Children are becoming a distinctly divisive social issue. Many people are now actively choosing not to have any, and this, for some reason, is becoming an insult to those who have. There’s Something Wrong with the Children somewhat begins to tackle this issue head-on. Hearing the movie, and that particular ending, explained will go a long way towards unpacking this topic.
While discussing their lives, Margaret and Ben (played by Alisha Wainwright and Zach Gilford) and the lives of their friends, Thomas and Ellie (Carlos Santos and Amanda Crew), Ben says what most of us who have grown up with friends and watched them become parents say.
“I don’t have an issue with the kids, its just how they’ve changed their parents…”
Of course people who have children change. Although since both couples in this film seem to drink constantly and spend their time huddled with their friends rather than engaging in activities with their children, the extent of this change is debatable. But its in how the change affects their relationship with their friends that is often the issue.
The friend dynamic falls apart after the two children, Lucy and Spencer (Brielle Guiza and David Mattle), are revealing themselves to be under a sort-of hypnosis (or have been turned into doppelgangers, the film revels in its mystery!) and being all round little shits. Ellie and Thomas’s condemnation for their friends lack of children becomes apparent. It’s not that they don’t want to have kids; it’s that they don’t want to have them with each other. It highlights a crucial misunderstanding between parents and non-parents, that the joy the parents feel at having their children is not desired by the friends around them.
“I still have fun, just a different kind,” Thomas tells Ben. Great, Thomas, that’s fab for you – why does it matter that I don’t want that for myself? Let’s further unpack it as we get into the final moments of the movie, There’s Something Wrong with the Children and its ending explained.
The Ending Explained
If this article seems like I’m dodging the question about what this film is actually about by being trite about a minority of parents who feel personally attacked when their lifestyle isn’t immediately attractive to the friends around them, well you’d be right. Because in some ways only God and Roxanne Benjamin have any clue what this film was about.
We’ve seen creepy kids in horror a million times. Successfully. Terrifyingly.
But these kids? I’ve honestly been more disturbed by a child crying with a snotty nose than I was with these kids. Damian from The Omen was the SON OF THE DEVIL! The kids from Children of the Corn is Neverland (Peter Pan’s one, not MJ’s) twisted through the eyes of Stephen King. The Exorcist is… okay, you get the point. And while every child ever committed to horror cinema doesn’t have to mimic these legends, when the audience is deliberately asked to summon their vestiges I take issue.
Spoilers in three… two… one…
They’re bugs. Some kind of creepy praying mantis-esque bugs with glowing green eyes and a weird clicky voice.
Do you know what is terrifying about insects? Why we run in fear from the thought of them and they make us squirm? Because there’s like a billion of them. They are small, and dirty, and crawl all over each other in a mass of absolute terror. Do you know what else is scary about insects? They look weird. They don’t register as animal when we see them because they don’t fit in with the mould of what we view as human or animal.
We can understand them, obviously, but most of us select a career path away from becoming an entomologist. What are the two things we do not see in this film? Millions (I’d settle for more than two) of these little infected kids or a glimpse of their new forms beyond the shadows projected against the wall. Where did the insects come from? Who built the abandoned building around their wee well? What are their plans for humanity? Buggered if I know (I know, I know, cheap shot).
Even the final scene doesn’t really tell us much. Margaret, having finally escaped the cabins, sees Ben and the two kids holding hands in the middle of the highway with creepy grins on their face (Ben somehow gets sucked into the well and now all of a sudden wants kids and, presumably, a bug-topia on Earth, but really, who knows?)
Margaret, however, has had enough. From slapping her best friend, to watching her husband become a semi-insectoid being, to being covered in blood for HOURS, she’s finished with the nonsense by now. So she runs them down. Well, maybe, the screen goes black, so I ask again, who even knows?
What we do know however is that she is rejecting her husband and his two new kids and the life they are offering her. Hearing and understanding the ending explained, There’s Something Wrong with the Children makes sense in certain ways. Parenthood, in this case, becomes the weird abstraction from the real world; the abhorrent scar tissue in the fabric of humanity. And Margaret – and the audience – are supposed to reject it (well, maybe, honestly, if you watch this film and you get some deeper meaning that makes my rundown here look juvenile and simplistic; I implore you to tell me just so I can wrap my head around what I just watched.)
We know not all parents are cult-like in their zealotry for converting other people to become parents too, so perhaps the critique is on a specific subset of parents of whom we are all familiar. Maybe it’s a giant advertisement for getting your house bug sprayed. When it comes to explaining the ending of There’s Something Wrong with the Children it is important to understand that I have absolutely no idea what Roxanne Benjamin intended. What I can say is that my resolve to never have children of my own has not wavered because of viewing this film. Nor would I relish the opportunity to go on holiday with friends of mine who are parents if they’re kids are tagging along.
Last Updated on April 3, 2023.