Plenty of bad horror movies go all-in on their title card. You know the drill, a sudden musical sting and then the screen is full with maximally fonted letters, left there for longer than it takes to actually read them because this is the title of the movie and you’re gonna look at it, goddammit, for as long as the director leaves it there.
Roxanne Benjamin gives you one such title card at the outset of There’s Something Wrong with the Children. A powerful synth sting, lots of awkward slo-mo leading up to it, huge green screen-obscuring letters in a font that would make John Carpenter proud:
Honestly, it looks powerfully amateurish and I might have noped out at this point except that I recognized Benjamin’s name from Southbound, a solid horror anthology with something few horror anthologies have: a sense of identity.
And that’s how I came to watch There’s Something Wrong with the Children, which does something very few horror movies of its caliber can manage. It is – through-and-through and without reservation, apology, or hesitation --cosmic horror. It’s about the four main characters, and it spends time developing them because you need to see how it’s also going to dismantle them. But it never turns into something dumb like a slasher movie, or a zombie movie, or a ghost story, or any of the usual tropes that manage to suck in most indie horror. Benjamin keeps it squarely cosmic within the context of this modest script, letting actors instead of latex and CG convey the horror.
It might be a bit slower than you expect from a movie with a title – and title card – this dramatic, but I assure you that’s it is going to some, uh, intriguing places. In the end, it earns its title card, just like it earns that absurd slo-mo in the beginning.
Anyway, I really liked this, and I figure if a few more of you see it, we could maybe have a spoilery discussion about “dead bugs” and such. Here’s where you can watch it: