Child, The (1977)
Cast: Laurel Barnett, Rosalie Cole, Frank Janson, Richard Hanners
Director: Robert Voskanian
Synopsis: unsuspecting governess is employed to care for the Child from Hell!
Having watched exploitation master Harry Novak’s Axe and appreciated it, expectations were reasonably high the Child despite the fact that Novak wasn’t the director. The plot about a twisted family living out in the middle of nowhere and featuring a terrible tot in the form of 10 year old outwardly cute blonde Rosalie has immense promise.
The opening scene suggests delightful events to follow as young Rosalie plays with her kitten momentarily before handing it to a hungry ghoul for a Sunday brunch. Then an unsuspecting governess arrives to befriend and guide young Rosalie. On the way she is nearly met with disaster but survives and enjoys a cup of tea with a batty but friendly old lady who warns her about the Norton family where the girl is heading. Once the governess arrives and takes charge of the brooding Rosalie she slowly discovers that the family more than deserves the reputation it has among the few locals who know about them.
Rosalie’s grandfather is a real charmer, regaling dinner guests with tales of young boys eating a poisoness plant and dying in a heap! Rosalie insists on visiting her friends in the local graveyard on an almost nightly basis and when the governess starts to object to this rather odd behaviour Rosalie starts to orchestrate a reign of terror using her friends, the graveyard ghouls, to help her achieve her wishes.
The plot has the elements that should have provided the world a major cult classic yet alas the pacing of the film is so slack and the direction so sloppy that the 80 minute duration seems to take an eternity to come to its conclusion. The gore is cheerful and cheap and rather unconvincing but shown in such fleeting glimpses that it does the trick despite its obvious kitchen sink style. The acting is in true Novak tradition – wooden at very best though Rosalie does cackle stupendously well.
Sadly The Child isn’t the cracker one was hoping it would be…perhaps like a devilish companion to The Bad Seed and The Omen but unfortunately it falls woefully short of the mark with its dreary pacing and boredom factor. Had all the ingredients to become a minor cult classic but sadly, despite the one or two half decent scenes, it stumbles and plods along in a sleep-inducing manner.