It’s time to look at a relatively old film that you probably haven’t heard of. Be warned though, the main characters are a group of kids so…..that already puts the film in a bit of a sticky situation. I don’t want to say that kids can’t hold their own films…but they can’t hold their own films. It’s definitely a movie that I recommend staying far away from unless you love having a ton of drama thrown at you.
The film starts off with a lot of kids running around a house. The 3 oldest ones are the only ones who seem to be fairly calm, but this changes once the mother finally dies from her illness. Now they have to decide what to do. The main character Elsa decides that they won’t tell anyone and the kids can survive on their own. It’s probably not her best idea, but the kids decide to roll with it. At first things are going well enough, but then some of the kids start letting the power get to their heads and become cruel. Will Elsa simply watch as this all happens?
Part of why this is a really bad film is because there are no likable characters. All of the kids are pretty shady and even the ones who are supposed to be heroic just don’t have the courage to stand up and fight for what’s right. A good example of this is Hubert. He’s one of the oldest kids and usually comes up with the more reasonable ideas, but backs down when it counts. One example of this is when Gerty talks to a stranger and the kids decide to punish her. He just watches as they force her down and cut her hair. Gerty probably could have tried defending herself more, but at that point it becomes more victim blaming then anything else. Keep in mind that she’s one of the younger kids so there really isn’t much she could do. It was up to Hubert or Elsa to protect her and since nobody did anything, they’re all guilty.
You won’t be able to take any of the characters seriously as protagonists by this point, although for most the time had already come and gone anyway. One of the kids is always yelling about how everyone’s going straight to hell and another one hears voices in her head. Elsa is determined to be the best kid out there so she doesn’t have time for the others and Hubert gets pushed around by everyone. Gerty is nice enough, but she should have ditched the other kids and gone straight to the police. It’s at the point where you’re just waiting for the cops to run in and stop them.
Then of course we have the Dad who comes in later on. Naturally he’s not a nice fellow either so don’t expect him to come riding in on a white horse to save the day. He’s just here to add in more drama and the characters are pretty gullible so this works out well for him. The plot twist about the mother also adds in the extra drama. At the end of the day the main problem with the film is that it’s just very mean spirited. There are no real winners here. Everyone is basically corrupt and of course you’ll have a hard time buying the ending where a kid takes on a grown up. Sure, it’s not a full fight as that would be crazy, but even as far as sneak attacks go it just makes the grownup look pretty bad.
There may have been some decent ideas in here, but they were all buried by the film. At the end of the day, you can’t really do a long drama film about a pack of kids. There is only so much that they can do and they’re also just too young. Most of their big appearances are just the kids trying to shout over each other so there isn’t much actual dialogue. It’s really just a contest of who can be the loudest with the most dominating personality. Then you’v also got the really random plot where a kid decides to join the main cast as he ran away from home. I don’t see the point of this plot and it ultimately didn’t add anything to the film. What that tells me is by this point the writers had basically finished the script for the whole movie, but needed something to extend the run time. That works about as well as you would expect.
Overall, Even though this is a pretty old film I can’t say that the writing was all that good. The film never gets particularly engaging and the drama is pretty forced. The characters definitely cry a lot and get pretty emotional, but the dynamic doesn’t work nearly as well as it would if they were full fledged adults. To do a proper remake of this you would need the kids to be around 16-17. That way they’re still minors so the overall plot makes sense (If they’re of legal age then they could just take custody of the house) but this way they’re old enough to actually reason and make some plans. There’s a lot you could do with this plot if you actually try. This one did not though so I recommend changing gears and watching the 90’s Sonic The Hedgehog movie instead.