.

Child Eater delves into a subgenre of horror that we seldom see in the modern age (or even in 2016 when this movie was released). That boogeyman horror, the creature in the dark corner, the monster under the bed. It aims to unsettle with folklore like that from an old campfire creep-tale that would unease kids and dampen their bedsheets with terror. The movie follows Helen as she babysits for a kid named Lucas (Colin Critchley). A kid with an, erm, shall we say “macabre imagination”, Lucas thinks that there’s monsters in his bedroom, and worries of old men in the woods. I mean, why wouldn’t you? Old men in forests are pretty fucking creepy. When Helen goes to check on Lucas after later hearing noises in his bedroom, she finds him gone (finds him gone sounds like an oxymoron, but whatever) and decides to head out into the trees beyond the backyard to search for him. Oh dear. Oh dear indeed. The old man in the woods is Robert Bowery (Jason Martin), a blind-but-goggled supernatural creepy old bloke whose history is filled with killing children and eating their eyeballs. Nice. He has taken Lucas, and it’s up to Helen to get the kid back. Game on.

The film is fun and I had a good time with it. It did, however, feel a lot like the original short, and in the end, though I had a good time, I didn’t feel like I learned much more about Bowery, or Helen, or the mythology of what had happened before. The option and time to explore this further was there, but Child Eater instead chooses to not do a whole lot more of that, focusing on the night that Lucas goes missing. I mean, there’s good and bad to that, but I would have liked a little more depth, to be quite honest. Bowery looks creepy as he did before, and I liked his design, and much of the acting is fine or good, with Critchley perhaps being the least tolerable of the bunch due to his script feeling a little… off.

I think Bowery is a character with a lot of potential in horror. He’s a scary guy, and the idea of this boogeyman from your worst nightmares haunting the kids of any village is prime real estate for a franchise. The scenes of eyeball gouging and horror are done well, and I loved every scene involving this villain. The film loses itself a little and feels a touch aimless at times, but to say it’s not entertaining would be a lie. It’s good fun, and for over 80 minutes I enjoyed myself. A bit more of a cave-jump into the mythology would have been good, and a tad more character development, but the horror moments, the build and the creepy bad-guy make for a solid flick worth the time of any horror lover this October.

*** 3/5

Child Eater is out on DVD now from High Fliers.


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