Director/producer Chris Moore takes us on a trip through late 70s early 80s off-beat slasher territory in the creepy stalk and slash ‘Blessed are the Children’.
The slow burn slasher, paying homage to the numerous more atmospheric genre movies such as ‘Alice Sweet Alice’ and ‘Eyes of a Stranger’ generates a brooding atmosphere cumulating in some satisfying and bloody kills by the films conclusion.
The plot follows 3 young women, and odd-balls at that. One, a failure at everything relationship, another an insecure virgin and the third, a bi-sexual lady who seems more interested in her friends getting laid than herself. Things are already gloomy as we find Traci (Kaley Ball), being used as nothing more than a friend with benefits, is pregnant. With her mother disproving, and her inability to get her own life together, she makes the decision to terminate the pregnancy. Here things take a turn for the worse as a group of mask-wearing ‘God’ squad fellows begin to stalk each of the group - eye for an eye, life for a life and all that.
The topical plot gives the slasher some grounding to begin with, and I really did admire the restraint from the film makers not to go over the top with how the killers were handled. I have watched a few movies recently covering a similar topic, where the Christian-hardliners were overplayed with regards to their real-life clichés. Here the killers are silent, ominous, and I felt all the more menacing for it. The masks are properly grim too, kind of like baby masks but deformed. The horror early in the film comes from some well-timed jump scares, which escalates to more jump scares and some creepy home invasion just before the killing starts.
The violence is bloody, and at times brutal. The body count isn’t excessive, so the film makes you work for it, but by and large everybody that gets slashed goes out in style. I was actually very impressed with the intensity of some of these scenes, which again were reminiscent of the more violent deaths enjoyed from classic slashers.
However, I wasn’t enamoured with every aspect of what ‘Blessed are the Children’ had to offer, and overall, I do harbour a somewhat contrasting opinion of other elements of the film (hence the 3-stars). Two, fairly substantial things, pace and characters – which incidentally end up as one big issue by the films conclusion.
I did not get on board with the characters at all. Their decisions bizarre, their dialogue grating. On paper, the characters are diverse and potentially interesting, but by and large each conversation saw the group somewhat one dimensional, and seemingly obsessed with getting laid or talking about getting laid; indeed, despite how poor their decisions had been up to that point with abusive relationships and abortions, this adolescent tone (which admittedly works well in more campy slasher films) seemed out of place. In elongated scenes of dialogue, which there are quite a few, the change in style and tone from the exceptional aforementioned horror elements of the movie, threatened to derail the atmosphere which had been created around them. The acting isn’t bad, but not great either, and they weren’t helped by the script. That said, it’s an interesting twist on conventional viewing emotions- I couldn’t wait for these girls to die!
The pace was not helped by the above either, and with a run time of 1 hour 38 minutes, the editing could have been slicker, and the script tighter. There are some elements in the first 40 minutes or so which would not have been missed had they ended up on the cutting room floor.
Overall, and despite this, ‘Blessed are the Children’ has a charm. It’s one of those movies which I felt had the right atmosphere, and its climax is worth the wait, despite the issues I had with the characters (very subjective I might add). If you are a fan of slower paced, more atmospheric slasher movies this is a modern example well worth seeking out.