Director: Pascal Franchot
Year of release: 1998
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 91 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "Beware the games he plays" and "Remember, Jason and Freddy were kids once too".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Five young girls begin playing with an odd child of their own age named Milo. Being the son of the town gynaecologist Milo lures his new playmates to the secluded mansion type estate of his father which also seems to double up as a business practice. An innocent child’s game proceeds which quickly turns sinister with Milo murdering one of the girls as well as seriously injuring another.
Many years later, Claire, the girl injured in the attack has moved away while the offending Milo apparently drowned in an accident shortly after his nefarious actions.
Claire is drawn back into town for the upcoming wedding of one of her old friends. This friend as it turns out is one of the kids involved in the Milo incident years ago with the other girls left alive all remaining in town as well. No sooner has Claire arrived back before she is hit with the bad news that the wedding won’t be going ahead after all. The bride to be was tragically killed in a car accident a day or so before. Sticking around for a while anyway Claire soon begins to worry she may be loosing her mind after she comes to the belie she’s being stalked by the Milo kid from her childhood. Making things more bizarre is that the Milo remains as he was as a child.
When her remaining friends begin disappearing in strange and suspicious circumstances Claire realises Milo is looking to finish what he started years ago.
Good points: *A creepy atmosphere is effectively created which I thought the film managed to hold onto all the way through. A believable small town vibe is well established and this helped a lot with building up an unsettling feeling. The music plays a vital role in the mood as well as its of the spine tingling variety but in a subtle way.
*Milo as an antagonist mostly worked for me with the Alice Sweet Alice style yellow slicker being a decent guise. With him being such a young kid he kind of makes you sit up and take notice anyway with killer kids only being used sparingly within the sub-genre so it’s always a change if nothing else to see one at play as the villain. In this case his unusual voice adds something to the spooky feeling attached to the kid as well and I liked how his face was mostly obscured up until the final scenes.
*The Jeeder household and gynaecology practice is a suitably scary looking mansion. It does the job well as the stereotypical creepy old house for the more action packed finale to unfold within. The gynaecology themed artifacts strewn around like the foetus jars and the stirrups chair also add something.
In addition to the house I also got a kick out of the proprietor, he who we take as the father of Milo, Mr Jeeder. He did a credible job as the weird old guy that you just knew it would be a bad idea for Claire to trust.
Bad Points: *There’s a very a low body count unfortunately with the handful of kills which are included being extremely tame. It definitely all has a made for TV movie feel to it generally when it comes to production values as well but it’s the kills which take the biggest hit being largely flat and unsatisfying. It’s hard to imagine things being much worse in this area in all honesty.
*Spoilers: The Milo character was mainly a positive for me but at the same time there was one aspect to the guy which was nonsensical. It doesn’t add up as to why Milo is still a child in the current day, nor is it clear if he actually did die in the off screen drowning incident. My first assumption was that he did die as a young boy and then everything that happens in the main part of the film with the girls as adults is featuring Milo as a ghost making this a supernatural slasher. Towards the end though Mr Jeeder puts a muzzle type thing on Milo’s face as well as giving him an injection to sedate him but with this being done that must mean he’s flesh and blood. If the drowning was faked so that Jeeder could secretly keep the boy alive and sedated at his estate then why wouldn’t the kid age?
Incidentally I was also surprised that the drowning business wasn’t shown even if briefly via flashback. They harped on about it so much it seemed odd not to show it at all.
Separate and on a lesser scale from the confusion mentioned above are some other poorly put together parts which don’t make much sense:
Firstly shortly before Abby/Abigail is attacked she puts cream on her face but then over the next thirty seconds or so as her scene plays out sometimes she has the cream plastered on her face and sometimes she doesn’t.
In the Jeeder estate Claire becomes trapped in an attic room with a door in the floor providing access. She’s locked in from outside but in trying to get to her Milo unlocks the door and then tries to break through before ultimately failing to do so. At this point the door has been damaged enabling Claire to reach through and unlock it to free herself. There wasn’t any need for her to unlock it though seeing that Milo already did that at the start. Milo did wander close to the lock when departing so I guess you could argue he locked it again but it wasn’t shown that he did. Only a fussy nit pick on my part I know but it stood out and bugged me while watching.
Spoiler: Finally at the very end of the film the scene suddenly cuts to what I think is a copy and paste shot of Milo stabbing out at Claire back when they’re both still kids. In other words the scene from the start. I’m not sure but it was maybe supposed to indicate that Milo was back and not dead after all but this ultra-quick jump shot was perplexing in its execution and wasn’t an ideal way to sign off. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be Milo attacking a completely fresh victim , him coming back to get Claire in the future or just a reminder of how dangerous he was/is and that maybe he’s still out there. It was a muddled and unnecessary way to end things.
Verdict: Despite there not being much on the surface to recommend with this I ended up having a better time with it than I first anticipated. Probably it was a better time than I had any right to have as its easily got more problems than positives but there’s just something about it that won me over. It manages to create a creepy vibe and atmosphere which goes a long way towards keeping things afloat and I think this is by far the biggest part of the appeal. I’m also just generally partial to nineties slashers and this has that feel to it in spades.
The confusing parts of the storyline together with the disappointing murders do their best to ruin the show but I still found it very watchable warts and all.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)May: Killed with scalpel in the prologue. Off camera with blood just seen seeping beneath the door.
2)Abigail: Attacked while watching an old video. Body later found in the Jeeder basement.
3)Marian: Attacked/abducted in the road and body later found legs akimbo in gynaecology bed/chair. Appeared to have been tortured.
4)Kelso: Stabbed with knife/scalpel as he tried to drown Milo in a bath tub.
5)Mr Jeeder: Killed off camera. Body later found in closet.
Note: I’m not counting Ruth seeing that she is not seen on camera either alive or dead as an adult. I’m also not counting the person attacked at the very end as this seemed more a replay of the attack towards Claire from the beginning.
Review added on the 2nd of November 2020.