October 17, 2011

Violence is Childs Play

Violence is Childs Play

By Jude Felton

I will preface this article by telling you that it will contain spoilers from movies that are yet to be released, or recently released, and from the recently aired The Walking Dead Season 2 opener. So, please don’t say I didn’t warn you, because I did.

Horror movies, and to a lesser degree although this seems to be changing of late TV shows, as well as other genre movies have always tried to find ways to push the audiences buttons. The violence gets more extreme, the gore more explicit and so on ad nauseum. Don’t get me wrong I love a bit of the old ultra-violence, always have and no doubt always will. I have movies in my collection that would make some folk weep, but that is not the point and yes I do have a point. My point is where do movies, or shows, go now in order to push these buttons I speak of.

Well, it would appear that the latest fad is the killing, or maiming, or mutilating of children. It’s bloody everywhere, or so it seems. For me personally I don’t find it disturbing, maybe 30 odd years ago when Romero popped a cap in a couple of zombie kids back in Dawn of the Dead it would have. Not now though. My wife on the other hand does not like it, in fact it upsets her. So, this can make for a frustrating evening of movie viewing when out of the blue we get a baby being murdered, of screen or on it. I find myself having to try and research films in advance now, rather than just being able to slap a good old horror yarn on the box. Inside (A l’interieur) is one movie I won’t watch with her, regardless of how damned good it is, as I know it will freak her out. Ah, but they are horror films so what do you expect? Some might say. True, and I expect to see shocking images, but for one it is fucking with my viewing time and two, it’s already becoming tiresome.

Aside from A l’interieur, which isn’t really a culprit as it sells its story on the cover, you have Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer with its baby murder, then subsequent creepy corpse scene, Dream House, believe it or not, with the protracted death scenes of the two daughters (the movie is after set of a family being murdered), A Serbian Film with its New Born Porn and other less than pleasant moments, A Game of Thrones with a child being pushed out of a window to what we initially think is his death, and now The Walking Dead with a gunshot out of the blue (very well done I might add). Even Harry Potter is at it. Well, not him personally. I could find more if I really gave it a bit of thought.

Shocks can be effective without feeling the need to kill a kid just to get a reaction. Bereavement was an incredibly disturbing movie in places, and it was the threat that made the movie work and not necessarily carrying through on that threat. When it is done well it can be incredibly effective, yet right now it seems to be going in to child overkill.

Have the creative powers run out of ideas of how to shock viewers? Is that what horror, and other genres, has boiled down to now; the need to shock? Why not try throwing in a few scares along the way? Movies such as Poltergeist, and the similarly themed Insidious, managed to use the child in peril them perfectly and throw in a few scares along the way. Hell, Paranormal Activity uses this theme well. As I mentioned, the threat is more effective than the kill. Anyone can kill a child on screen and illicit a short, sharp visual shock, but it is boring.

You could argue that it is tapping into the Maternal, or Paternal, instincts in viewers. Maybe, maybe not. I myself am a parent but these scenes don’t upset me, I just see them for what they are and that is cheap thrills. It is almost up there with the jump scare. Hey, let’s throw a cat across the screen! No, fuck that, let’s gut a baby instead!

I am sure there are more to come, and they will all think they are very clever and disturbing, and I can hardly contain myself in anticipation. Everything gets old hat at some point, and no doubt this will when filmmakers find something new to try and shock us with. I’d just like to see a little more imagination please. Is that too much to ask?


Mary Kirkland said...

This doesn't bother me like it does some others. I can sit through and watch just about anything. You know what will make me wince...someone digging out a great big fat worm from a tree and biting into it...watching all those juicy guts go spraying inside and outside their mouth and hearing the crunching of the the little bug body parts. Yep, that will get me everytime.

steph said...

Thank you for this, just seems there used to be an invisible line that nobody would dare touch, and that being the child killing. It seems its everywhere now and I can't seem to just sit down and enjoy a movie without it being violently interupted by the death of a child. And not just death, but grusome, close ur eyes , prolonged death. You're quite right tho it is getting old. It was an unspoken rule that you just didn't kill off kids and it was nice for me personally to have that peace of mind. Hopefully they'll find something new to try soo :/

vishesh said...

can u name the movie from the first pic in this in this article
image below the the title "Violence is Childs Play"
thanks in advance!

Lord of Filth said...

It's from the HBO tv show Game of Thrones