Amelia’s Children

March 1, 202430/1006 min
Brigette Lundy-Paine, Carloto Cotta, Alba Baptista
Written by
Gabriel Abrantes
Directed by
Gabriel Abrantes
Run Time
1h 33min
Release Date
March 1st, 2024
Overall Score
Rating Summary

          One of the many reasons I love movies is that they might help talk me out of an idea that may have crept into my head. They’re not just great for keeping you from trying something you’ll regret; they also can remind you of the things you should never do. Some of you might think that’s not a way to live, but you’ll never find me staying in a cabin in the woods or telling anyone what my favorite scary movie is over the phone. All of this is to say, movies teach lessons, and the more you know, the better equipped you are to avoid making bad decisions.

Ed (Carloto Cotta) is a man who does not know who his family is. Now, on the day he celebrates as his birthday, he receives a call informing him that they cannot locate any information that will lead him to his family. Lucky for him, he does have a great girlfriend in Riley (Brigette Lundy-Paine), who is all the family he needs right now. For his birthday, Riley gives him a DNA test, and sure enough, it finds Ed’s long-lost brother, while also reaffirming my own thoughts of never wanting to get one. That brother lives in Portugal, and together with Riley, they head there to meet the family he always wanted. Once there, Ed discovers he doesn’t just have a brother, but a twin brother, who has an even bigger surprise. That surprise is Ed’s mother, Amelia, who welcomes her long-lost son back into her arms. While Ed is experiencing bliss, Riley is starting to sense something strange is going on. Although she sees it, she can’t convince Ed, and as they stay longer, her and Ed’s survival rest on him getting to see the truth about his new family.

Written by Gabriel Abrantes, who also directs, Amelia’s Children delivers a story that telegraphs its intentions and ends up being way too predictable. Things do start off on the right foot, with its opening scene delivering the right amount of tension, but sadly, that is the film’s high point. After that, the cracks start to show and only grow bigger, as the concepts feel shallow as a film it takes the safest route, even though it has some nasty ideas. Adding to the cracks is the pacing, as Abrantes takes the slow-burn route, but somehow the story seems to be moving a lot quicker, almost like they are in a race to wrap it up.

Amelia’s Children has some great tools in its toolbox but never uses the more interesting ones. Instead, it takes a more conventional approach that doesn’t have the punch that other films that might have inspired it. I will give props to both Cotta, who is playing multiple roles, and Lundy-Paine, who is great as Riley, but neither is strong enough to carry a story that just struggles. This could have been something terrifying, but instead, things feel bland, and I think everything would have worked better if they leaned more into the campiness. I was hoping this would be something good, but the film sacrifices anything good for a story that wraps up in the least interesting way.

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