Director: Jourdan McClure
Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Hannah Levien, Whitney Nielsen
Runtime: 88 minutes
Synopsis: 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.
We begin with Ellen (Levien) distraught because of a letter her runaway sister wrote. She's thrown off because what she's reading doesn't sound like the sister she knows. This leads her to believe her sister was taken in by a cult and she immediately assumes the worst. This prompts her to investigate and it leads her to join Simon Leach and his followers. What she discovers turns out to be more than she can chew, as it takes a physical, mental and emotional toll on her.
When approaching a film that's headed by Bill Oberst Jr., you can be assured that you're in for a solid kick in the teeth performance. Whether or not its the lead role, or just a few lines, Oberst nails it. This theory is cemented by his performance as cult leader "Father" Simon Leach in Children of Sorrow. There is a switch in viewer perspective, as some of the movie is found footage. Leach instructs his assistant to record everything, but the film also switches to us seeing Ellen and her search for her sister.
I can't lie, I found myself more interested whenever Oberst was on screen. His character was just far more interesting and had a hell of a lot more depth. I expected more out of Levien, seeing how the main concept of her searching for her sister is so grand, but she didn't quite hit the mark for me. This film also suffers from becoming a tad slow in the middle. They develop other characters, but sadly, I didn't care. I think I found one other person interesting, and the potential for what could have been was enormous. I know after speaking with others, that the general concensus is that it just drags at this time. If it wasn't for Leach and his assistant, I would have probably found myself checking my Twitter account. Thankfully though, before it becomes overbearing, we are given another dose of Leach. Oberst definitely saves the middle from getting any worse. It's not bad though- as we get towards the end, it picks up. It doesn't adhere to any formula, however it WORKS here. Its somewhat basic, but effective.
The bottom line is this; Children of Sorrow isn't for everybody. It's dark, it's cerebral, its laid back. However, Oberst's peformance alone is worth watching. He was a perfect vehicle for Simon and I couldn't see anybody else pulling it off as creepy as he did. He truly gets lost in his role (as he does with any character) and you can see that Oberst gives in and becomes a vessel, bringing this sick, sadistic monster to life.
Despite other poor reviews, I still give this one 3 out of 5 Skulls. The concept of cults scare me. Real life horror. The power another human being can have over others is terrifying, and Oberst portrayed that well.