Monsieur Chariot

Monsieur Chariot
That Dazzling and Luminous California Metropolis known as The City Of The Angels, USA
June 08
Offering Discreet Tutelage in the Metropolitan Arts to Inquiring Gentlepersons of Variously Misguided Social Persuasions


Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 27, 2009 1:11PM

The Horror of Children

Rate: 76 Flag

· The Finical Filmgoer ·


The Children (2008)

Nobody raises horrible children like the British. The child actors who starred in horror classics like Village of the Damned, The Innocents and The Omen set the standard for creepy children, in a manner that is unmatched in American cinema. Maybe it's the sugary smarm inherent in the American child actor? I don't know. But if the central character in a horror film reveals even the slightest trace of "cuteness", all is lost.


An altogether different form of horror
American child actors, with their Star Seach, look-at-me-Mommy sparkle, can cause the entire tone of a great horror film to come crashing down like a house of tarot cards. Cherubical effects are anathema to the genre. Children in horror films must be eerily adult-like, coldly self-possessed, with ghastly dead eyes - bringing British children immediately to mind.

And yet, time, MacDonalds, MTV and Barney the purple thing have slowly infected the Victorian tone of British child-rearing with the hypoglycemia which has ruined the American child-persona, and one can find evidence of this trend in a horror film enjoying some notoriety called The Children (2008). Still, one must admit that the great tradition of creepy children lingers in the performances of the young actors. Perhaps you can rent the film and weigh in?


In The Children, two families gather on an English country estate to celebrate Christmas. The film opens on a car transporting one of the families to the event, and we are treated to parental chatter, with a sullen teenager and the cheery shrieking of children in the back seat. Upon arrival, one of the urchins vomits with some gusto, and the parents attribute it to car sickness.

But as the days pass, all of the children appear to come down with a kind of flu. What with the various influenzas that have plagued civilization, who is to say that Hong Kong flu, Spanish flu, Avian flu and Swine flu could not be followed by Child Maniac flu? Subsequent to the onset of the illness, the childrens' personalities change, and they are tranformed to cold-blooded killers.


Where did you say the children were?

The film's tagline, You brought them into this world. Now ... They will take you out, admirably captures the proceedings. The film tries a little too hard to ramp up the horror, which has the effect of putting too fine a point on the knife, as it were. With a little less of the heavy-hand, this could have been great child-horror fare. Regardless, it served to cement M. Chariot's lifelong commitment to childlessness.


The barren life

At the very least, I strongly recommend that if one encounters children carrying knives during flu season, one should avoid allowing one's throat to be less than 4 feet off the ground.


Wrong: 1.5 feet off the ground



Finical Filmgoer Reviews:

Salt (2010)

Angels and Insects (1995)

Secret Ceremony (1968)

To Each His Own (1946)

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

The Children (2008)

Antonioni's L'Avventura (1960)

They Came Back (2004)

Ma mère (2004)

The Staircase (2004)

Mimic (1997)

The Golden Bowl (2000)

Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Edge of Darkness (2010)

Far from the Madding Crowd (1967)

It's Complicated (2009)

 Goodbye Again (1961)

Antichrist (2009)

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Smash His Camera (2010)



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I think you are absolutely right about British children. The correctness of their elocution is chilling....
Yes, but you never were a big fan of the little darlings regardless of their place of birth. You present a cogent argument. r
I must check this out! I do think The Bad Seed was very well done - but that child in her 50's children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard correctness was more British than American, in some ways.

I loved the short story Children of the Corn. That was Stephen King channeling Shirley Jackson and the casual menace of these murderous rural kids swept by religious fervor was fantastic. Skip the movie, but read the short.
Monsieur Chariot,
This Tuesday has become brighter with an appearance of a post from you.

I was grateful to see you were referencing the classic 1960’s version of “Village of the Damned” and not that awful John Carpenter directed remake of 1995.

As usual you have made me grin, laugh, and admire your use of language as well as your forethought in regard to what a happy life means to you.

If Open Salon ever considers having a signature wordsmith I would happily cast my vote for you.

Rated and appreciated as always.

p.s. The blood spattered ornament was a very nice touch.
The Brits have a way with horror which cannot be duplicated anywhere else.

Children can be frightening in many ways, not the least of which is their capacity for cruelty to each other.
M. Chariot, your strong recommendation is good advice for everyone. Your common sense knows no bounds. As always, it's a delight to peek inside your brain and watch the wheels turn. I have to agree with you that the British children are the scariest.
Hmmm . . . more additions to my "must watch" list.
I appreciate your timely warning. If I must, I will beat them off with my crutch.
I'm chilled and vow never to approach the playground with the same carefree zest ever again. It's that or the screaming that the Kid did the other day, loud enough to inspire comment on the other side of the swing set, has so embarrassed me that I decided I'm pretending the Kid isn't mine if it happens again.

All of which will take place at a different, new playground. Where they don't know me.
You make an excellent point. And may I add, of all the creepy children, I find twins the creepiest of all. Probably because of the twin girls in "The Shining"...
This reminds me of some creepy twins in my social scene. They're adults, but they're petite ladies and they have long red hair and dress like Alice in Wonderland. I don't know them, I just see them out dancing a lot. Once, I was in the ladies room and I heard whispering. Then the twins came out of the handicapped stall together. I tell myself it is an act and they do it on purpose for kicks.
You've just reinforced my belief that I should never turn my back on my child - who knows what evil lurks within?!!!
This is why I only had one. I figured more than that and they could gang up on me!
The terrifying depiction of English schools in Pink Floyd's The Wall goes a long way toward explaining the behavior of children without childhoods:

"When we grew up and went to school,
There were certain teachers who would,
Hurt the children any way they could.
By pouring their derision upon anything we did.
Exposing every weakness,
However carefully hidden by the kids."
The movies are so very good at revealing the unconscious fears of our collective psyche. I am not sure *exactly* what the The Children is illuminating, but I don't want to spend a lot of time there...;) (A compelling read, as always, M Chariot. Consider me Spooked!)
I suggest including "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea," in which Kris Kristofferson is sacrificed by a platoon of weird-ass kids.
See the Doctor Who spinoff, "Torchwood: Children of Earth."

"We are coming. We are coming. We are coming."

(Though supposedly all the world's children stopped what they were doing at the same time and said that in unison, they kept showing the British children in their school uniforms doing that on the playground. Which is so much creepier than American children doing so.)
I can't watch scary movies so I'm no good for a comment (what a poorly constructed sentence!). But creepy kids are, besides clowns, the creepiest. What I do hate are kids in movies that are portrayed as these ridiculously wise smart ass kids who in real life, could never be that smart ass because they haven't lived long enough. I hate that.
I'm one of those strange adult children who have never seen The Exorcist, The Omen, Poltergeist, The Bad Seed, Carrie or any other movie with creepy kids in it. But my husband has often said -- quoting someone else -- that children are born criminals who must be civilized by grown-ups, who are little more than criminals themselves. Love your take on the excessively romantic -- and silly -- view Americans have of their children; that's what makes them so ripe for exploitation in a horror movie. Or a home video of a talent show.
I seriously doubt I'll be watching anymore horror films in this lifetime, but I appreciate your look at them.
"...bringing British children immediately to mind." Ha!

Cool post. I love it when someone notices something new.
I adore horror films and especially those featuring British children. English public schools have an unearthly effect, it seems.
Sage Advice , mon cher Monsieur. In Real Life, we can be glad to have been spared the Child Maniac Flu.

Unfortunately, we still have a number of Child Maniacs even if we don't have to cope with that strain of flu. Yet.
You obviously haven't watched the TLC and seen Kate and her 8, not to mention the Duggans who have 'way too many children and are proud of it. Talk about horror!
no one does it like you, my dear Monsieur. no one.
Most children are creepy with their tiny hands and teeth.
There are a couple of delightfully creepy Swedish kids in "Let the right one in", a great little movie.

As my kids are British but raised mostly in America, they are only a little creepy. Besides, they are adults now, and try to mask it when they can.
I spent a year in England and told someone that their little four-year-olds sounded POSSESSED by demons with their too-crisp patterns of speech and stony facial expressions.
I loved your humor.
"Children in horror films must be eerily adult-like, coldly self-possessed, with ghastly dead eyes - bringing British children immediately to mind."


But would you consider spawning a young'un with me?
And here I thought a screaming toddler with the flu, vomiting and diarrhea were scary enough, now I gotta watch for knives...
I think I will recommend this film to my co-workers who are home with sick H1N1 kids. Yes, that should definitely earn me some points at work...
Yet another great and entertaining piece. Thanks for posting.
British adults are kinda creepy too. Happy Halloween!
Another stellar post. I agree that the best "horror" children are British. Apart from the actress who played the child in The Bad Seed, American tykes are too full of treacly smiles. The Brits do it best with ghostly coldness, excruciatingly polite manners, and the certainty that they are superior to any other beings.
Ditto what Emma said. Your post is priceless! Thank you.
All American evil: Patty McCormack; 1956; "The Bad Seed".

She was so disturbing, Hollywood had to tack a happy ending lightning bolt on to the play to get the movie past the censors. Had the actress been British, she'd have been "Patricia McCormack," which would have spoiled everything.
You think the movies are scary? I was a British child, we become British adults...trust me, we don't stop being scary just because we grow up! Mwuahaha!
I would have rated this based on the title alone. But the rest of the piece - well, Monsieur, we've all thought it and it needed to be said, dammit.
My dear M. Justis ~ Elocution can be so very sinister, can it not?

My dear M. Sheepdog ~ Little darlings are little darlings regardless of where they commit their murders.

My dear Mme Stephens ~ M. Chariot adores literary horror, and will be sure to check out your recommendation!

My dear M. Knight ~ I beg you not to submit that ornament for DNA testing!

My dear M. Willie ~ M. Chariot agrees. The Brits have perpetrated a history of horror on an unsuspecting public: consider if you will, Morrissey, the Osbournes and Simon Cowell.

My dear Mlle Blonde ~ As a child, M. Chariot's top hat was consistently kicked around the playground. A painful reminiscence.

My dear Mlle Latethink ~ M. Chariot is flattered by the pleasure you take in watching my "wheels turn". Just don't be under them when I back up, my dear girl.
My dear Mlle Owl ~ Be forewarned: 'The Children' is not for the delicate!

My dear Mlle Mumbletypeg ~ May I recommend fixing a tiny stiletto to the tip of your crutch? One never knows when 'The Children' will attack, and I do worry about you, my dear.

My dear Mlle Roulette ~ Has Kid Roulette been fluish lately? I fear for your safety!

My dear Mlle LBOSpoons ~ My dear, I would do anything to tag along on one of your nightly forays!

My dear Mlle Surly ~ The Shadow knows!

My dear Mme Young ~ Be forewarned. All it takes is one.

My dear M. Cordle ~ "You! Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddy!"
My dearest Mlle Sandstrom ~ Just be sure you have a preventative supply of candy on Halloween Night. 'The Children' are appeased by candy. Think of it as a kind of wolfbane.

My dear M. Pritchard ~ Back at you! 'Suddenly Last Summer', where Sebastian is cannibalized alive by a kiddie cabal!

My dear Mlle Nolting ~ M. Chariot is far too delicate to submit himself to the horrors of a 903 year old Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey!

My dear Mme Kelly ~ By all means, avoid 'Juno', one of the most terrifying child-horror films of all time!

My dear Mme Haynes ~ As you well know, some of the most bone-chilling films are home videos of child talent shows.

My dear Mlle Skeletnwmn ~ With your screenname one would imagine you owned an entire library of Halloween features!
My dear M. Edgar ~ If one is to survive, one must be constantly alert to the deadly machinations of 'The Children'!

My dear Mlle Mendel ~ Hogwarts, all of them!

My dear Mlle Shiral ~ An insidious disease, my dear! Keep a hand-sanitizer at the ready.

My dear Mlle Phillyart ~ Is Kate/8 one of those zombie offerings?

My dearest M. Lazar ~ And no one appreciates it like you. Sigh.

My dear Mlle Glover ~ And their tiny eyes! Their Tiny Eyes!!!!
My dear M. Incandescent ~ One supposes there is a certain picaresque charm to murderous British Children. Still, I wouldn't want to encounter one in a dark cobblestoned alley.

My dear Mme Smithie Redux ~ Advice writ in blood, my dear!

My dear M. Reedtoon ~ If your children awoke you in the AM with a meat cleaver, would you not consider shipping them off to boarding school?

My dear M. GeeBee ~ Once your children are over forty, I think you can feel quite safe again.

My dear Mlle Black ~ The weirdness of the Children of Londontown is second only to the weirdness of the Children of Mississippi!

My dear Mlle Marcelle ~ Once the vomiting and diarrhea begins, they are known to switch from knives to meat cleavers. Make a note of it.

My dear Mlle Wilmarth ~ But think of the adult lives you'll save!
My dear M. Mishima ~ This essay was posted strictly to ensure the safety of yourself and the other at-risk adults!

My dear M. Blevins ~ To say nothing of the French.

My dear Mlle Peel ~ Ghostly coldness, excruciatingly polite manners and a certain superiority spells nothing if not murder!

My dear Mlle Renaissance ~ As far as 'The Children' are concerned, there is a price on each of our heads!

My dear Mme Stellaa ~ Let's just be certain that porridge has some very special 'seasonings', shall we?

My dear M. Harrison ~ I recall that film and that treacly coda. It was like putting a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry on a corpse!
Monsieur, I made the terrible mistake of taking my daughters to see Juno. Although the theater was dark, you could hear us rolling our eyes. The pregnant teen was wiser than Buddha and this is exactly what I was talking about. Completely and totally unbelievable and creepy.
My dear Mlle McMahon ~ I was just kidding about 'The Children'! Didn't mean any of it! Really I didn't! Really!

My dear Mlle Mann ~ Someone had to be the Voice of the People! Someone had to secure the safety of the Adults! Someone had to alert the world to the horror of 'The Children'!
My dear Mme Kelly ~ Please my dear. You may not understand but you must listen: never, I tell you, never allow yourself to be alone and in a darkened room with 'The Children'! You'll thank me for this!
So far none of the evil flu, Monsieur. You are a peach for considering my health. I'm afraid the Kid thinks little of it, and often leaks bodily fluids about my person.
I have added "The Children" to my Netflix queue. This may be a bad mistake, as Mrs Bee has a low tolerance for anything interfering with the traditions of Christmas. She has never forgiven Billy Bob Thornton for "Bad Santa", and she has only seen the trailers.
Creepy kids. You can beat 'em, but you just can't kill 'em. Great review!
If you think the British children are bad, you should taste their cooking.
Just got The Children (and Midnight Meat Train and Murder Party) last week in light of upcoming festivities. We watched The Children day before yesterday. Though I would have made it a bit more horrrorific (I yawned a few times), would have had a bit more plot, tying the children to what they were doing, and continuity, and I preferred the alternate or additional ending, I found it pretty good. Nasty evil children are Always a pleasure!

Midnight Meat Train is directed by Ryûhei Kitamura, and promises to be theatrical and beautiful; and it stars a then-less-infamous Bradley Cooper; Vinnie Jones as the evil-doer; and cameo by Brooke Shields (I know, who'd a thunk it?). I'll let you know how it goes....


- Con
I must admit. I feel safe. I never liked children anyway.
I always like the AMERICAN film The Wild Seed myself. And what about The Omen, Children of the Corn....... I am sure I could name many others. And televison: don't get my started. Actually I love the way little British kids say "Mummy."
OOOPs, I just read the comments and realize it is The Bad Seed, not the Wild Seed and someone beat me to it. Suffice it to say, though, that that is the naughtiest little girl ever.
M. Chariot, you've been away so long. You've been missed.
Ha! I will never look at children the same way again! I'll not forget the horrid little French children I watched in the parks with their mothers when I lived in Europe. "Ma Mah! Ma Mah!" I wanted to strangle them!
When I used to teach kindergarten, there was always one child that had eyes that could bore through cement. Scary! A wonderful story a few days before Halloween. Please write more, Monsieur Chariot! We get so little of you these days...
Well Monsieur, you know the old chestnut: "It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye!" I just failed to realize that sometimes it's because the little whippersnapper becomes possessed by the Devil and uses a hot poker to take the bloody thing out.

Why, oh why, did I ever spawn?
My dear M. Rodgers ~ With regard to cuisine, I am considering submitting mother's Child Finger Soufflé on Foodie Tuesday.

My dear Mlle Mack ~ Yawning during a private screening of The Children confirms something I have always suspected about you; a certain fearlessness where The Children are concerned!

My dear Mlle Celt ~ A dark wisdom indeed.

My dear Mlle Lulu&Phoebe ~ When bathing children, be certain no sharp objects are present and that your throat is covered.

My dear Mlle Warren ~ Takes one to know one, hmmm?

My dear Mlle Hyblaean ~ Next on my Halloween list: The Broken!

My dear M. Lefty ~ I had stayed away only because a cabal of menacing Children had surrounded my cloistral apartments, skipping, playing and laughing - maniacally.

My dear MAWB ~ The urge to strangle The Children is to be avoided: they carry meat cleavers to deal with the likes of you!

My dear M. LuisG ~ Consider yourself lucky to have escaped that kindergarten classroom alive, my good man!

My dear Mme Emrich ~ I am so relieved to see you have taken note. I am here only to save adult lives!
OH, MC, that you think I am naughty gives me goosebumps.....
I don't watch horror films because, honestly, I'm a total weenie, but I must say Monsieur, you've made me realize that my own children aren't quite the little horrors that they seemed like they were two hours ago. Thanks!
Yikes! Sounds like my kids.... :0
I saw this movie and enjoyed it. It had a high quality of production and those kids scared the beejeezus out of me. Definitely British children are scarier.
Oh god! You put in a photo of the children in Village of the Damned and I'm terrified of seeing kids or anyone else with white eyes! I saw this movie when I was young and was scared out of my mind and haven't been able to watch it since. I have a white eye phobia big time. Talk about children being impressive. I have goose bumps. Can't beat British child actors nor most of their adult actors. Must be the Shakespearean and theater background thing. And, thanks for the heads up. Think I'll pass on The Children. Come to think of it, it it's got Children in the title I should just pass it up immediately. Children of the Corn? Forget it!

This is my only childhood phobia. Otherwise, I'm perfect! yeah right.
The book "13th Gen" by Neil Howe and Bill Strauss explores the Evil Child cycle of horror films in the mid 60s through the 70s (Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Haunting of Julia, Halloween, etc) and sees it as eflecting a rejection of post-Boomer children in American culture. Now that we are again seeing Evil Children revived in the cinema, perhaps we are also recycling the kinder animus...
At least in Manhattan, a parent may not be apparent (so to speak) in a child's life. I doubt things have changed since my son frequented playgrounds there, and I found that if I asked a creepy child, "Where's your mommy? Daddy? Grandma? Grandpa? Nanny?" I got only a vacant, suspicious stare, so I learned to ask, "Where is your grown-up?" God/dess knows what relationship that person had to the the child, but every child did have a grownup in tow.
"Nobody raises horrible children like the British?" Sir, I must object. The Irish have been raising monsters for millennia. A popular song among Dublin children is 'Weile Weile Waile' one of the verses of which goes like this:
'She stuck the knife in the babby's head
Weile weile waile
And the more she stuck it, the more it bled
Down by the river Saile.'
I fondly remember singing it on my Daddy's knee. As Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners used to say: that gives you an idea of the kind of children we have in Dublin...
Between your hatred of children and your love of this particular sub-genre, I am now completely convinced we are soul mates of a sort.

No, really.
Wow Monsieur--plus parfait! Rated.
You be the best in comfort silk robe and at your computer.
A real-life creepy British child:
M. Chariot - I agree with your analysis, although I wonder if little Damien Thorne's creepiness would have had less of an impact without Billie Whitelaw as his crazed satanic nanny? I'm curious as to your thoughts about "The Orphan"