I see lots of threads where Tom mentions this film but it doesn’t appear to have its own thread which is a terrible shame as it’s is one of the darkest and best horror films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s genius lies in very realistic escalations of tension and none of the characters behaving particularly stupidly.
The film has a hopelessly bleak ending that promises only the endless continuation of a cycle of misery with violence passed from father to son. The real horror in the film come from the social power that children wield by being able to combine being violent agressors while they are venerated as infallible paragons.
There is a dangerous cognative dissonance in the adults in the film, first observed in the woman in the cafe who abrubtly says ‘Not my kids’ when the husband mentions that they have had their tire punctured. It’s seen again when the heroine fights back against one of the children who have been hunting her and then immediately regrets it. Then finally evident again in the ending when the chief bully arrives back at his parents home and presents his innocent version of events. The kids know about this cognative dissonance and ruthlessly exploit it and it is more powerful and terrifying than any of the brutal violence in the film.
The story also taps smartly into a lot of contemporary unease, at least in the UK, and with each believeable escalation begs the question what would you do differently in the same situaton?