The Family (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Family (2022) Review

Horrorific content by all-horror on May 16th, 2023 | Movie Review | Religion, Cult, Psychological, Wilderness, Thriller, Mystery, Teen, Isolation

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It's about a group of children who must live under the totalitarian rule of a cult-ruler patriarch in the middle of nowehere.

The Family was directed by Dan Slater and stars Nigel Bennett (The Righteous, The Corridor), Benjamin Charles WatsonJenna Warren (Thanksgiving), Keana BastidasToni EllwandYasmin MacKay, and Onyx Spark.

The Family (2022) Review

Teenagers are enslaved by their parents and forced to live a religious life devoted to their god. They hope that one day they will be able to leave the grounds of the smallholding where they live and work the land marked by a line of animal bones. However, they are forbidden from venturing out, and their lives remain evil. So when Caleb wanders outside the designated area in the woods, he starts to doubt his father's strict interpretations of their situation and whether or not they are living in the truth.

The Family is a dramatic thriller cult movie that is uncomfortable to watch. The kids in the movie are involved in a cult led by their "parents." It is unclear where these kids come from, but they were likely homeless or abducted. The parents treat the kids severely, making the movie even more disturbing. The children spend their days toiling in the fields under the watchful eye of their mother, who is always pointing a rifle at them. Their father avidly preaches the word of their religious book, believing himself to be a man made in the image of their God Etan. These kids have been brainwashed into living such a hopeless, soul-destroying life filled with fear.

The Family is very similar to M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, except that the viewer is aware from the beginning that it is about a cult and that the outside world is not restricted by the rules that the parents have set for their children. As Abaddon approaches, the family's father wants his children to believe that the evil they read about in the Bible is coming to harm them. He strikes fear into their hearts, telling them that only he can protect them.

The father's strict and forceful manner is evident from the beginning. A young boy named Elijah struggles to pull a wheelbarrow through the thick mud and is harshly punished and removed by his father. Even Caleb, who does his best to help Elijah in his time of need, has his limits. It's not hard to imagine what it would be like for the kids to know nothing else and accept this man's teachings as truth. As Caleb comes of age, his father promises that he will become a man and a leader of the flock. However, the siblings are unsure if this will happen, as their parents have been torturing and starving them.

The mother is just as wicked as the father. How she seems to creep up on her 'children' and then egg her husband on gives the impression that she might be just as responsible for this cult as he is. Perhaps she has molded him into the monster we see before us.

This close-knit film is fraught with tension, thanks to gripping performances from the parents and kids alike. Nigel Bennett particularly standout as the father, while Benjamin Charles Watson and Jenna Warren impress as the son and daughter, respectively. It's a struggle to watch, at times, as you empathize with the kids who have been so severely treated but are within touching distance of freedom if they can overcome their fear.

Worth Watching? 

The Family is a hard watch if child abuse isn’t your cup of tea, but the outstanding acting and dark mood make it well worth your while. An excellent film that explores the depravity of those drunk on power reinforced by a religious hierarchy, and of isolation from the outside world. Highly recommend.

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