Starring: George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Michael Gwynn
Director: Wolf Rilla
Running Time: 77 mins
Village Of The Damned is a British film about a group of children who are born in mysterious circumstances on one day in a small countryside village. Years later, it appears that all of the children have developed powers stronger than anything known by man.
For a classic 60s horror, this is still pretty effective. Sure, it’s not particularly scary, but it has some of the most unnerving villains I’ve seen in a long while, complemented by an ingeniously crafted story that remains mysterious and unpredictable throughout.
I’ll start off with what I thought was most impressive about Village Of The Damned, and that was the children. Immediately disturbing from first sight, the film does an excellent job at making them seem more and more frightening as their power grows over the years, and by the end, they do feel like a formidable force that seems like it cannot be beaten.
The performances by the children, particularly Martin Stephens, are fantastic too. They give off that cold, emotionless and unmistakeably alien vibe brilliantly, and it made me really hate them. They’re definitely a rare example of a villain that gets so deep under your skin that you fully despise everything about them. As the film went on, I felt more and more infuriated and enraged by the children, and as a result was fully rooting for the townspeople to do something about them.
But it’s not just the children that are unnerving here, because the entire film, even before there’s a mention of them, is very eerie. From the attention-grabbing opening sequence to some intense dialogue scenes, there’s always a powerful air of mystery afoot in Village Of The Damned, and it makes for really compelling watching, even before the story becomes a more horror-based one.
That said, it’s not a perfect film, and although I was really affected by the unnerving tone of the film and the mysterious nature of the story, I still felt that something extra was missing, because I wasn’t really scared. Now, that’s possibly down to the fact that this is an older film, but I still find moments in Psycho, also released in 1960, hugely terrifying, so it’s clear that this film maybe could have done more to be scarier and even more affecting, which would have made it absolutely fantastic.
Overall, I liked Village Of The Damned. It could have been powerful, but I was still hugely impressed by the evil children, the tone and the plot, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.