“A simple night of babysitting takes a horrifying turn when Helen realizes the boogeyman really is in little Lucas’ closet.” — IMDb
Child Eater started as a short back in 2012. Icelandic director Erlingur Thoroddsen later put it on Kickstarter in hopes of getting enough financial backing to make it into a feature film, and raised $15,000 this way, releasing it in 2016. I watched the full film and then the short later in the day and, honestly, while the full length version was very similar to its origin, I thought the short was better in many ways.
The plot centers largely on Helen (Cait Bliss), the newly pregnant daughter of the local sheriff. Her father volunteers her for a night of babysitting for a man who just moved into town, which is where she meets Lucas (Colin Critchley), a bird-watching boy who has a very active imagination when it comes to believing he is being watched and stalked by a boogeyman. But before long she realizes it isn’t just in his mind…
** SPOILERS! **
I know that the name — the simple title — of a movie has no real bearing on its quality, but Child Eater caught my eye in two different ways. I was scrolling through Amazon just looking for something new and simultaneously thought “huh, that’s kind of a silly name” and “oh, a monster who eats children is pretty intriguing”. Unfortunately the villain in this film doesn’t really do a whole lot of child eating at all. What gives?
The acting was kind of hit or miss. I actually thought Colin Critchley, the one child actor, was arguably the best. And, surprisingly, I thought Cait Bliss, who plays the babysitter, Helen, was a bit better — or at least more natural — in the short. But the father was forgettable, the entire police force was laughable, and Helen’s ex-boyfriend (or whoever he actually was) was just dead weight. Ultimately things were pretty cliché and stiff, with such classic lines as “I’m pregnant” and “I was the one that got away” and “They thought he was dead… but evil never dies” and “This ends now” ALL uttered at one point or another.
The one funny realization I had while watching this was thinking about how much I would have a hard time soothing my own scared child. In any movie like this the kid says “there’s a monster in my closet!” and the babysitter or parent says, with no doubt in their mind, “of course there isn’t” and is content to just leave the room. I would be ALL UP IN THAT CLOSET and making sure I peeked around the curtains and under the bed, too, and then sitting on the edge of the kid’s bed discussing theories of how we think the monster got in and out so stealthily. Probably not healthy for either of us.
The boogey man himself, Robert Bowery (Jason Martin) looks sort of cool and almost troll-like the first few times we see him… but, as is often the case with lower budget films, he lost some of his fright factor when we saw him in more light and realized he more closely resembles a thinner and older Morpheus. I wish he had more back story to kind of flesh out his character a bit. Initially you think he’s just a regular (albeit sadistic) old man, but then he’s taking multiple bullets and still running after people and we’ve got this story about a black stork calling babies up to a hill so he can pluck their eyes out and things get a bit jumbled.
Ultimately, the short did more for me because I feel like the story was fine in a more abbreviated delivery. If the feature film had done more to explain Robert Bowery’s character or motivation, fleshed out the other characters, or really done anything more than just having people running through the woods it may have changed my mind. But, sadly, not a huge fan.
Rating: 3/10 | Director: Erlingur Thoroddsen | Writer: Erlingur Thoroddsen | Music: Einar Sv. Tryggvason | Cinematography: John Wakayama Carey | Starring: Cait Bliss, Colin Critchley, Jason Martin, Dave Klasko, Melinda Chilton, Brandon Smalls, James Wilcox