Directed by Erlingur Thoroddsen
Written by Erlingur Thoroddsen
Starring Cait Bliss, Colin Critchley, Jason Martin, Dave Klasko
I confess, with a name like "Child Eater" and box art of the kind we're dealing with here, it would be very easy for a horror buff to want to add this one to the roster. Everything about this absolutely screams "gruesome" from the moment you make contact with it. But we've heard propositions like that before, haven't we? And we know they don't always turn out the way we expect them to. Sometimes, however, we get our expectations met rather nicely, and "Child Eater" will provide on that front.
"Child Eater" takes on one of the oldest, most familiar tropes around: the boogeyman in the closet. And for 16 year old Helen, about to engage in what she believes will be a quiet evening of babysitting, this threadbare trope is about to take on a whole new life. Seems her young charge is about to face down said boogeyman, and she'll have to fight this old horror herself. She's the babysitter, after all.
Now, unless I've misunderstood, this is an unusual bit of fare in that it's an import. An Icelandic import, actually, so that's a bit of a surprise. We don't see a lot of Icelandic horror in play; I've seen the bombast of the Finns, the comedy mix of the Danes, and the straighter-play horror of the Norwegians and Swedes. But Icelandic, now that's a different kettle of fish altogether.
As it turns out, this is a big kettle of fish stuffed full of runs through the woods, missing children, and gouged eyes. Seriously, if you've got a thing about eyes coming out of heads, often by force, you're probably going to want to keep a hand on the fast forward key. It happens surprisingly often. I never thought I'd be able to say "eye gouging happens surprisingly often" about a movie, but then, this is the beat we're walking.
I give them credit, as they've really delivered some old-fashioned scares here. This is the kind of thing I might have expected to see in theaters in the nineties, perhaps, with bigger-name actors and maybe a few stepped-up special effects. It's a bit disjointed, but it also does a fine job of being creepy, and when not creepy, outright frightening.
The ending, meanwhile, features an excellent cat-and-mouse game that ends reasonably predictably, but not without some satisfaction. There's also a nifty little twist at the end as we get a better look at our monster, and a postscript from same that details his choice of flavors.
Special features include audio options, a set of deleted scenes and a director's commentary track. Weird that they'd have these things yet no subtitles at all, but it's at least a decent set of options.
All in all, "Child Eater" turns out to be slightly misnamed, but still a pretty potent piece of work. Exciting and creepy, but with its share of outright squick, it might not be the kind of thing everyone can get behind.