|Children of the Night (2015)|
Directed by Iván Noel.
Cast: Sabrina Ramos, Ana María Giunta, Toto Muñoz, Lauro Veron.
2015 100 minutes
Not Rated (equivalent of an R for strong bloody violence and gore).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for TheFrightFile.com, October 5, 2015.
If it was revealed Guillermo del Toro or Tomas Alfredson had been involved in the creation of Iván Noel's darkly whimsical, unsuspectingly sweet "Children of the Night," it wouldn't be surprising in the least. Tonally at one with 2006's "Pan's Labyrinth
" and 2008's "Let the Right One In
," the film sneaks up on the viewer, burrowing deeper as it goes while posing as a touching allegory on prejudice, religion, and society's tendency to marginalize those who challenge the status quo.
When journalist Alicia (Sabrina Ramos) is invited to visit headmistress Erda's (Ana María Giunta) secluded private school Limbo in the Argentinian countryside, she assumes her assignment is to bring light to the young students' rare, potentially fatal Transylvirus illness. Empathetic though Alicia is to the wise-beyond-their-years childrenshe herself has suffered from hemophilia all her lifeit doesn't take long to sense something isn't quite right with them. Beyond only venturing outside at nightunderstandable due to their dangerous photosensitivitythey seem strangely familiar to the reporter, and in return know an unusual amount about her. Indeed, a connection she shares with the prepubescent Siegfried (Toto Muñoz) cannot be denied. As the particulars of their condition come into focus, Alicia believes the safest course of action is to return to her home in Buenos Aires. As Erda informs her, however, leaving is out of the question.
"Children of the Night" astutely melds the classical mythos of the vampire legend with a revisionist take painting the ageless, bloodsucking immortals more as victims than villains. Writer-director Iván Noel accepts the challenge of his low budget by casting strong actors for each role and working from a screenplay as inventive as it is poignantly felt. Grisly carnage is copious as the students face an imminent deadly threat, but the story is treated as an aching coming-of-age fairy tale rather than a fear-inducing horror picture. As Alicia draws closer to the not-so-young youngsters, identifying with them in ways she cannot possibly anticipate at the onset, the film's tender humanity and portrayal of alienation and loss ring with resounding truth. Noel's lovely music scoreat once airy, mournful and soaringcompletes the spell. If "Children of the Night" is a little bit rough around the fringes, with certain scene transitions and sound editing choices on the crude side, it is but a minor observation next to everything done right. This is an underseen, genre-fluid gem, a weird and wonderful film that on occasion one-ups the acclaimed, better-known titles of its ilk.