Who Can Kill A Child? Narcisco Ibáñez Serrador

You know the old saying "kids ruin everything”? Well, in this long out-of-print and once banned Spanish flick, kids not only ruin everything but also kill everyone. Yes, all the homework and hand washing before dinner finally got to the children of the Isle of Almanzora. When Brits Tom and his pregnant wife Evelyn visit the small island off the Spanish coast they’re quick to notice that not only are there only children around but there’s a haunting, unsettling vibe throughout the town: mysterious phone calls, abandoned buildings, unsupervised tots. And it hits them, literally, that if they’re going to survive, it’s going to come with a lot of children’s blood on their hands. Unlike the brazen Children of the Corn, however, Who Can Kill A Child? (Quién puede matar a un niño?) waves a moral compass in the face of the viewer. The twist is that the horror isn’t so much from the murderous children but the thought of killing a child in turn. Whether they’re playing piñata with an old man’s bloody corpse or using body parts for fishing bait, the innocence always seems to favour the kiddies. Even the couple’s unborn baby seems in on the conspiracy (yes, for real). As always, there are numerous unanswered questions: what turned them into killers? What’s the cut off age? When you reach that age are you automatically eligible for death? And how does repopulation work if everyone is supposed to stay young? The ending is one hell of a shocker (especially in 1976) and Serrador’s relentlessness is commendable. Inspired by The Birds and Night of the Living Dead (according to a featurette interview with cinematographer José Luis Alcaine), Who Can Kill A Child? is a creepy, ruthless thriller that’s damaging to the reputation of rug rats. Trust me, one screening and you’ll never hear children’s laughter the same way again. Plus: interview with Narcisco Ibáñez Serrador. (Dark Sky)