SUFFER, LITTLE CHILDREN (1983)
Directed by Alan Briggs
Available on DVD
The unexpected arrival of a young, mute girl at a children’s home spells trouble when the other kids at the home begin to misbehave. Initially, their behaviour is only minor mischief but when the kids start hurting others and children are found lying at the bottom of the stairs, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that something is terribly wrong and it all seems to have started with the arrival of mute girl, Elizabeth.
Labelled as one of the most controversial films in the UK during the video nasty era, I had high expectations for SUFFER, LITTLE CHILDREN… until I witnessed the opening sequence. From the amatuerish opening scenes reminiscent of a TV episode you might get shown at primary school on the television sitting on the unforgettable TV trolley, I realised this was the biggest troll in the history of cinema. All it was missing was a Rickroll.
Demonic kids. There’s always one and in this movie, it’s Elizabeth. But when a girl can’t talk, how can one portray that she is the psycho that is riling all the other kids up? By extreme close-ups of the girl’s eyes, of course! Mix this in with some strange music, a zombie picnic nightmare and a calm, collected Elizabeth walking amidst the chaos of spilled blood with a smirk on her face, you have everything you need to make a creepy kid horror. Well, almost. What’s missing is an engaging story with quality acting and dialogue you can actually hear. Some might say these aspects of filmmaking should be overlooked due to the fact the movie was made by drama students but apart from some adequate performances from the female guardian in charge of the children’s home, and a former resident-turned-popstar, there’s nothing here that is even watchable. It’s so cringeworthy and slow moving that it sent me to sleep numerous times and not even Jesus Christ can save the movie from its abysmal incarnation.
There are plenty of films out there that have been made on a budget that still manage to scrape some remnant of storytelling but unfortunately SUFFER, LITTLE CHILDREN is not one of them. Its only redeeming feature is that it isn’t afraid to murder a few kids as part of its barebones storyline, something which is quite taboo in filmmaking even to this very day! Convincing children to plunge a knife into themselves and to stab others, or push one of their friends down the stairs, shows that villainess Elizabeth is committed to her cause and that her path of destruction of those around her probably won’t stop until everyone, or at least those who are stood in the way of her plans, meets a sticky end.
A slow moving, grainy, home-made affair, SUFFER, LITTLE CHILDREN is riddled with flaws but if you can somehow hold out towards the end, you’ll be rewarded with the red stuff you may feel like spilling yourself. Corny with a hint of quirkiness, SUFFER, LITTLE CHILDREN is one for cult completists only.