“¿Quien Puede Matar A un Niño?” is another one of those horror films that I just happened across during my childhood one day. My aunt had yet again gone to the video store and rented a hand full of movies both of the horror, and general variety, and being a child, was forced to sit and watch them all. “¿Quien Puede Matar A un Niño?” is one of those movies I recollect, but can’t quite remember the specifics.
Now it’s in a rare uncut release after so many years of the film being heavily edited and virtually unavailable and is now in English and Spanish formats, along with a wonderful video transfer that keeps the film in a crisp and sharp picture. But if anything, “¿Quien Puede Matar A un Niño?” proves that children left to their own devices are evil little bastards, and Serrador’s film is one in the massive library of maniacal children horror entries. And even though it’s quite obscure, it’s still much more effective than “Children of the Corn.”
“¿Quien Puede Matar A un Niño?” is the tale of the effects of war and a society ruled by adults, psychologically on children from victims, witnesses, and survivors, and explores an island cut off from the rest of the world that is ruled by children who display an almost ravenous and almost blissful reaction to any adult that enters their territory.
Serrador composes his film in the vein of “The Birds,” except this time the story centers around the potential damage children can inflict when they decide to stop listening to authority and band together to wreak havoc on their rulers. And the aftermath is a rather chaotic entry that’s both harrowing and lingering.
Serrador clearly vies for a Stockholm syndrome effect here, as he reveals shocking footage of children being murdered, starved to death, and tortured during the holocaust, Vietnam, and Nigeria set to laughter and joyful humming from children; all the while asking us “How can you not expect children to turn on us?” And most importantly, if the situation ever arose, could you kill a child who was trying to kill you? Even if they were your own?
Serrador continues setting the stages for what is surely a bloody attack coming to hapless visitors one day to the island of Almanzora. Serrador paces his film with a mounting tension that ensures carnage, as our two foreign visitors to Spain experience disturbing occurrences including eerie glances from children, strange phone calls, and the inability to notice the headlines in the local papers of mutilated adult bodies washing ashore.
Serrador props the tension with sheer skill, as he constantly warns of looming danger, but prefers a slow boil when delivering the force of it. Even as the couple arrives on the island, they’re greeted by nothing but children, and soon find that they’re the only adults lingering in the pubs and restaurants.
The inevitable reveal of what’s occurring is possibly one of the most gruesome images depicted on film and exemplifies the misguided decision to edit it down to a more conservative thriller. But this new edition doesn’t shy away from the children’s murderous rampage, and we soon learn that our two visitors simply aren’t leaving this island any time soon.
Even after all these years, “¿Quien Puede Matar A un Niño?” is still a very relevant, effective, and extremely disturbing horror film, and we’re finally able to view it in its uncensored, uncut original vision. What Serrador sets his audience up for is a bleak and almost logical result of war and violence on the psyche of children, and the almost unspoken agreement to strike back at adults.
What happens when children decide they’ve had enough? The answer Serrador presents us with is difficult to fathom.