A Confident, Disturbing Monster Movie
I bet there is not one among us who was once not afraid of the dark. What’s more we remember that fear and even today we have strange feelings about venturing into absolute darkness. This is something of a communal feeling and director Erlingur Ottar Thoroddsen and he creates something unforgettable here making us want to see what he comes up with next.
“Child Eater” begins with a young girl is holding her own severed eyes as she innocently says, “He hurt me.” The movie then jumps ahead some twenty-five years and the community is still dealing with the horror that happened there a quarter of a century ago.
The film centers on Helen (Cait Bliss), who has been hired to babysit Lucas (Colin Critchley) after the recent death of his mother. Helen’s babysitting session soon turns into a nightmare as Lucas goes missing and it’s up to Helen to find him before the worst takes place. We have a simple premise that complicates nothing. This is a simple and old-fashioned monster story.
Robert Bowery (Jason Martin) is the “Child Eater” and a terrifying monster. He suffers from an eye disease, so he kidnaps children and it becomes even more upsetting. Even just watching Bowery in motion is chilling with his twisted body language and cane. There’s a moment where Bowery grabs Lucas and it’s very, very scary. Aside from Bowery, there are other uncomfortable aesthetics throughout the film that keep the audience in a state on unease. Creepy dolls with missing eyes become even creepier, and there is eerie singing of children, mysterious calls to the Sheriff’s office, and the disturbing symbol of a fake glass eye that acts as a memento and symbol for Bowery’s destruction. We see Lucas staring at the camera and feeling small and powerlessness. The film also shows children’s fears of the basement and the dark and how overwhelming those things can be.
“Child Eater” takes place in Lucas’ house, the woods, and a hospital and these places frequently switch. Each time something new is added to the story in some way. We actually care about Lucas through all of this and the moments where you get to see him outsmart Bowery elate us and make us want to cheer for him.
The boogeyman is quite real in Thoroddsen’s film. He loves ripping out and eating his victims’ eyeballs in order to keep from going blind. His legend goes back decades, but it’s not until curious Lucas (Colin Critchley) goes missing that his babysitter must venture out into the woods to confront the child eater myth in person.
The mythology surrounding the killer isn’t exactly far-reaching but there’s just enough back-story and creature design to establish interest in the character.
This is a well-made, well-executed independent film with a compelling creature and some memorable shots and sequences. We tend to forget the more pedestrian and cliché scenes.