The Bad Seed's Rhoda Penmark

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Horror films and the concept of childhood have had a complex relationship. This is so because one of the central themes of horror which is the corruption of good by evil. Childhood is an ideal representation of innocence in its purest form. However; horror films love to break away from this theme. Even though it is sometimes controversial using children to represent horror themes, it attracts people to see what situations the director or writer puts the child in. Andrew Schaill, writer of “It Takes a Child to Raze a Village: Demonizing Youth Rebellion” states “The child monster had become a standard of the horror genre and among its most financially rewarding subjects.” (64) Meaning that even though it is controversial to use children, it…show more content…
This idea comforts audiences and states that women stay in their proper place. But when America was going through a massive social change (1950s-1960s), terrifying little girls made their debut. Their presence in horror films told the audience that little girls (not even women) would have the power to over throw men. In 1956, The Bad Seed’s Rhoda Penmark, born to be a sociopath, murders a classmate and the janitor who suspects her of the murder of her classmate. While Rhoda gets away with the murders in the book, in the film she is punished for her actions. Also to note is that Rhoda’s mother is a single parent trying to protect and understand her daughter. During this time, it was uncommon to see a single mother on screen trying to provide for her family. Because her mother is a single parent, she represents female empowerment. Even though it may seem like Rhoda’s mother is a weak individual, she does exemplify qualities of female empowerment for the older generation. It is later revealed that Rhoda’s grandmother was a serial killer motioning that sociopathic tendencies are passed down generation after generation. This notion of female murderous rage, passed down through generations and claiming boys/men as its victims, reflects social fear at the time. The terror that society feels while looking at these little girls echoes the terror…show more content…
For a director to get away with including the murder of a child, they have to work really hard to earn the trust of the audience. In the article “The Bad Seeds” by John Patterson, he discusses what directors should do if they plan to kill a child in their movie “If you're planning to off any children in your movie, the first question is all about your motivation…unless you manage to persuade the audience that the kid in question is so malevolent and evil… ” The child must be strike a nerve with the audience or just murder other individuals to get the sympathy of the audience. This is what Who Can Kill a Child? did so the audience can accept the fact that the husband murdered a bunch of kids. This act of killing children in movies is very difficult but as long as you have the correct motivation, the audience would agree with the

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