Child Eater Review

The Monster in the closet is real and coming to get you, be afraid.

Every child at some point fears the dreaded boogeyman hiding under the bed or in the closet. It’s a childhood fear that has been mined again and again in horror. Director Erlingur Thoroddsen (say that name three times fast) taps that idea once more in the chilling Child Eater.

The film’s creepy, supernatural monster eats children’s eyes to keep itself from going blind, leaving victims bleeding from their empty eye sockets. It is a gruesome, unforgettable visual that will haunt you. The indie movie is a watchable, memorable horror film that punches above its fairly limited budget with an excellent monster design and relatable characters.

The solid frights and tight pacing make up for that lack of originality

Indie horror is always a crapshoot, as young directors often see the genre as a cheap entry into respectable filmmaking. As a reviewer, I see dozens of cheap, eminently forgettable horror films each year done with little craft and no talent. Child Eater is the rare exception that shows a keen understanding of horror tropes from a talented filmmaker. Thoroddsen writes and directs this well-made monster movie that hits all the right notes for true horror fans. It should be mentioned nothing in Child Eater is particularly clever or original. The solid frights and tight pacing make up for that lack of originality. Not every movie needs to reinvent the wheel.

The plot is simple, if rather derivative for the genre. Helen (Cait Bliss) is a young adult stuck looking after Lucas (Colin Critchley), a young boy afraid of the “monster” in his closet. Helen doesn’t believe him of course, leading to his mysterious disappearance. Helen will have to stumble around in the surrounding woods and abandoned property looking for Lucas. There are other characters in the mix but they are Child Eater’s main protagonists. Both will come face to face with the dreaded Robert Bowery.

A local legend in town claims a serial killer named Robert Bowery believed he could prevent his own blindness by eating the eyeballs of young children. His grisly crime spree was 25 years ago but some believe he’s come back from the grave as a supernatural monster hunting children. It’s not much of a spoiler to reveal the legend is true and Bowery has returned to hunt more victims, much like Jason or Freddy in their movies.

Bowery has a great visual design made for scaring people, especially for low-budget filmmaking. His monstrous face is nicely detailed, recalling such monsters as the one from Jeepers Creepers. Child Eater doesn’t let up in intensity once Bowery makes his full presence felt in the movie. What it also does well is introduce a few elements that keep things interesting. Lucas’ disappearance comes after a surprising secret is revealed by Helen to her boyfriend, which builds an emotional tension often lacking in horror characters.

Helen doesn’t follow the standard template and archetype of what has become known as the “Final Girl” in horror. Depressed and moody, she’s a more grounded protagonist than we normally get in these kind of flicks. She’s not the peppy, horny heroine that automatically saves the day in this story. It’s partially why Child Eater succeeds as effective indie horror.

Child actors often make or break a film with their performance. Young actor Colin Critchley is excellent as Lucas, a critical character that drives much of the plot. The primary cast members all work out to varying degrees. A couple of the cameo supporting roles have cringe-worthy performances but that is to be expected in indie horror to some degree. It doesn’t impact Child Eater as horror entertainment.

All one can ask as a horror fan is a legitimately scary experience. Erlingur Thoroddsen’s Child Eater shows the promise of a talented filmmaker putting it all together in one horrifying package. Tightly paced with an effective combination of quiet terror and visceral gore, this is indie horror done right.

MVD Visual distributes Child Eater on DVD and home video. The DVD has 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, deleted scenes, and an audio commentary by director Erlingur Thoroddsen.