Who can kill a child? We are presented with this question early on in Come Out And Play, and it’s also an homage to the Spanish 1976 original. The mononymous first-time director Makinov captures the type of setting which we acknowledge exists but are thankful that our children don’t grow up there–a remote, fictitious island called Almanzora, on the southern coast of Spain. His film can’t shake a tone that almost insists on being released straight to DVD. However, for a guilty pleasure-loving, independent horror fan, Come Out And Play is a fine selection.
The film opens on Francis wandering through a parade on the streets of the mainland. He is played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Mona Lisa Smile, The Lake House), who is a notch above serviceable. His wife, Beth, is expecting their first child. She is played by a radiant Vinessa Shaw (The Hills Have Eyes, 3:10 to Yuma). They rent a boat to take to the island, but because it’s a horror movie, there is only enough gas for a one-way trip. I think, perhaps, the nice fellow who was going there the next day for a meat delivery would also deliver gas? Could they not just carry and extra tank with them? Why does Beth suspect that they don’t have enough gas, and why does Francis lie about it? Does any of this ever come back around into the story? Nope.
The most powerful acting (especially noteworthy in a horror film) comes from Spanish star Daniel Gimenez Cacho. He first appears as a potential threat to Francis and Beth as a broken bottle-wielding native who hasn’t yet fallen victim to these weird-ass kids. I’m not sure why one man with a bottle can frighten two people (who are themselves carrying larger weapons) to a point where they are submissive and practically immobilized, but maybe he just has one of those faces. Fluent in Spanish, Francis is able to resolve this particular predicament. Moss-Bachrach and Shaw’s are particularly outstanding when acting as if the children (even at first) are not the most unfriendly little bastards anyone’s ever seen. The “piscador” on the dock wouldn’t speak and he certainly wouldn’t let Francis look in his bait box. But still smile and wave at him later.
Its shortcomings aside, Come Out And Play does reward our patience and forgiving nature with a riveting second half featuring incredibly gross images that you don’t see much in even the scariest films these days. Makinov doesn’t subscribe to the concept that the most thrilling moments are in the build-up. Just one example is a child carrying around a severed head. It gets worse than that. The director has a heavy hand, which is excellent in parts, but a little too heavy in others. He is clearly founding a reputation that won’t go unnoticed. Even though a few dots are left unconnected (we don’t ever learn what’s wrong with the children), and despite little backstory, the film is perfectly enjoyable and entertaining in its fast pace and gruesomeness. Still, their vacation would’ve been the worst of all time even if it went exactly as planned.