Children of Sorrow (2013)
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Favorite Movie Quote: "I Love You, Father"
Twelve lost souls and a charismatic religious who has elevated himself to near deity status.
Someone WILL be drinking the Kool-Aid!
CHILDREN of SORROW, the latest entry by director Jourdan McClure and writer Ryan Finnerty into organic horror is a chilling study in the evolution of a cultist. Ellen (Hannah Levien) has lost her sister. Her last known location is a compound in Mexico where she left to "find herself." Father Simon Leach (Matchflick's Horror Icon Bill Oberst, Jr., whose name is a prophetic prelude for what is to come) is the compound's spiritual leader, and accepts her as part of the fold. At first she is reticent, but reluctantly incorporates herself into the compound. The other "family members" seem joyous, loving and cohesive, happily going about their chores, and existing in peace and harmony.
As the days wear on, the facade of peace and harmony is slowly scraped away, and each "family member's "weakness" is exploited to the advantage of Father Simon, who uses their weaknesses, strips them down, mentally, morally, emotionally, and physically, until they are completely crushed and empty, ready for Simon to fill that void with - him. Ellen, originally the outsider, is sucked into Simon's charisma and lies, in it's thin veil of the truth. As a villain, Father Simon takes the absolute, the very worst of Charles Manson, David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Marshall Applewhite, extracts whatever moral core they might still have, destroys that and flushes it down the toilet. So complete is his control over his "family," that they commit the most horrendous acts. And considering that all the action takes place solely at the compound and the entire cast never leaves, well, you do the math.
The ensemble cast put everything into their emotionally draining performances, but it is Oberst's Father Simon that dominates the movie. Underneath his expressions of love and concern, is a terrifyingly evil man. Self-hating, his true personality is exposed as his private video camera shows a man who is in polar contrast to the philosophy he preaches.. The movie is shot in three perspectives - all POV. The first is Father Simon and his ever-present video recorder. His skill with the camera is steady and professional. The second are the security cameras that are also everywhere. The third perspective is one that shows an inexperienced mystery user, more of a Video Everyman, but still controlled by Simon. The "family's" devolution from vacuously blissful, to nervous confusion, to total resolute devotion is magnified with every ultra close-up of the omnipresent video eye. In a way, it is similar to Marine training, where the recruit is stripped of all his former past, to be filled with Marine dogma. Simon's indoctrination is similar, but the results are much more devastating. At the end of the film, your understanding of the cult psyche will be frighteningly clearer.
On my personal rating scale of with "5" being drop everything and see the movie now; if you're female, bear the producers' children and "0" being burn down the theater, murder the movie staff, and violate their dog, this movie earns a horrifying "5," and even though this film would usually be skewed for independent movies, this film deserves an unqualified rating - no Bell Curve. CHILDREN of SORROW is a study in true horror. True horror to this reviewer can best be explained by example: cheap horror, as in the Big Box Franchises can be compared to a balloon popping behind your back. A quick pop, and quick start, and it's over. True horror can be compared to a 12-gauge shotgun aimed at your face, with a timer on the trigger. The terror builds and builds until the inevitable resolution. It's a terror that lingers, and that, in this reviewer's opinion is true horror. No CG, no FX, no gimmicks, just the performances of an astonishing ensemble cast. That's entertainment!
CHILDREN of HORROR is currently unrated, but it has coarse language, minimal gore, but copious bloodletting, scenes of simulated sex, self-immolation, homoertica, and frontal nudity (don't ask). The tentative release date is scheduled for 2013.
Throw away the sippy drink and fill your flagon with a real drink of horror.
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