As any parent will tell you: there’s nothing scarier than a child.
You worry about what they’re going to stick their fingers in. You worry that they’re taking a bit too much joy in pulling the wings off that fly. You may even worry that they’re developing a hive mind with the other children and just waiting for the right moment to off you and take over the planet.
Well, maybe not that last one, but that is the problem facing the poor parents in The Midwich Cuckoos.
First off: it was a pretty bold choice to name this after the original John Wyndham novel rather than the more recognisable Village Of The Damned.
Sure, it means it avoids comparison to the seminal 1960 film – but it also highlights how badly David Farr has adapted it, as this is one clunky script (especially from the man who brought us The Night Manager).
Watch in horror as the seemingly addict daughter collapses in the street as a literal white horse runs towards her.
Cringe as expectant mother Zoe (Aisling Loftus, not doing her best work) turns to her anxious teacher husband and says, ‘Mr Clyde, listen to me. I can feel life growing inside me.’
Sigh dejectedly as the army sends a helicopter to survey the scene and it inevitably crashes and no-one seems to care.
But, despite these scripting issues, there’s still some fun to be had in The Midwich Cuckoos.
Part of that is because the novel has such a delicious premise you can’t possibly muck it up: an alien encounter leaves every woman of child-bearing age pregnant and those children grow up to be creepy, murderous monsters. Who doesn’t want to watch that?
There are some good performances, too, especially from Keeley Hawes as Dr Susannah Zellaby, a child psychologist (and a part smartly gender-flipped from the original material) who is key to helping the women of the town and also realising that something is very wrong.
And the children themselves are horrifying, bedecked in old-fashioned clothing and with a top-tier dead-eyed stare.
They certainly give you the shivers.
So while it may not pass much muster as a great social commentary – it feels like it’s stumbled into its themes of isolation, surveillance and the woman’s right to choose – it remains strangely compelling.
It’s binge television, basically, and unless we’re going cuckoo sometimes that’s enough.
The Midwich Cuckoos is available to stream from June 3.