“ Genre: Horror / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Jake Johnson / Actors: Boo Boo Stewart, Adam Vincent, Sarah Lieving, Rodney Bowman, Nora Jesse ... / DVD released 2006-09-11 at Lighthouse DVD Distribution / Features of the DVD: Director's Cut, Full Screen, PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Erika Lawson is an anchor for a news channel, whose career is going from strength to strength. Happily married to her cameraman husband, Scott, when a child is left orphaned following a plane crash, she persuades Scott to adopt the child, Donald. Donald moves in and all seems to be going well; while Erika and Scott are out at work, Scott's father, Jake, cares for Donald. However, Jake is soon beginning to see another side of Donald, especially when he stabs a dentist and a dental technician in the eyes after they try to give him treatment. Jake later dies horribly, when a ceiling fan comes lose and finishes him off. Then a nanny called Lucy moves in and Scott is relieved that she and Donald immediately hit it off. Something is not right with Donald though and Scott is beginning to realise it. Can he find out what is wrong and put a stop to it before it is too late?
As a budget horror, expectations were low for this film, and it was really just as well. Horrible devil children are a common feature in horror films, but there are any number that have been done much better than in this 2006 version. The child, Donald, is played by BooBoo Stewart - rather an unfortunate first name for an child actor who has so obviously made a career booboo. To be fair, he isn't terrible as Donald; he acts like a child who could do with some serious discipline, so it is not difficult to dislike him. However, the soulful stares over all that he surveys are boring and could have been handled so much more intelligently, both by the actor himself and the director. The fact that he is performing in a pretty terrible film in general really doesn't help matters.
Scott and Erika are played by Adam Vincent and Sarah Lieving. Scott has the larger role and is adequate in it; he really does the best that he can. He really does look devastated by the loss of his father and, towards the end of the film when he begins to realise what is going on, it does seem as if he is really into the role. I was less sure of Sarah Lieving. Erika has a personality transplant half way through the film. She begins it as an ambitious, but likeable, news reporter, but becomes more and more of a cow throughout the film, although the reason for this is completely unclear. Her character was supposed to engender sympathy, but really fell completely flat. This is possibly not the actress' fault, but it nevertheless doesn't work.
The nanny, played by Nora Jesse, is just strange. She is another character that likes to give long, soulful stares into the distance, often while holding hands with Donald. She presumably has some link with the devil, but it isn't explained and, apart from being a potential love interest for Scott (she tries to seduce him), there doesn't seem to be much of a point to her character at all. I felt momentary sympathy for Jake, Scott's father, for having to babysit such a horror of a child, but the Bob McEwen's performance was generally so awful that it didn't last for long.
This is generally a very weak story that a ten year old could have made up in ten minutes. There is a vague attempt to explain why Donald is the way he is - some Bible verses are spouted at us - but it just wasn't good enough to draw the majority of viewers in. There are obvious similarities to be made with The Omen, but this just comes off a very poor alternative. Something needs to be right in a film to please the audience to a certain extent - that can be the story, the action or the acting - but when none of these elements are pleasing, it results in a very poor quality film. Only fans of budget horror are going to be able to sit through this, and then copious amounts of alcohol are probably needed.
The special effects are, you've guessed it, terrible. The worst one was when Donald stabs the dentist and his technician in the eye - the blood spurts out like coloured water and doesn't look in the slightest bit realistic. It doesn't even look as if it is coming from their eyes. The special effects that follow are just as weak; thankfully though, much is left to the viewer's imagination. Nevertheless, for a film made as recently as 2006, the effects really aren't good enough - except for a school child's film project perhaps. Had the atmosphere been built up a little more effectively, the poor effects might have been covered up, but unfortunately, there is very little to be scared by in this film.
The only special features are adverts for other horror films. There is no explanation of how the director's cut is different from the other version, although I suspect it is because it is bloodier; the other version has 15 rating on it.
This is a film for the hopeful budget horror fan only. If you are the sort to sit down expecting that the film will be good, or else you'll switch off, then you won't get very far. You need to have the patience (or stupidity) to keep watching in the hope that it will get better. There are certainly much worse films out there, but there are also much much better ones, so unless you can watch this for free, I really can't recommend it. Two stars out of five - and that is only because Adam Vincent wasn't completely awful.
The DVD is available from play.com for £11.99. Don't do it. Mine was £1 from a car boot and even that was too much.
Running time: 80 minutes