Children of Sorrow(2014)

Screen cap of Children of Sorrow DVD cover from iTunes

Children of Sorrow(2014)
Distributed by Lion's Gate Films
Rated: R
Runtime: 88 Min.
Directed by: Jourdan McClure
Written by: Ryan Finnerty, Jourdan McClure
Bill Oberst, Jr.
Hannah Levien 
Whitney Nielsen
Galen Howard

Spoilers Ahoy!  I'll try not to spoil too much,in this review, but at least you have the option of not reading any further, just in case.  More after the jump!

 *Spoiler alert* spoiler alert* spoiler alert! Turn Back now,if you don't want to be spoiled*

"A young woman embeds herself in a cult looking for answers to her sister's disappearance, only to find a dark secret within the cult and an even darker secret within herself."-Children of Sorrow IMDb synopsis.

When you can't watch a movie twice(or, at least have to quit through the second viewing), you know that on some level, you were freaked out. Probably better to watch with a friend or two. I know I'll go back to watching it, but I had to stop.

Bill Oberst, Jr. plays "Father" Simon Leach(and the quotes around Father are there for reasons), a dark, twisted individual, who lures people out to the desert with promises of better things, and appears to the them, at first, as caring; a charismatic, almost Christ-like figure. But things quickly turn dark, and Simon plays with them, mind-fucking them in disturbing ways: One of the characters, Alan(Galen Howard), is seen by Simon via one of the outside cameras giving Evan(Daniel Mentz) a kiss while they are washing the van. Simon later talks to him, and then, in another scene, shows that Simon is having Alan's head held under water, by two other members.  Then he torments both Alan and Robin(Liesel Hanson), by having Alan kiss and grope her. But yet, they somehow still love Simon, in spite of that.

The story mostly is centered on Ellen(Hannah Levien) who is searching for her lost sister Janet, who had written how happy she was, since she had joined Father Simon's group. Ellen declares to her camera that that doesn't sound like Janet, and goes to Mexico, to find her. She joins Simon's cult, and, begins to get sucked in, much like the other young people.  She at first snoops for clues as to what happened to her sister, but when Simon confronts her on it, she apologises, and allows herself to be branded, later, to join the rest of the group as a full member. 

It wasn't at all what I expected it to be, this movie. I'd assumed that he was more of a Jim Jones type, or someone similar-ish maybe to Marshall Applewhite, especially when talking of Transcendence and making robes for it. But no, it wasn't that simple, and I don't want to give that away, but it's certainly disturbing,to find out just who Simon really is, as a person.  It also wasn't as bloody as I thought it'd be, though the deaths of each of the ones who died are truly shocking.  One example I'll give, was the death of Ben(Nich Kauffman)- who had his throat sliced open during a supper scene, by Simon, with the lid from a can of peaches. Simon then went back to calmly eating peaches while Ben bled out, on the table.   

The cinematography is well done, although, and I have to say while I'm not overly fond of "found footage" films, it wasn't as herky-jerky as some(Blair Witch, anyone? Barf-bags not needed, in this case). The lighting is stark and bright, in most scenes, and creepily dark in others. The storyline is excellent, as is the cast's acting; they all brought realism to the story, and you could feel their pain and exaltation. Oberst's performance as Simon made him seem very real--the charisma practically leapt off the screen. I felt myself being drawn in, which made the other scenes of violence and brainwashing, that more spine-tingling.  And Whitney Nielsen(Mary), Simon's right hand gal,did a great job herself, possibly being more twisted than Simon.

Or rather, this chick is all kinds of crazy.

I had a visceral reaction to this movie, something that doesn't usually happen to me while watching horror movies- one other movie that has hit me so strongly in the guts was the first 'Saw' movie.  Not even Freddy Kruger himself has affected me so much.  I thought I was made of sterner stuff, but 'Children of Sorrow' twists itself into your brain, and burns itself there, leaving you feeling stunned, and sure to haunt you forever.  A definite sign of a well done horror movie, in my humble opinon. If you like psychological horror films, 'Children of Sorrow' is absolutely one you have to watch.  Jourdan McClure did a great job directing this, and so kudos to him, for freaking me right the hell out!

I give this one 4 ½ out of FIVE stars(for being a found footage movie- I know, I know: it made it more real to be a found footage film.. but I think I could have been more comfortable if it hadn't been shot that way.. but maybe that was the point? To make you as uncomfortable as possible? Dammit, yes.)- 

EDIT TO ADD: Um. Maybe I should have been clearer, the ratings I use are from 1 to 5 stars(with 5 being highest) and I reward accordingly, how I feel about the movie, sometimes even going by halves.  I want you all to know I really, really enjoyed the movie, in spite of being freaked out. It was a brilliant piece, and I very much recommend it. A 4 and 1/2 stars is still a good thing ;)


  1. Des, thank you for taking the time to watch the movie and I must say that I loved the fact that it was disturbing to you. Believe me, it was disturbing to me to play that guy, too! Always a pleasure to be mentioned on the Realm Of Unknown Things.

    with appreciation,


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