I’m no parent, and I’ve never been all that interested in visited Mexico or the greater Caribbean; but if COME OUT AND PLAY is any indication, then maybe I’ve made some pretty wise choices in my life. From what I’ve been told, kids can be such a handful – always wanting this, always wanting that, a constant source of fun and frustration. When they’re young, they can’t care for themselves, can’t much fend for themselves. The kids of COME OUT AND PLAY, though, are all doing just fine on their own. They’re doing better than fine. They’re behaving downright felonious.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come’, then read on …)
Beth (played by Vinessa Shaw) and Francis (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) are vacationing in Mexico, trying to squeeze in some quality ‘lovebird’ time before the arrival of their third child. Down the coast, there’s an even more idyllic spot, and Francis finagles a boat from a local resident so that they can spirit themselves to the coastal paradise. Once they get there, they find the place mostly deserted, though there are a few children playing on the docks, in the streets, and on the beach. What starts out as a casual ‘escape’ turns into a struggle for survival against curiously mounting odds as they discover that these children are nothing short of bloody murderers!
An Official Selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, COME OUT AND PLAY will likely give vacationing parents nightmares that’ll keep them awake forever. There isn’t much to say about a horror film of this nature, and that’s because the cinematic ‘slight of hand’ is all up on display in the presentation. Elusive director Makinov (Google him if you want to know the real story) directs from a script adapted from a ‘cult’ novel by Juan Jose Plans. For my tastes, it reminds me so much of what Alfred Hitchcock used to accomplish in film: present a very real-world scenario, and then turn it all on its head.
Like in THE BIRDS, our ‘heroes’ seek out and find a tranquil place to enjoy a holiday, but that tranquility begins to fade away as they continue to question their surroundings. It doesn’t take long before their questions turn into suspicions. Witnessing a full-blown assault puts them back on their heels, and then seeing a murder take place puts them on the run. Like the audience, they don’t want to believe this is possible – they don’t even much stop to hypothesize how it all may’ve gone wrong – but that’s because they’re trapped in this terror they didn’t create, and there’s no way out.
The performances are all solid (for these circumstances), and the setting is scarily perfect. Granted, the ‘science’ of it all doesn’t much get explained, but that’s because to do so would remove the ‘magic’ element of the story. With some horror films, you’re never meant to look too closely – you’re not supposed to know just how it all came to be – you’re only destined to sit back and enjoy the ride.
COME OUT AND PLAY is produced by Canana Films and Videocine S.A. de C.V. DVD distribution is being handled by Cinedigm, a New Video company. As for the technical specifications, it all looks and sounds about as well as any other horror release I’ve seen in the last few years. For those needing it spelled out perfectly, this is an English language picture but there are sections of the film that are heavily spoken in Spanish and even a few other broken languages. As for the special features, there’s a behind-the-scenes short along with some cast interviews and some deleted scenes – it’s a nice assortment if this is your deal (which is to say that you like unconventional horror flicks that may not survive too much close scrutiny).
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I can appreciate a good horror flick as much as the next person, and COME OUT AND PLAY certainly fits the bill. It certainly raises enough questions that go unanswered to turn some viewers off, but there’s a healthy (or is that unhealthy?) atmosphere of consistently mounting dread for our two protagonists in much the same way Alfred Hitchcock constructed in his seminal THE BIRDS only, this time, it ain’t birds you have to watch out for: it’s the children. Watch out for the children. Let’s do it for the children. Who’d a thunk those them there kids would be so ungrateful?
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at New Video provided me with a DVD copy of COME OUT AND PLAY by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.