Tag Archives: Alisha Wainwright

The Children Are Our Future

There’s Something Wrong with the Children

by Hope Madden

There are things about There’s Something Wrong with the Children that feel familiar. It’s a cabin-in-the-woods horror film, sure, but director Roxanne Benjamin complicates those tiresome tropes because the forest partiers are a little older than your typical co-eds.

The film drops us somewhere near the end of the first night of vacation. Ben (Zach Gilford) and Margo (Alisha Wainwright) are spending the weekend in adjoining cabins with Margo’s best friend, Ellie (Amanda Crew), and her husband and two kids.

There’s a camaraderie as well as a distance among all partiers that feels authentic. Ellie drinks a great deal for a parent whose kids are on-hand. Ben seems more comfortable playing nerdy forest games with the kids than he does hanging out with the adults. Ellie’s husband Thomas (Carlos Santos) is clearly upset with his wife about something.

The kids seem fine.

And then Ben drags everyone on a forest hike that requires a machete to complete. They stumble upon a ruin with a deep, deep well. Everybody gets a little weird, the children’s noses spontaneously bleed, and the campers decide to retire to their cabins.

The kids – as you might predict from the title – are no longer fine.

The entire cast is solid. Even when the film wades into too-familiar territory, the actors elevate the material with realistic and reasonable performances. Both David Mattie and Briella Guiza as the children in question evolve beautifully from precocious youngsters to something terrifying yet still playful.

I appreciate the way Benjamin dwells in that fun-and-games space where adults do childish things, where dangerous behavior can masquerade as playfulness. She draws you into a supernatural world that feels whisper close to reality.

The most intriguing thing about this film is its stance on motherhood. As much as I enjoyed M3GAN, its mom-shaming got to me. Horror (and not only horror) has a terrible habit of developing storylines meant to prove to women that they do, indeed, have a maternal instinct. And woe be to those women who simply do not.

Benjamin, focusing a script by T.J. Cimfel and David White, instead explores the tension involved in simply owning your own decision not to become a mother. Indeed, There’s Something Wrong with the Children wholly approves of this choice. Makes a great case for it, even.

Earning Your Wings


by George Wolf

Palmer has Justin Timberlake, an adorable little kid and a heartwarming message. Heck, it’s not much more than some sexytime and a few beers away from being an afterschool special.

Yes, you can guess where it’s going. No, you will not be sorry for the trip.

J.T. is Eddie, who prefers you just call him by his last name. He was once a hot shot Louisiana high school quarterback with a scholarship to LSU. But after injuries ended Palmer’s career early, his quick temper got him sent away for 12 long on attempted murder.

But he’s served his time, so now Palmer has come back to his small, “church and football” hometown to move in with Grandma Vivian (June Squibb). Once there, it doesn’t take Palmer long to notice Shelly, the trailer train-wreck next door (Juno Temple).

Shelly leaves town a lot, and when she does, her son Sam (Ryder Allen in a perfectly lovable debut) stays with Viv. Sam doesn’t like football. Sam likes princesses, having tea parties, and dressing up in costumes that come with wings and tiaras.

Director Fisher Stevens fleshes out Cheryl Guerriero’s script with a fine instinct for knowing we don’t need to be led by the nose. There will be bonding, bullies beaten down and lessons learned, plus Sam’s pretty teacher (Alisha Wainwright) is single, so, you know.

Timberlake is gritty and finely understated, letting Palmer’s feelings for Sam unveil themselves with a gradual, and ultimately authentic depth. Palmer has scars from his childhood, too, but as expected as his kinship with Sam is, it seldom feels mawkish.

And Allen, well this kid just skips away with the movie tucked inside his glittery backpack. When Palmer tells Sam there are no boys on his favorite TV show and Sam confidently responds that he will be the first, all the hate that the world throws at kids like Sam seems – if only for a moment – miles away.

There is contrivance and familiarity at work in Palmer, no doubt. But there’s also enough heart, and pure hopeful innocence, to earn this film some wings.