"Devil Times Five" (also known under a slew of various titles, including "Peopletoys," "The Horrible House on the Hill," and "Tantrums") focuses on a small mountain village where a group of sleazy adults are vacationing. Nearby, a psychiatric facility van transporting five delusional, homicidal children, crashes, unleashing the little terrors. When they seek refuge in the snowy vacation community, a countdown on adult bodies ensues.
Well, well, well—this is a weird one. Clearly shot on a shoestring budget and with a script that delivers little in the way of surprises, "Devil Times Five"'s greatest strength is the dwindling presence of its adult figures, as the demented children clobber, hack, ignite, piranha bath(?) and slash them to the bits. The film evokes a dingy, dreary atmosphere that recalls that of "Don't Go in the Basement" and other '70s horror obscurities, and that may be the singular reason to watch this film; there is something unsettling captured here in the aesthetics and content, which is the case for so many of these films.
On the other hand, the film is a technical disaster in more ways than one. Bizarre editing and offbeat pacing afflict the film's first act; the kitschy seventies aesthetic will seem to override the possibility of any and all horror, but the last half of the film is remarkably grim and borderline nihilistic. The kids themselves all have their own delusional personalities; one carries himself as an Army commander, while another believes himself to be a child star; another even more bizarrely believes herself to be a nun, and dresses accordingly. The children in the film have more personality than their victims, which is an unusual quirk for the genre.
Overall, "Devil Times Five" is a sloppy yet effective film, and one that I'd probably only recommend for grindhouse fans and those who enjoy the grittier side of pre-millennial horror. In spite of its technical shortcomings and mediocre acting, the film does capture a dreary atmosphere which grows progressively darker and darker as the film goes on; there is a definite sick center to the film, an inherent nastiness that comes with children embodying physical evils, and I dare say no film has captured it with such a cynical lens. 6/10.