MARCH 2, 2011
If you pay attention to the end credits of Milo (and you damn well should! Our nation’s end titlers are the real heroes), you will notice the peculiar rewording of the usual legal language, informing you that the film was indeed based on real events. Well, I Googled for a while, and I couldn’t find anything about the world’s most incompetent schoolteacher being stalked by a 45 year old child that has gained super-strength as the result of being a botched abortion, so I guess they took some liberties for their version.
At times, Milo really works, which is probably why it was recommended by HMAD readers Thomas and Amanda (who didn't link her blog!). The little bastard’s voice is a bit Chucky-like (well, older, not trying to be funny Chucky), and kids in protective weather clothing are always scary (Don’t Look Now, The Brood...), but the script really botches a key element of a successful killer kid movie – scenes with the kid! Writer Craig Mitchell treats the film almost like a whodunit, with absolutely no scenes of Milo just being a kid or acting strangely around the adults. And even in the kill scenes, he barely appears – we just see his arm or quick glimpses of his back as he slices away. At first I suspected that there was a twist to the story (he’s a ghost, it’s not him, that sort of crap), hence the need to obscure his size and face during these scenes, as well as keep him from acting creepy when it makes no sense for him to do so (like in Hide and Seek). But no, he’s the killer, there’s no real twist, and the movie just plain shot itself in the foot on a narrative level.
Instead, we just get about a dozen scenes of our rather dim protagonist getting mocked by her students, questioned by the cops, or asking another character if they think she’s crazy. Like Milo, we don’t spend any time with the folks who may actually get killed (such as her two friends in town, the janitor, the principal, or even her goddamn fish, which she talks to and coddles like it’s a dog), which would have allowed their death scenes (when applicable) to be sort of scary. But no – if we suddenly cut to one of her friends sitting at home alone, getting ready for bed, we know she’s a goner before the second shot in the sequence.
They also botch using one of their key assets – Vincent Schiavelli! The late actor is one of the great creepy character actors of all time, and yet his role is so insignificant they might as well have just tossed one of the PAs in the role and saved money hiring the only recognizable actor. Unless you count an unbilled Mila Kunis, playing one of the students (this movie must have been on the shelf for a couple years, because she looks about 12 but it was the same year 70’s Show came on the air). But even she gets more to do than Schiavelli, who shows up near the end, delivers some minor exposition, and is then found dead a few scenes later.
The editing also sucks. More than a couple scenes just come out of nowhere (particularly an important one that results in the death of another friend – they’re suddenly just driving along a road and Milo appears in front of them), and the ending doesn’t even make sense. A janitor cleans some fresh graffiti saying “Milo Was Here”, but then they cut to Milo suddenly jumping out in a completely different area attacking a completely different person. Huh? Plus it seems like a third of the movie consists of establishing shots of the school and close-ups of playground equipment. I mean, it’s still a killer kid movie and thus automatically somewhat entertaining, but throughout the whole thing I just kept spotting ways in which they screwed it up.
Interestingly, the movie kind of started off like Valentine – five girls are creeped out by a weird little kid, and there’s a tragedy. Years later, one of the girls dies and the others reunite, only to start getting picked off one by one. So I figured they would introduce some handsome dude and then reveal at the end that he was the grown-up Milo, but no. Milo just stayed a little kid for reasons that they never explain, and his motive for killing these particular girls never becomes clear either. But, you know, he sounds weird when he’s killing them, so it’s kind of entertaining.
Basically, for killer kid completists only. Everyone else, you’re not allowed to watch it until you’ve seen Orphan, The Children (both of them), Joshua, The Pit, and (obviously) Cathy’s Curse. Once you’ve been properly educated in the realm of killer kid films, then I guess it's OK if you want to kill some time with Milo.
What say you?