Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Devil Times Five (1974)

Three couples go on vacation to an isolated mountain lodge.  Each of the couples has its troubles, often caused - or at least exacerbated by - their relationship with the other pairs.

These everyday squabbles aren't going to matter very much in the near future, however, as five children trudge out of the wilderness to the lodge.  They explain that they are survivors of a bus crash and the adults take them in.  Attempts to contact the authorities fail because the phone lines are out, but the adults aren't too concerned.  They've enough food to look after the kids for a few days if need be.

Of course, if the grown-ups knew what the audience does - that the five children are from a mental institution and have already murdered their bus driver - they might be feeling less sanguine.

Yep, this is a killer kiddie flick, a genre that stretches back at least to the 1950s (The Bad Seed) but which probably reached its popular zenith a couple of years after this movie with the (in my opinion, overrated) The Omen.

The child actors in this are pretty good, doing a decent job of conveying an unsettling wrongness to their characters without mugging for the camera.  And some of the kill scenes are quite inventive, albeit very contrived.  Where the film founders though is in making you really care whether the adults survive or get murdered.  Most of them are not terribly likable people.

This is a bleak little curiousity, but it's not engaging enough for me to recommend it.

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