Children of the Night Blu-ray Review

Child vampires roam the hills of Argentina in this foreign horror film

A colony of child vampires populate an orphanage in director Iván Noel’s film Children of the Night. The Spanish-language horror film hails from Argentina. This is a tiny, micro-budget horror film that makes up for special effects with its creativity and intelligence. Fully exploring the ramifications of an immortal being trapped in a child’s body with an elaborate mythology tied to Dracula and Bram Stoker, it goes beyond Let The Right One In. Horror fans will admire the original and unique ideas about vampires in this film even if a few things fall short of perfection.

Children of the Night (also known as Limbo) begins with a young journalist, Alicia. The elderly caretaker of a secluded orphanage called Limbo requests Alicia make a visit so she can write about a mysterious disease afflicting the children. Erda claims the children are suffering from a rare virus that seems to produce all the symptoms of vampirism. What she discovers is a colony of vampires trapped in the bodies of children and a mysterious connection to her own past. And what about the rumors that Count Dracula’s own grandson lives among them? It is a mystery any journalist would love stumbling upon, only for her to discover a threat greater than the child vampires.

This is not a “big” film with flashy special effects. Estimated to have a $50,000 budget, director Iván Noel crafts an interesting horror movie around a village of children and local actors. Veteran actress Ana María Giunta plays Limbo’s human caretaker, an aging nurse for the unruly vampires. Sabrina Ramos plays Alicia with a startling ease for her film debut. Young Lauro Veron makes quite an impression as the immortal Count.

… everything comes together nicely in a bloody wild finale that pits the vampires against their mortal enemies.

The movie has moments of levity that make it an enjoyable ride. One vampire trapped in a boy’s body hits on the adult Alicia. It is a funny moment that also reminds us of the possible pathos from this situation. He is actually her chronological age and the movie does a good job bringing up the full implications of immortal children living in an adult’s world. These vampires look like children but some of them are older than 100 hundred-years-old.

If there are flaws in Children of the Night, most of them seem caused by its tiny budget. Writer, producer and director Iván Noel has made sure to create an interesting spin on the familiar vampire mythos despite the financial limitations. Some fat could have been trimmed like Alicia’s unnecessary boyfriend, but everything comes together nicely in a bloody wild finale that pits the vampires against their mortal enemies. It is based on an interesting idea that ends in a satisfying manner. This is intriguing foreign horror brimming with fresh ideas.

Movie★★★☆☆

Children of the Night Blu-ray screen shot 12

New horror label Artsploitation Films gives Children of the Night a satisfactory Blu-ray presentation considering its budget and production values. Filmed on a DSLR camera, the venerable Canon 5D line, the interlaced 1080i video is framed at 1.78:1. The 100-minute main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-25. The average video bitrate is 20.73 Mbps.

Having become accustomed to the pristine imagery of more expensive RED digital cameras for tiny indie flicks, the step back to a primitive DSLR camera is noticeable in nearly every frame. This is digital video picture quality that was more common in the States a few years ago. ISO noise, posterization, banding, uneven shadow delineation and fuzzy detail wavering between SD and HD all weigh prominently in Children of the Night.

It’s tough to criticize a film that punches above its weight class but this is not the picture-perfect video most have seen on Blu-ray. A few scenes beam with clarity but digital remnants are hard to miss when they are this glaring. At its best the picture has a glossy television studio appearance with decent clarity. Shadow delineation suffers in the darker scenes.

This film benefits a little from Blu-ray quality but is below the visual standards of most releases.

Video★★☆☆☆

The Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital audio at 192 kbps is pretty weak by Blu-ray standards. The mix and mastering are a little wonky. The musical score has perfectly fine fidelity but is far too loud in relation to the dialogue. Some bass does leak into the mix. The stereo image lacks the channel separation and width of better mixes. I guess one would call this serviceable audio for the indie horror movie.

Three optional subtitles display in a white font: English, English SDH, and French subs.

Audio★★☆☆☆

Artsploitation Films has left the BD-R game completely behind, making this a fully replicated Blu-ray like any other you would purchase at the store. It comes in a snazzy clear Blu-ray case. The commentary is interesting for young filmmakers trying to make a cheap movie.

Director’s Commentary – Iván Noel’s solo commentary in English gets a little patchy but offers a wealth of honesty and insight behind his film. Children of the Night is basically a one-man show by the director, with fans pitching in whenever they can. I found his cheap solutions to production problems an interesting discussion. We get the standard behind-the-scenes discussion and how everything came about.

Making Of Featurette (22:30 in HD) – This Spanish-language featurette includes a lot of footage from the set and audition reels. Most of it isn’t translated into English and only a few sparse English text sentences guide the footage. As someone that doesn’t speak Spanish, it looks like it offers decent behind-the-scenes nuggets from filming the movie.

Trailer (01:24 in HD)

Artsploitation Trailers: Der Samurai (01:53 in HD), Horsehead (2:29 in HD0, The House With 100 Eyes (01:44 in HD), Reckless (01:49 in HD)

Extras ★★★☆☆

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.