SHUDDER AND SHRIEK: a devil child, a witch, and kidnapped kids

There’s a whole lot of trouble for young boys in this trio I checked out on Shudder. Let’s see what you can expect from each one.

SON (2021)

This polished “son of Satan” flick from the director of The Canal stars Laurie Strode’s granddaughter Allyson as a single mom who enters her young son’s room one night to discover a horrific sight; a cult she fell victim to as a child is back again and after her boy.

Disrupting the abduction, she soon finds her son having bad attacks—puking blood, rashes, and convulsions.

As doctors struggle to figure out what’s wrong with him, she finds figures it out the gory way…he’s hungry.

This turns into The Omen meets Let The Right One In as she takes her ravenous son on the run to keep him alive while trying to delve into what exactly happened to her as a child and how history might be repeating itself.

Thing is, her traumatic past might be all in her head, and the audience begins to question everything she sees that scares her or keeps her on the run.

It takes some time to get to the final act when she finally confronts her demons, and the film does become a bit repetitive and drags for a while, but there’s definitely a satisfying payoff at the end.

SLAPFACE (2021)

The odd title of this film is so apropos, because by the time it ends it feels like a slap in the face.

I really loved the classic tone as seen through the eyes of a young kid. It’s very 1980s, and stories about young, vulnerable kids facing horrors on their own always seem to be the most terrifying (as Stephen King has shown us time after time).

The story is about a young boy and his older brother, who live alone after the death of their parents. They regularly play a game in which they just keep slapping each other in the face.

But the younger brother is lonely, especially because the older brother is pulling away from him to spend more time with a girlfriend. So the young brother becomes a doormat for three girls that bully him relentlessly just so that he can be their friend.

This leads to an initiation in which he is forced to go into an abandoned building. Inside he is attacked by a frightening witch. This is how you do a witch right.

However, the tide turns and the boy sort of befriends the witch. Understand that this is not a speaking witch. It’s just a form cloaked in black rags and dark, shadowy silhouettes. EEK!

This is where things get sad. On the one hand, you could see this as a tale of two outsiders finding each other. But this witch is never presented as likable. In fact, she’s terrifying, touches the boy in a way that seems quite inappropriate at one point, and does awful things to anyone she thinks is harming him. Unfortunately, in doing so she is literally removing the only people he has in his life, so she’s not actually doing him any favors. It’s not exactly My Bodyguard

A PSA about bullying at the end of the film just pours salt in the wound considering the entire trajectory of this movie is a total downer.

THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR (2020)

This is a very simple plot that pits two boys against a kidnapper in a game of cat and mouse.

The boys are tossing a baseball back and forth when it rolls off into the woods. They go to fetch it and are abducted.

Lonnie Chavis, who plays Young Randall on This Is Us, is excellent in his role as the boy who gets away and has to figure out how to rescue his locked up buddy.

However, this is a cliché scenario as he lurks around the house trying to stay out of the kidnapper’s sights, and it just didn’t push me to the edge of my seat. Maybe if the purpose of the kidnapping had been revealed earlier it would have amplified the urgency.

That also might explain why the feeling  of the film intensifies in the second half. Pam from True Blood arrives midway through the film with an axe and gets drawn into a battle of wits with the boys. It is quite satisfying as the boys fight back big time.

 

 

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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