Parental Angst Is Real Star of 'Evil-Kiddie' Movies

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2009 6:35 PM CDT
A creepy girl.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – Murderous children have haunted movies since the 1950s—but why, Jonah Weiner wonders on Slate. “The biggest reason for this is the most obvious,” Weiner notes. “What’s creepier than a 4-foot-tall killer in Spongebob pajamas?” But the personification of evil in a child reveals deeper-seated anxieties. “In evil-kiddie movies, we get wild explorations—sometimes unsettling, sometimes hokey, often both—of what it means to raise a child and build a family.”

The evil kids of film tend to come from prosperous families and be outwardly well-behaved. “But all this good behavior quickly grows unnerving,” Weiner writes, “as we realize there’s a dark void behind it.” The genre is unrelentingly moral in its prescriptions for battling a bad seed. “Time and again in the evil-kiddie canon, it’s driven home that Mom and Dad can survive (if not prevent) their child’s attack only by sticking together.”