*. I guess the full title of this one is Makinov’s Come Out and Play. Sort of like Stephen King’s [Insert Title Here]. Which may seem fair enough since the artist known as Makinov did write, direct, produce, edit and shoot the movie. But . . .
*. But it’s not really that original or personal a bit of filmmaking since it’s a very close remake of Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s 1976 film Who Can Kill a Child? (or Island of the Damned). Also, the fact that this is a film by Makinov will mean nothing to most movie audiences since it’s his only mainstream credit, before or since, at least that I’ve been able to locate.
*. Who is Makinov? Apparently a fellow from Belarus. There’s no sight of him in the “Making of” featurette included with the DVD and I’ve heard that he wears a mask or red hood not just in interviews but even on the set. In the interviews with stars Vinessa Shaw and Ebon Moss-Bachrach they say that “people have strong feelings about him” but that they should just respect his privacy.
*. Strong feelings? Nobody knows (or, I imagine, very much cares) who he is. This all seems like a publicity stunt to me.
*. There are two horror sub-genres being mined. The first is the story of killer kids. I believe this goes back to Lord of the Flies or Village of the Damned (novels that were written and then filmed within a few years of each other). Also in the 1960s a source worth considering is the Star Trek episode “And the Children Shall Lead.” In the 1970s you might think of Who Can Kill a Child? or Devil Times Five, in the 1980s the Children of the Corn franchise got its start, and more recently we’ve seen the Sinister films and Eden Lake.
*. Unfortunately, there is no explanation whatsoever for what has gotten into these particular kids. It’s not like they’ve reverted to a state of nature, been infected with a brain disease, or joined some kind of demonic cult, though all of the above are hinted at. The way they pound and stab the old man to death made me think of the murder of James Bulger, but I doubt this was because they’ve been watching too many trashy horror movies or true crime specials. Do they even have WiFi or cell phone coverage on the island? It would appear as though they don’t.
*. Also dropped is the prelminary reference to the effect of war on children that’s in the original. Instead all we have is a postscript dedicating the film to the martyrs of Stalingrad. What?
*. The other problem here is that the kids just aren’t very threatening or frightening. The movie’s best moments have the couple investigating the newly depopulated island along with some eerie music and passages of very nice, flowing camera work. But once the murderous horde of kiddies show up I lost all interest.
*. The other sub-genre being invoked is that of tourist terror. Think of Hostel, The Ruins, and Turistas. The idea here is pretty simple, though the location of so many of these movies in Latin America is noteworthy. Things can get pretty scary down there. Build the wall!
*. So all-in-all I wasn’t that excited by Come Out and Play. The slow-build of the first third is nice but I didn’t get the sense that Makinov had a very firm grip of what he wanted to do or how to do it. The two leads remain surprisingly poorly drawn (given that they’re practically the only two characters in the film) and despite the woman’s pregnant state I still didn’t much care what happened to her. Still, I can’t say that an opportunity was missed here because I’m not sure the relatively obscure source material was all that good to begin with.