Monsters that lurk in the dark, hiding in closets and under the bed are scary, but child psychopaths are far more frightening.
David (Adrian Pasdar) and Clare (Cady McClain) just moved to the isolation of the country with their son David (Austin Williams) and daughter Emily (Amber Joy Williams). Clare bought a new video camera to assist in her work but most of the time it’s in David’s hands recording precious family moments. But as time progresses, it becomes clear there is something seriously wrong with their kids. Both parents look to their occupations for a solution: David, a Lutheran pastor, attempts to exorcise the twins; Clare, a psychiatrist, tries to medicate them. But the kids have plans of their own.
This film addresses several issues of child-rearing quite successfully. First, there is a question of nature versus nurture: are the kids inherently evil or is there an outside influence, supernatural or otherwise? It deals with the over-medication of children, as many parents try to manage behavioural problems with drugs. And to some extent, it touches on the effects of forcing religion on children.
The first perspective narrative works near perfectly in this story, as it allows the audience to share in the horror of the parents as they watch their kids crossover to the darkside. The filmmakers admit to taking a few liberties by stylizing the lighting or framing sometimes but its barely noticeable. Conversely, they emphasize the realism of found footage by rewinding or fast-forwarding at times.
Pasdar turns in a great performance as the frustrated father. He glides effortlessly through a wide-range of emotions: from goofy to frustrated to scared. The kids are real-life siblings and work incredibly well together. They convincingly express the children’s seeming ability to communicate without speaking, which really boosts the creep factor. McClain often appears weak or ignorant despite her training, which causes her turnaround to look almost comedic.
If done well, sinister offspring make great subjects of spine-chilling horror. Home Movie is a success story.