Amelia’s Children Invites You to a Deadly Family Reunion

Alba Baptista in AMELIA’S CHILDREN, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Horror is often at its best when it twists something good into an evil caricature of itself. That’s why creepy kids are so enduringly popular, and it’s also what drew me to Amelia’s Children. When I first got wind of this film, I didn’t know much about it. I just knew it centered around a guy reconnecting with his monstrous, possibly supernatural family, and that was enough for me. I simply had to check this movie out, and after finally getting the chance to press play on my screener, I’m happy to report that I made the right call.

Amelia’s Children was written and directed by Gabriel Abrantes, and it stars Brigette Lundy-Paine, Alba Baptista, Anabela Moreira, and Carloto Cotta. In the film, Ed is searching for his biological family, but he’s apparently not having any luck. However, that all changes when his girlfriend Ryley introduces him to a new ancestry service that uses DNA from his blood to find his relatives. The service connects him with his long-lost twin brother Manuel, and Manuel invites the two of them to visit him and his mother, the titular Amelia, in Portugal.

Ed happily accepts, and at first, everything seems just about perfect. Ed finally has a family, Manuel and Amelia’s family is finally whole again, and Ryley is happy to see her boyfriend’s long search come to an end. But as you can probably guess, things aren’t quite as they seem. There’s something a bit off about Manuel and his mother, and we eventually learn that this family isn’t nearly as wholesome as we thought.

A man and a woman inside a house
Brigette Lundy-Payne and Carloto Cotta in AMELIA’S CHILDREN, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Right from the get-go, Amelia’s Children had me absolutely hooked. The movie opens with a couple breaking into Amelia’s home, and at first, we have no idea what they’re trying to do. Our complete ignorance about the situation makes for some great tension and suspense, and when we finally catch on, the scene gets even better.

The couple is trying to kidnap the woman’s twin baby boys, but only one of them succeeds. Amelia manages to stop the other would-be abductor, but we don’t get to see how she does it. All we can tell is that her methods aren’t entirely natural and that inevitably raises a ton of questions. Just who or what is this woman? What exactly is she capable of? And why would this couple risk their lives to kidnap her kids? We don’t have any answers yet, but the mystery is super intriguing.

And as Amelia’s Children goes on, that mystery becomes the heart and soul of the film. Once Ed arrives in Portugal, the red flags start piling up almost immediately, and they don’t stop until the big finale. For instance, even before he and Ryley get to his family’s house, they learn that some of the locals have a seemingly irrational fear of the place. Similarly, after the couple finally make it to Ed’s long-lost home, Manuel shows them a picture of their mother and a painting of one of their more distant female ancestors, and the two women look exactly alike.

It even gets to the point where you can’t help but wonder if seemingly innocuous, throwaway remarks hide a more sinister meaning. For example, there’s a scene in Amelia’s Children where Amelia decides to add Ed as a beneficiary to her estate, and when Ed meets the people working on it, Amelia calls them her slaves. Normally, a comment like that would just be a joke, but given what we know about this woman and her family (as well as what we don’t know!), we can’t be entirely sure.

A woman screaming
Alba Baptista in AMELIA’S CHILDREN, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

We eventually do find out what Amelia’s deal is, but even then, the movie still manages to maintain an air of mystery. It confirms the truth about this woman in a way that also leaves some room for doubt, so even though we’re around 99% sure we know what’s going on, that tiny bit of uncertainty keeps our questions alive. It allows the film to continue adding a few more corroborating details, and every time it does, those revelations feel much more important than they have any right to be.

The whole thing just unfolds at a masterful pace, and when we get to the last 15 minutes or so, Amelia’s Children ramps up the horror to 11. To be fair, I wouldn’t exactly call this part of the movie scary. It has some creepy imagery, but by and large, it’s more concerned with creating a palpable sense of tension and suspense. And in that regard, it’s fantastic. Just like the opening scene, this final act will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and it doesn’t let you relax until the credits begin to roll.

All that being said, I can’t quite say that Amelia’s Children is perfect. While I don’t have any significant problems with the film, there was one thing in it that bothered me a little. Amelia is an old woman, but Anabela Moreira, the actress who plays her, is much younger. She wears a lot of makeup to look the part, and I have to be honest, it’s not great. The movie tries to lean into the bad makeup job by saying that the woman has had a lot of work done, but even then, it still looks fake. It took me out of the story a bit every time she was on screen, so it put somewhat of a damper on an otherwise fantastic experience.

But in the grand scheme of things, that’s a relatively minor complaint, so I’m happy to report that Amelia’s Children is still a great little film. It revolves around an absolutely fascinating central mystery that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end, and it also features some excellent tension and suspense along the way. It’s exactly what I hoped it would be, so if you’re looking for some good new horror to watch, I highly recommend that you give this movie a shot.

Amelia’s Children is set to hit VOD on March 1.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters.

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