Well, it’s time to look at a really old film that couldn’t manage to be that good. It’s an uncommon occurrence, but we have seen it occur as with the Picture of Dorian Grey. This film is much worse than that one and we’re talking 2001 levels of wince worthiness. The concept doomed the film from the start so there’s not much that it could have done, but it still managed to underwhelm.
Christine’s life seems to be just about perfect. Her husband is a hard working member of the army and her daughter is extremely polite. Mix that in with her nice neighbors and she really couldn’t hope for better. Unfortunately, her life begins to unravel once she finds out that her daughter is not quite as nice as she appears. No, she is actually pretty bad and now she must decide what to do with Rhoda. Will she even be able to do something about this situation?
Well, I’ve got to start somewhere so let’s just look at one of the film’s big problems from the get go. That’s the plot. For horror films, I prefer (in this order) the villain to be a Kaiju>>>Monster>>>Alien>>Super Powered Thug>>>Random guy>>>Friend>>>Family Member>>>Main Character. I never like it when the big villain actually turns out to be a family member or the main character. “The main character is the villain” twist almost never works and it makes it hard to root for anyone. I also don’t care for the friend ultimately becoming the big villain either in this kind of film although it can work out depending on how it’s handled. In a more comic bookey film like the Avengers, it works out beautifully, but imagining that subplot in an old film like this one…well it wouldn’t work.
It’s naturally used because a twist like this can really be milked for emotional value and you know that the characters will have a tough time taking Rhoda to the authorities despite the fact that she is a murderer. Well, it may cause some drama for the characters, but as a film plot, it’s more annoying than anything else. The heroes know what they should do and watching them not do it can be sad. By “them” I’m really talking about Christine.
The Bad Seed also drags on a lot. It may only be a little over 2 hours, but it’ll feel like 3 by the time that it is done. I was 1 hour into the film and I thought that we were at the ending because it had been so long. Little did I know that we weren’t quite done yet. It helps that we all know how mean Rhoda is, but the characters refuse to believe it for a while. So, you can only watch a villain trick the heroes with a cutesy act for so long before you begin to get bored.
The film did opt for a different ending than the book and both have their demerits so it’s tough to say which is better. Naturally, I can’t even go too much into this area for spoiler reasons, but the best ending would have been to send Rhoda to jail. This doesn’t get to happen, but I’m happy that the aunt got to survive. She was definitely one of the better characters in the film and she really meant well. She even has a Lovebird so you can tell that she’s a respectable person. The film doesn’t resort to animal violence so I’ll give the film some props there.
The film has one character named Leroy who doesn’t add anything to the movie. He is just here to the audience has another unlikable character to root against. I suspect that this is supposed to make you want to take Rhoda’s side despite what she has done. They simply didn’t need to add this guy and at least his wisecrack about someone being lonely doesn’t go anywhere. I was expecting it too and for Rhoda to destroy him, proving that her skills can be used for good. That doesn’t happen though and we’re left with a bad character.
Rhoda is definitely not good as well. Her reasons for destroying people boil down to one thing. She simply wants whatever she can’t have and she’ll destroy anyone to get it. She destroys a kid, an old lady, and an adult so she covers all of the bases. Naturally, this doomed her as a character from the start and we have more cases of civilian deaths, which aren’t cool. Destroying characters who can’t fight back is always pretty distasteful and it was yet another nail in the coffin for this movie. It’s also a stretch that the kid made it to the raft and the lifeguard didn’t notice, but Rhoda tends to plan for everything.
Christine also deserves some of the blame since she tries to cover this up rather than going to the proper authorities like she should have. That was a critical mistake on her part and it’s something that she should have tried a little harder to avoid. Instead of doing that, she just decides to cross the line and it’s not a great move. I also have to question the ending because it means that the shot must not have hit something critical. I don’t see how you can miss at such close range.
The film has an interesting tale about bad seeds and the theory where you can inherit being evil through your genes as opposed to the environment shaping you. It’s the Nature vs Nurture argument that people like to discuss and it’s naturally a bit of a mix. I’m more on the Nature side as in the soul, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the genes. You can inherit someone’s looks and probably a bit of their character as well, but the choices between good and evil are ultimately your own. Nobody’s destined to be a great person or to be a bad one. That’s simply something that you decide from the get go. The film suggests otherwise and I definitely disagree there. Rhoda became a bad person on her own and it ultimately came back to bite her.
Still, if the whole film had just been a discussion between the professionals, that could have been entertaining. Listening to theories and such is always pretty enjoyable and it may not be for everyone, but 2 hours of that could actually be amusing so long as they don’t begin to run in circles. I suppose that just about everything would have been an improvement for this film though. It didn’t even have a soundtrack to protect us from the events. Had the villain been the neighbor’s daughter and she was attacking the heroes, that could have been more amusing. They’d still need to cut out her attack on the old lady and the kid, but it could have worked. “Could” being the key word of course.
Overall, The Bad Seed is a film that I highly suggest skipping. It’s really just a tragedy film where you watch the main characters cry and experience more sad events as the movie goes on. We naturally get to see the victim’s mom appear and we find out that the experience basically broke her. She is now a drunk and then Christine basically breaks by the end. If I want to see something breaking, I’ll look at a documentary of Super Smash Bros Brawl’s reputation! Tragedies are like Horrors in the fact that neither one of them tends to be very good. If you want a film with some sad scenes that is still great, check out Yugioh Bonds Beyond Time. We do get an emotional death and things tend to get very intense very quickly, but it balances that out with good plot progression and some action. Just watching the sad scenes over and over again does not make a film and that’s where The Bad Seed went wrong.