A Horror Film Still In Gestation

Ultimately, it’s the film’s story that underserves its compelling concept. Co-written by T.J. Cimfel and David White, “There’s Something Wrong with the Children” opens with an intriguing premise. Margaret and Ben (Zach Gilford) are on a weekend vacation in the woods with their friends Ellie (Amanda Crew) and Thomas (Carlos Santos) and their two children, Lucy (Briella Guiza) and Spencer (David Mattle). With a cabin in the woods and a minimal cast, the film has the perfect setup for relying on interpersonal dynamics, shared histories, and undisclosed secrets to absolutely wreck everyone’s lives. As copious amounts of wine and beer pour, it’s hard not to root for a (or many) conflicts to take centerstage. Crew, Santos, Gilford, and Wainwright interact with the ease of decades-long friendships, which only makes viewers wonder and crave the inevitable mistake or falling out that will occur.

But then, a mystery box-like premise emerges. The families go into the woods and discover a tucked-away ruin with a bright light that only the children can see. Following this occurrence, the children start to act strangely. However, only Ben senses this, and due to his manic history, no one (including his wife, Margaret) believes him. But we only learn of his mental illness when he has to be believed — a tired and frustrating horror trope that undermines his character. Despite their concerns (read: insults) about his instability, no one previously cared that he’s been taking Lithium while handing him beers, weed, and tequila.

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