30 Oct IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS
YOU KNOW what’s amazing to me right now? I’ll pick up a horror magazine, look at the latest articles on the latest horror films, and it seems like 75% of them feature small children as protagonists! You know, sure! If something goes crazy with children, it’s scary. But it’s got to the point where it’s just a bit overdone, because this trend has been happening for a while, at least the last five or ten years. Whenever I think about some of the best horror movies even in that time-span, a lot of them do involve children; like, for instance, The Ring or The Babadook, any of The Conjuring series, The Reckoning series or the Sinister movies. They all involve children. And yeah, it’s scary when you have that not fully-formed individual terrorizing you, your family, your psyche and your whole reality. But damn, it’s just become such an overdone thing.
Looking back, I was trying to remember when kids in horror movies first really happened in this sort of way. Some of the earliest that I can think of are the Village of The Damned/Children of The Damned British movies, and The Innocents, which is also a British movie based on the Henry James novella, The Turn of the Screw. But when you think about it, way back then, in the ’50s and ’60s, those were really the only films that featured children as THE major protagonists.
The ’70s saw things kick up a level, and The Omen is one of the creepier uses of children in horror and really effective, because from the very beginning you KNOW that kid is the son of Satan, and it’s great to watch, just waiting for the evil to manifest. There was Children of the Corn and The Amityville Horror series…but I think the first really major, major film that had a child as a protagonist and that fully hit home was The Exorcist.
After that, all boundaries dissolved. Children became open targets for all sorts of crazy stuff heading into the ’80s, ’90s and whenever. The Sixth Sense, and even The Shining, you know? When it was really first happening like that, it was really something. But nowadays, I see a new movie, I see the poster for it or the ad, and if it has a child in it my heart sinks a little.
In science-fiction, the trend to include children is pretty strong, with movies like Super 8, which was more like Stand By Me. And what’s cool about the children in those movies is that they were believable! Therefore, count movies like Stand By Me or Super 8 because these are films where children are portrayed as children instead of children portrayed as the main victims, or the main protagonist.
A friend of mine just asked me what I thought of Let the Right One In, and I think it’s one of the better movies involving children to come out in the last few years. You don’t really see a lot of movies about children vampires. In fact, Let the Right One In was a bit on the brilliant side because they didn’t take the usual routes with children and preying on our perspective of their innocence, our perspective of just wanting them to be pure beings. With Let the Right One In, you’ve got some of that innocence until you realize she’s a vampire. It stands out from what I’ve been talking about, because it takes it into a realm that hasn’t been occupied too much in movies before, child vampires.
Do I think children in horror is a done deal? Do I think children in horror should die away? Not necessarily. I’m simply raising the awareness, because it seems like a lot of people out there aren’t seeing this and aren’t realizing that it’s starting to become redundant. So I’m hoping that if I raise the awareness around it, maybe some of the screenwriters out there who are fans, who listen to what other people might have to say, maybe they’ll take that into consideration and change their screenplays from children being the main protagonists to something original like… you know… rubber duckies, stuffed animals, grannies, trolls, Granny trolls even! Or something!
Before I take off, I recently saw Willow Creek, which is a Bigfoot movie but for me, it was confusing. I generally like Bigfoot themed movies, but this was really confusing because it looked like it was trying to straddle the line between a faux documentary and horror movie. I couldn’t tell at any given point what it was trying to be more of. It really had the potential to be a great Bigfoot movie, but kind of got lost halfway through.
Lastly, I must comment on the Ash vs Evil Dead TV show. I love that The Evil Dead finally got their own spot on prime-time. Those movies are so epic in my mind, so to get a TV series out of it is just great. I think they’re shooting Season Three. Epic! I would never have thought that I would be getting more Evil Dead like this. And another thing that I have to say that I’m pleased as pie about, is The Exorcist TV show. In my Exorcist-racked brain it’s already 5 stars , and I haven’t had the pleasure to even watch it yet! But just the concept of there being an Exorcist TV show really, really, really makes me really happy.
Happy Halloween ghouls!