We all know that, just as in real life, children are evil little homunculi, hellbent on destruction (at least I sure as heck remember being one). However, the Mikey in this movie is one step above by being a stone-cold killer; murdering well above his age with a variety of weapons and facial twitches. All because he just needs to feel loved but can’t be because he’s an absolutely awful little shit.
Things start well with Mikey (played magnificently by the then 11-year-old Brian Bonsall) massacring his adopted family. By the 6th minute what looked like a drama-of-the-week TV-Movie has a body count of three, a protagonist you could happily wring the neck of, and a sign over its head that reads “Bwahahaha! I was a slasher flick all along!“
Once the police are thoroughly bamboozled by the murders, mostly because they lack the imagination to think a kid could have done it in a fit of rage, Mikey gets shifted on to the next family/batch of victims. We then have the slow build-up of discovering more of his lack of impulse control, his unhealthy obsession with teenager Jessi (Josie Bissett), and Ashley Laurence reprising her role from Hellraiser as Person-Who-Spots-Something-Is-Up-And-Does-Some-Investigating.
There is a clever inversion of the usual “Nah, everything is fine at Camp Inevitable Death” setup, as the parents are fully aware that something is wrong with Mikey but they just don’t know the scale of it. This is amplified by Brian Bonsall acting incredibly creepy when no one other than the audience is looking, and just regular troubled-child disturbed when they are. He both carries the film and sells his role, which is a joy to watch in its own right, and it makes the slasher cliches far more digestible.
The pace of the film also helps, as the middle act builds the tension for the final act to just go outright crazy. There is never a dull moment in the film (assuming you don’t find victims wandering obliviously around a 4-foot-high angel of death dull), and it makes each human death land hard and messy.
It’s technically a “video nasty”, as it never got released in the UK due to the time of its making (although it was released in the Republic Of Ireland, a rare inversion that was all over the marketing materials), but it is nowhere near as shocking or violent as many of its ilk so you shouldn’t let that stop you watching it or let anyone oversell its gore. Other than some horrific parenting decisions and 90s fashion choices it’s mild stuff by today’s standards, as well as having a dramatic weight to it that a lot of its contemporaries lacked. It’s also quite easy to get hold of via streaming services, so if you to try a different take on an old formula then this might be the Treasure you seek.
Please note: I was introduced to this film via the Bela Lugosi’s Shed podcast Poor Quality Film Club. They meet every Monday at 8pm at the BLS Discord Server, and HJDoom presents us whatever bit of cinematic horror awfulness has taken his fancy. Sometimes he screws up and we get to watch amazing films like this.