The kids are far from alright. The 2008 independent film Home Movie is another first-person-perspective movie, this time about the twisted psychological horror of the Poe family between Halloween 2006 and Easter 2007.

The Poes are -- or should be -- the ideal American family. David Poe (Adrian Pasdar) is a Lutheran minister, while his wife Clare (Cady McClain) is a child psychologist. They have a pair of 10-year-old twins, Jack and Emily (real-life siblings Austin and Amber Joy Williams). They've just moved to upstate New York in a somewhat isolated area. And they have a new video camera: Clare wants to use it for work, while David likes using it to good around and make loving, if embarassing, movies of his family.

But something is wrong with Jack and Emily. Very wrong. The two children sleep in the same bed, never speak or respond to their parents, and invented their own language to talk with each other. They also seem to have a fascination with dead animals: first in the woods, and soon their own pets.

At first the parents seem to ignore their kids' behavior, but soon it takes their toll: Clare puts the kids on medicine (and she begins smoking), while David tries exorcising any demons from the house (and he begins drinking). Jack and Emily keep behaving worse and worse. And it's all documented on the video, which keeps rewinding and fast-forwarding...

Home Movie is a film of mixed quality. The acting is pretty good, with the parents being lovable and the kids extremely eerie. There are some nice cinematic touches, from the brightly lit house (with its dark basement) to the extremely disturbing finale.

Unfortunately, Home Movie also stretches plausibility to the breaking point. It's impossible to see even the most in-denial parents ignoring their kids' escalating behavior, nor would a non-preternatural film explain how a pair of 10-year-old kids could get away with so much -- especially when the adults know what the kids have been up to.

Like many horror movies, Home Movie creates scares, but at the expense of common sense. Still, this movie has its share of scares and tensions -- in the setting of the "ideal" American family home.

(The dvd extras are sparse: the theatrical trailer and making-of interviews with the actors (the Williams kids are quite normal, btw) and writer-director Christopher Denham.)

Overall grade: B-

Reviewed by James Lynch

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