Review: 'Come Out and Play'

 By: Heather Seebach

With each new remake of a classic, horror fans die a little inside. It's a silly hipster reaction, since not all remakes are treated equal. To use music as an analogy: if Taylor Swift covers a Tom Waits song, it's blasphemy; but if Jack White does it, it's brilliant. The point is that anything put in the right hands can be molded into something as good if not better than the original. Unfortunately, Come Out and Play joins the long list of underwhelming horror remakes.

According to director Makinov (yes, that's his name), Come Out and Play is actually not a remake but an unrelated adaptation of the novel by Juan José Plans. Both the novel and its 1976 adaptation, Who Can Kill A Child? are about a couple vacationing on a remote island who discover it is populated entirely by evil children. The locale in this version has moved from Spain to Mexico, and the main couple not English but presumably American. Aside from that, there are no surprises if you have seen the first film adaptation. 

Come Out and Play looks nice, but it is unclear how much of that is due to competent cinematography versus the beautiful island location. Despite being a half-hour shorter than its 70s counterpart, this one seems to drag. There is no character development whatsoever to make the viewer care what happens to these people. The lead actors are wooden to the point of being laughable, and poor dialogue does not help. Worst yet, the film's most famous and intense moments are ruined by melodramatic acting and lazy editing. 

 Makinov claims he has never seen the original film, but that is hard to believe when some scenes are practically shot-for-shot the same (the cane scene, for instance). On the other hand, some beloved scenes are missing, such as the piñata scene and the opening prologue. The latter scene in the original suggested the murderous children were karma for the atrocities committed by adults. Makinov's film aims for no such social or moral commentary, despite self-indulgent manifestos like this follow-up to his original TIFF video:

 For horror fans who have never seen the original film, Come Out and Play could provide some chills. I did like one new montage scene where the children are innocently playing with body parts. But discerning fans of the genre will demand more. Whether Makinov intended to film a remake or cared that he did, it does not change the fact that the novel was adapted into a great classic, and so it is his responsibility to offer something new and different here.

Come Out and Play is now playing in NYC and LA theaters, and is on iTunes and VOD. Or you can catch it on Amazon Instant here:
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