By Don Simpson | March 21, 2013
Writers: Makinov, Juan José Plans (novel El juego de los niños)
Starring: Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Vinessa Shaw, Daniel Giménez Cacho
Kids these days, they are just a bunch of hellions. Alone they might be all sweet and cuddly and stuff, but in packs they wreak bloody havoc upon society. The modern world has transformed its children into a bunch of hyper-violent zombies who are intent upon destroying the world. What can we do about it? We sure as hell can’t kill them. Heck, nowadays we can’t even hit them without CPS cracking down on us. In other words, as adults we are rendered powerless against the horrors that our children unleash upon us.
Francis (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) is on vacation in South America with his pregnant wife, Beth (Vinessa Shaw). They are American tourists with enough cash to rent a private boat to travel to the remote island of Punta Hueca in order to escape the insanity of the Carnival celebrations on the mainland. Upon their arrival, they find Punta Hueca to be even less populated than they expected. At first glance, the island appears to be abandoned except for a few feral children. Never mind the creepy kids, Francis and Beth are determined to stay and relax in Punta Hueca; so, they opt to search the island for other vacationing adults. As any viewer will tell them, that right there is a very bad idea.
Makinov’s Come Out and Play, quite admirably, takes the plot very slowly; so, as Francis and Beth search the island for other vacationers and inhabitants, we are left totally clueless as to what is going to happen. Sure, things do not seem anywhere close to being normal in Punta Hueca but Francis and Beth are determined to enjoy their last vacation before the birth of their child. You know, because children ruin everything — they ruin vacations, they ruin sex, they ruin fun, they ruin everything.
Come Out and Play could play like a treatise on parental paranoia, because as Francis and Beth are preparing to have a child they are thrust into a world of rabid children who kill adults. Makinov’s film could also be interpreted as a comment on generational violence and/or the generational divide. The postscript “To the martyrs of Stalingrad” seems to suggest that the children of Come Out and Play might be retaliating against the senseless horrors enacted upon innocent children by adults throughout history — I, for one, don’t blame them at all.
Regardless of the message, I love Makinov’s pacing and tone. There is nothing more unsettling to me than a seemingly abandoned city or town overrun by zombie-like children. Admittedly, I have never read Juan José Plans’s source novel El juego de los niños or seen Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s adaptation titled Who Can Kill a Child? (1976), so I don’t know how Makinov’s film compares. But, in a strange sort of way, Come Out and Play is incredibly personal for me. I lived in Brooklyn while there were epidemics of flash mobs of young teenagers randomly attacking adults. On the one occasion that I was attacked by a group of wild teens — literally in front of my apartment building — I was lucky enough to have several respected elders of the neighborhood rush to my aid. They called off the kids, and the kids thankfully obeyed. Considering that the kids were visibly armed with knives and guns, who knows where I would be otherwise. Besides being unarmed, I felt totally powerless against a bunch of kids who were less than half my size. Even if I could physically overpower all of them, there was always the thought, “but they are just kids.” Needless to say, I broke my lease and moved out of Brooklyn after that.