WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (1976) – The Dungeon Review!
While searching for Spanish horror the one film that seemed to consistently pop up was Who Can Kill A Child? The title instantly intrigued me as I do love a good killer kid flick. Even more fun than a killer kid is a whole swarm of killer kids! How about a whole damn island of killer kids?!
Tom and Evelyn are a happily married couple vacationing in Spain and are expecting their first child. In hopes of finding some peace and quiet in the midst of a local celebration, they decide to seek out a resort town Tom visited 10 years previous called Almanzora. Despite some unsettling news about dead bodies washing up on the shore the two decide to rent a boat and seek out what they hope will be a more serene destination. As they drift towards the Island they see a small group of children playing. Once on the island however, they are surprised to find all the businesses empty and not an adult in sight. They think nothing of it initially, but as they search the island for signs of life they discover more children. But the reality of the situation becomes sickeningly clear when they run into a group of rugrats playing piñata with an adult body.
Who doesn’t love bashing a piñata?! It is pretty clear something is afoot on the island well before we see the kids bashing papa piñata but this visual revelation sure does make an impact! The discovery is fairly early in the couple’s journey and of course things get uglier from here. The film has a great intensity and atmosphere which is extra impressive considering the films action takes place in broad daylight. The violence is bathed in sunshine and is complimented by a great score featuring children’s “la,la,la’s”. The film pulls no punches and doesn’t back down from its violence on account of the kiddies. Although the violence isn’t particularly graphic there are scenes that will shock and surprise and the ending is absolutely brilliant!
During the films opening credit sequence we are shown actual footage of the holocaust and various other wars driving home the point that it is children who suffer the most during these adult made atrocities. The clips end with a starving African baby and then segue into the story by showing a shot of a chubby little white kid playing on the beach. It’s an interesting social statement although it did feel a little heavy handed. This is really the closest thing you get to any kind of explanation as to why the children have become little killers. Is there something in the makeup of the children that makes them exact revenge on behalf of those that came before them? Is it something in the water or air? Did they watch a history channel marathon? You really just don’t know. There are more than a few great horror films that offer vague or little explanation to its onscreen action but are nonetheless effective. Who Can Kill A Child? definitely falls into this category. The lack of information actually adds an additional chilliness to the proceedings. If this could happen on this island couldn’t it happen anywhere? Could a loving parent ever consider killing their own child to defend themselves? Clearly the parents on this island could not bring themselves to hurt the little ones.
Lewis Fiander and Prunella Ransome are perfect in their role as British tourists Tom and Evelyn. The couple is quite likeable and the dialog and chemistry between the two felt easy and realistic. The film focuses on their discoveries and the actions they take in response. Making Evelyn six months pregnant added an interesting depth. Soon to be parents themselves will they be able to hurt a child to defend themselves? There is one particularly creepy scene where Evelyn’s pregnancy is used to great effect. Evelyn is waiting for Tom in an empty bar and a little girl approaches her and touches her pregnant belly doing nothing more than smile slyly. A simple scene that chilled my shit! By the time the final credits role you get the answer to the titular question of Who Can Kill A Child?
Who Can Kill A Child? is a well-filmed, fascinating, atmospheric and intense mystery that warns to heed the little voices or one day they might just combine resources and finish us all. A great lesser known horror film that is definitely worth seeking out. Highly recommended!
Dungeon Rating: 4.5/5
Directed By: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
Starring: Lewis Fiander, Prunella Ransome, Antonio Iranzo, Miguel Narros, María Luisa Arias, Marisa Porcel, Juan Cazalilla, Luis Ciges