Directed By: Edward Hunt
“Does anybody know what the word ‘murder’ means?”
Well this is an odd duck. On the night of the eclipse three children are born and on the eve of their tenth birthdays they all go mad and start a killing spree. Sounds fair.
Usually I’m not that keen on killer kid movies. I like The Bad Seed (Even with the bizarre ending where the actress playing the titular bad seed receives a spanking from the actress playing her mother in a strange, break the fourth wall, denouement) and I like The Village Of The Damned but it doesn’t stretch much more beyond that. I think it’s because inevitably the kids are always going to be snobbish brats and they’re never going to get their comeuppance. I understand that’s weirdly moralistic of me, but I think it’s more knowing that the filmmakers always find a way to have a cop-out ending instead of what they should do, which is impale the little buggers or something.
So, with that out of the way…
It’s hard to know just where Bloody Birthday lies. It occasionally comes close to being disturbing but also a little campy at the same time as though it can’t decide which one it wants to be. There’s not exactly a tonal whiplash as there can be with some movies in the genre. Take The Last House On The Left for example, it’s a genuinely stomach-churning and abrasive experience and yet we also have scenes of comically bumbling cops with their own theme music. There’s nothing quite like that here, but there’s an arch line reading or two that lets you know that some actors were in a joke others were unaware of.
I thought we were going to be in for a much stranger movie and for a time that seems true. After the opening where the eclipse somehow plays an important role, we cut ten years later as an amorous couple are getting frisky in a graveyard. Concerned with being seen, the couple go to finish their business in an open grave, which is just asking for it really. Sadly after that, the movie settles into a somewhat ordinary routine. We have our final girl and the boy she’s babysitting and most of the movie is them avoiding numerous attempts on their life to such a comical degree that it brought to mind The Pink Panther.
After the success of Halloween, of course the studios were going to be clamouring for holiday-themed slasher movies and so throwing kids into the mix makes it stand out in the crowd a little more. It’s well made too, with the early suburban scenes recalling Carpenter’s classic although it doesn’t have his eye for composition. And can I get a little nitpicky again? What happened to other kids born during an eclipse? Are they all out there killing as well? Did the filmmakers study how eclipses work? I would gather not.
All in all Bloody Birthday still succeeds in being a strange little oddity, particularly if you’re a fan of the killer-kids genre. Even if you’re not the movie has plenty of goofy moments to keep you entertained even with the eye-rolling set-up for a sequel that never came.