And sometimes, they suffer in silence. Suffer, Little Children was a Holy Grail for collectors of ultra-low budget oddities; shot on video for a song with a troupe borrowed from a local British acting studio, the film used its own trumped-up mythology as an “almost” video nasty to move some tapes in a golden age when it was fairly easy to do. Alas, they didn’t, and Suffer became a black market curiosity. Enter Intervision, who once again drag the waters to revive a long-lost film, restored to pristine grime on DVD.

Taking place at a children’s group home in London, Suffer’s story begins when young Elizabeth arrives on the doorstep with a note saying she’d be better off there. Elizabeth is also mute, which soon gives way to much scowling and glaring on her part. We soon learn that Elizabeth is possessed by the Devil himself, with a kid falling down the stairs here, a levitating flower pot there, a zombie picnic here again. (I know we weren’t originally at the picnic, but it feels great to type it.) In no short order, Elizabeth makes the other kids her minions, as they lay waste to the grown-ups who are… bringing them down, I guess? When all hope is lost, who will defeat Elizabeth/the Devil? You might believe me if I told you, but you really should see for yourself…

Suffer, Little Children is not a good movie by any definition. There will be no quotes around the word; it is objectively poorly made in most ways: direction, effects, pacing, plot. There is an exorbitant amount of talking for a 75-minute feature, especially in the first hour, when the going can be a bit slow. It only fitfully works, sputtering when it should race, and crawling when it should walk.

But then the last 15 minutes happen, and that’s really why you should stick around. Suffer becomes the movie you were hoping for in the first hour (hell, every no-budget movie could use these 15 minutes) and then some, with slayings abounding and a big save from a guy who’s a big deal in certain theologies. Which naturally comes complete with zapping sounds, and frankly I’m all for having more Atari bleeps in every apocalyptic showdown.

Add the soundtrack to the win column as well. Any time Elizabeth shows up, glorious metal blares from the screen, guitars grinding as she squints at her latest victim. There’s even a theme song to rock out to long after the pixelated credits roll, which are terrific as well, thanking the parents of the kid actors for putting up with the shenanigans.

For what you’re really getting is a class project, and Meg Shanks’ acting studio actually offering up some not-bad performances for this kind of work; improvising a lot of the dialogue and deciding to keep it all, apparently—but it’s not the stiffest cast, to be certain. I suppose one could credit director Alan Briggs, but he seems like more of a wrangler than a filmic talent due to his background as a music promoter. But there is a can-do spirit to all of it that culminates in that last act, charming the viewer with every cheap sound effect and even cheaper gore gags. Ultimately, Suffer, Little Children wins over the viewer on enthusiasm, chutzpah, and one of the greatest cameos of any film. So it is written.

As is often the case, the story behind the film is just as interesting, and Intervision has a couple of featurettes to fill you in. "School of Shock" is an interview with Briggs, in which he discusses how he came to the project (spoiler: an ex-spouse), and the ensuing hullabaloo over the film’s release. Not the cheeriest of fellows in spots, which for me makes for a more interesting chat.

Next up is "Seducing the Gullible," an interview with video nasty expert John Martin, which boils down the whole hysteria succinctly for the uninitiated, and the fruitless furor surrounding Suffer specifically. A good jumping-off point for those curious about this fascinating era of censorship. Rounding out the features is a new, fun trailer. How does the film look, you say? It was shot on a camcorder, folks. Unless Christopher Nolan comes out with a 4K scan to show in IMAX, this is the best it will ever be, and it works for me.

Charming is the key word that comes to mind with Suffer, Little Children. Charming in its conception, and very charming in execution. And while you wait for that blessed final 15, keep your eyes peeled for the occasional stabbing, floating planter, and of course, the zombie picnic. And don’t worry, Elizabeth will be waiting for you, metal music in her veins and with a special guest you’ll never forget.

Movie Score: 3/5, Disc Score: 3.5/5

  • Scott Drebit
    About the Author - Scott Drebit

    Scott Drebit lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is happily married (back off ladies) with 2 grown kids. He has had a life-long, torrid, love affair with Horror films. He grew up watching Horror on VHS, and still tries to rewind his Blu-rays. Some of his favourite horror films include Phantasm, Alien, Burnt Offerings, Phantasm, Zombie, Halloween, and Black Christmas. Oh, and Phantasm.