Greetings, avid pupils, and welcome to another edition of hoopla Film School!
When we think of the great villains and nemeses in cinema, our minds are likely to conjure iconic images of relentless stalkers like Jason Voorhees, opens a new window, urbane psychopaths like Hannibal Lecter, opens a new window and Patrick Bateman, opens a new window, or omnipotent shapeshifters like Pennywise the Clown, opens a new window. But sometimes our movie "baddies" take on a more insidious and deceptive form, as seemingly guileless, vulnerable beings that need our care and protection (or so we think): evil children!
From 1956 noir classic The Bad Seed, opens a new window to recent horror hits like Orphan, opens a new window, the film world boasts an entire elementary school's worth of malicious moppets. Check out some of the choice titles from the Killer Kiddo canon available now at hoopla...and watch your back on the playground!
Bloody Birthday, opens a new window
Steven, Curtis, and Debbie are three cherubic children born in the same hospital during the same solar eclipse, which somehow corrupts their little baby minds with unspeakable malevolence (don't worry, this phenomenon will be explained by a character with conveniently intricate knowledge of astrology). Ten years later, the residents of their idyllic suburban town become the targets of their killing spree, and no one is safe from the wrath of baseball bat beatings or jump rope strangulation. While the plot is pretty hare-brained and silly, this long lost grindhouse classic is fun, absorbing, and surprisingly well-paced.
We Need to Talk About Kevin, opens a new window
When a troubled teenage boy carries out a devastating school massacre, his mother is left in its wake to endure the scorn of a shattered community and confront her own ambivalent feelings about motherhood. Lionel Shriver's provocative novel, opens a new window of nature vs. nurture is brought to blistering life by esteemed Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, with Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller both delivering unforgettable, arresting performances in the lead roles (and it speaks to the acting chops of both that they later stole scene after scene in Judd Apatow's Train Wreck, opens a new window). This is a film I'm truly scared to revisit!
Let the Right One In, opens a new window
Eli is an ancient vampire in the body of a young girl. Oskar is a sensitive young boy who is ruthlessly bullied at school. When these two lonely souls become next door neighbors, they strike up a friendship of unusual intimacy and loyalty. But their fierce bond will soon be put to the test when Oskar discovers that his new friend might be the reason behind a series of grisly murders plaguing their stark suburban town. Filled with dazzling cinematography of wintry Swedish scenery and subtle, moving performances from the young leads, Let the Right One In is a rare and hypnotic tale of first love that will stay with you.
Children of the Corn, opens a new window
During a cross-country road trip, a young couple loses their way and ends up stranded in the desolate, rural town of Gatlin, Nebraska. Their efforts to find help are horrifyingly thwarted when they discover that the town is populated entirely by a sect of eerie religious children who sacrifice adults to a cornfield-dwelling entity they call "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" (YIKES! Way to be creepy, you creepy kids). The distinctly '80s scares and gore might not hold up for many a contemporary viewer, but I still count these stoic children in their Amish-style garb among my most feared horror villains of all time.