The Omen

We Need to Talk About Kevin

With adults, you have to put in a lot of effort to make them creepy – layering on makeup and blood and involving them in increasingly horrific acts to impact increasingly apathetic audiences. With children, however, you often need little more than a cherubic face juxtaposed with an evil act to make an impact. Mixing evil into childhood innocence is often the perfect horror concoction for movies, whether it’s a horror movie teasing at the fear of the unknown or a drama exploring the world of a truly terrible child. Of course, sometimes it’s nothing more than the result of really bad parenting. In the premiere of The Affair, Dominic West’s son fakes a suicide to get a rise out of his dad. But when West’s Noah quickly gets over his anger and shrugs off the stunt, it’s perfectly obvious why his kid is acting out – dad is an ineffectual parent. But sometimes it’s about much more than slightly atypical adolescent rebellion. Nothing compares to the chills that a child can evoke, whether they’re the perpetrators of evil or the seemingly innocent guardians of it with their redrum warnings. Many of our most chilling cinematic moments come at the hands of children, whether it’s little Gage bringing Mommy knives in Pet Semetary, twins wanting to play in The Shining, or some of the most truly terrifying images, like Linda Blair’s young Regan in The Exorcist – a film whose frights transcend the tarnish of age. Here are some of […]

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IntroOneRole

Imagine if Edward Norton had made Primal Fear and decided to just bounce after that, or if Johnny Depp called it quits after Edward Scissorhands. Even though he was in a few films before that (including Nightmare on Elm Street), had that happened, no one would have thought twice about the guy – not unlike how zero people really think twice about the following actors and actresses…

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As most of us no doubt know, it’s hard enough just to live with yourself after committing a gruesome murder – let alone dealing with logistics of the body and police and all that jazz. Thank god the act itself can be done pretty easily these days – what with all the guns and knives and catapults we have access to. Of course the problem is that your victim is always going to see it coming when you’re wheeling out your homemade trebuchet, which is why the best weapon is the one that’s right under their noses. The moving pictures know this, and have given us some remarkable kills with very unremarkable items in the past… Oh also – be warned now, the following is pretty gross.

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There are few human connections as assured and indelible as the bond between a mother and her child. At least, that’s what we’re led to believe. But what happens when that connection simply isn’t there? What happens when these two beings physically part ways after existing as one for nine months only to see their emotional tethering end as well? We Need to Talk About Kevin explores that theme to a tragic and painful conclusion, but it does so with a beautiful emptiness. Style trumps content in an effort to examine the origin of a monstrous act, but while the film seems content letting everyone blame the mother (including the mother herself) for what eventually happens it never passes up an opportunity to show the child’s inherently evil nature. Neither of them change or grow from beginning to end, but the lack of a real narrative or character arc sure does look pretty.

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When people are talking about the best horror movies of all time, they often use the term “horror classic.” I’m not exactly sure how that’s different from a movie that’s just a “classic,” but I think it’s somehow implying that movies where people get decapitated aren’t as good as serious dramas. I often hear the 1976 version of The Omen referred to as a “horror classic,” so I guess what that means is that it’s really good for a movie where people get decapitated. In 1993 a couple of superstar little kids named Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin starred in a movie called The Good Son. It’s never been called either a “classic” or a “horror classic,” but that might be because nobody gets decapitated in it.

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For those of you new to the column, I am recalling pivotal events in my life that contributed to what I am today: A Special Make Up Effects Artist searching for relevance in the 21st Century. I had learned about liquid latex; I had my Super 8mm camera. Now, all I needed was the spark, the inspiration to push me. I am 15 years old… High School is a major adjustment for everyone, and I was no different. Archbishop Shaw High School in Marrero, Louisiana was not known for its liberal arts education. It didn’t have the reputation for being an Ivy League prep school. It was known for its football team. Consisting of an all-male student body you can imagine what life for a pudgy, sci-fi/horror loving, non-athlete was like. I was lucky, however, that when I entered the school as a freshman, my brother was already a senior. I had fallen in with a group of friends that carried over from grammar school that had similar interests, but for the most part, we knew we would have to keep a low profile in order to survive. That was Fall of 1976. America had enjoyed its big 200th birthday party that July and we movie lovers had a pretty good summer between King Kong, Logan’s Run, and The Omen. Hidden in my books were copies of “Starlog” and “Cinefantastique” magazines, and the margins of my notebooks were illuminated with sketches of creatures and space ships. We still had a […]

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Culture Warrior

This editorial features some spoilers for Hanna and Kick-Ass. Consider yourself warned. In preparation for this post I ran a quick Internet search on child assassins and found this video from New York Magazine. While I wasn’t promised a video exclusively on child assassins here, and instead got something that explores the notion of child killers at large, this video conflates two categories of child killers that I think deserve remarkably different types of consideration. The great majority of killings performed by children in this video are from horror movies. From Rosemary’s Baby to The Omen to The Brood to Firestarter to the other Omen and beyond, the child/killer is an exhaustively repeated horror trope to the point of cliche (and is often confused with the simple overlapping category of “scary children,” like in The Shining and The Sixth Sense). But every so often a child-killer horror film comes along that works in line with the formula (The Children, anyone? Bueller? Okay, how about Let Me In?), reminding us why child killers still have the capacity to be engrossing and entertaining even if they’ve lost the ability to be outright horrifying: because they play on our society’s veneration of childhood innocence, replacing the ignorant bliss of childhood with benevolent, malicious intent to do harm to the much taller individuals that surround them. But child assassins are quite different from the overall category of child killers. And while two recent films in two subsequent spring movie seasons that feature child assassins, […]

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Cinematic Creepy Children

There is nothing creepier than small children. Except clowns. Oh, crap, what if someone makes a horror film featuring child-clowns? We’d be screwed, but until that frightful day, these are the Ten Creepiest Children in Film.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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