In the world of independent short film-dom, Stephen King has always been a beaming light of inspiration for film-makers. He offers the rights to any of his hundreds of short stories to any film-maker for only $1 (under certain stipulations of course), giving a film-maker a boundless supply of material, and a built in audience of interest to boot. Suffer the Little Children is one of King’s more heralded short stories, leaning more into a psychological drama, as opposed to his usual horror yarns. Under his “Dollar Babies” moniker, Suffer the Little Children has been made into a handful of adaptations from different film-makers over the years. The new update from director Corey Norman and writer Haley Norman is a fine entry into those annals.
Director Norman has delivered a very faithful, if slightly rendered vision of King’s story, and provides a very engaging adaptation. Ms. Sidley (Anne Bobby) lives a relatively vacant existence as a third grade English teacher. She spends her evenings quietly munching on her dinner for one, and rules with an iron fist in her classroom. Her co-workers at the school look at her as an oddball Old Maid, and as the film displays, one of her students has begun to taunt her psychologically. Young Robert (Andrew Lyndaker) begins a game of manipulation on Ms. Sidley, moments that seem to haunt her on a daily basis.
Robert seems to have a strange power, that is never really explained, one that he displays to Ms. Sidley in a horrific way. Robert shape-shifts his face infront of her, causing her to flee from the school, stark raving. As Ms. Sidley tries to warn others about Robert’s powers, she is met with a lukewarm reaction. As Ms. Sidley tries to fight her own fragile mind over what is happening between her and her students, the film moves into the third act with a shocking and faithfully executed climax.
This adaptation of Suffer the Little Children is a well thought out, and visually striking take from director Norman. The pacing is terrific, the effects subtle yet effective and the music and sound design top notch. Anne Bobby brings life into the Ms. Sidley character with a great performance, allowing her character to be overbearing and sympathetic at just the right moments.
Overall, Suffer the Little Children is a faithful adaptation to Stephen King’s story, a well paced and masterfully crafted short, with a terrific lead performance to anchor it all.
The film is currently on the festival tour, recently winning Best Short Film and Best Actress at the Horrorhound Festival in Indianapolis. More info can be found at http://bonfirefilmsonline.com