A remake of Who Can Kill a Child?, Come Out and Play is not nearly as dangerous and boundary-pushing as it needs to be. In fact, it’s a pretty by-the-numbers re-telling of Narciso Ibanez Serrador 1976’s killer kid flick that will likely bore the viewer than instill any sort of dread.
It lacks any sort of flavor to set itself apart from far superior films of this ilk like – to name drop something recent – the UK offering The Children which kept you on the edge of your seat from the first act. Here, the director known only as Makinov (who reportedly had his face disguised all through production) meanders through a story that misses opportunities, plays it rather safe and fails to make the film’s main threat scary.
Similar to the original, we follow an American couple – Francis and Beth (Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Vinessa Shaw, respectively) – on holiday. They travel to an island off the coast of Mexico only to discover all of the adults have been killed and that there is something very, very wrong with the children.
Much of Come Out and Play is about discovery. Discovery of the children. Discovery of empty homes and shops. Discovery of the dead adults. Discovery of a CB radio and the voice coming through its speaker (but who is it and what language are they talking?). And Makinov milks every…single…moment, padding out the events without substance or tension.
When the children do go on the attack, things pick up significantly and Makinov introduces a particular danger to the pregnant Beth that is rather nasty. Still, he doesn’t take things as far as he should. Sure, as a dirty mob, the children are imposing, but there’s restraint to their attacks.
Moss-Bachrach and Shaw elevate the material with good performances and, more importantly, their characters don’t make (too many) stupid decisions. Come Out and Play is, ultimately, a banal thriller that delivers the goods too late in the game.
It’s not terrible, it just has no reason for being.