The Bad Seed Reviews
Why are you pleading with her?! Beat her ass! I hate the mother more than the child, & her endlessly cracking voice. It gets into major melodrama territory. Drones on too long. But there is real drama that draws you in. Many noteworthy themes. The idea of the film itself sticks with you.
* pretentious dialogue
* at 129 minutes is 30 minutes too long. not adapted well from the stage to film.
* acting by Patty MacCormick was good as evil girl
* violent ending
Rhoda Penmark is a prim and proper girl and one who seems like a dream to any parent with her insistence on dressing nicely, playing the piano beautifully, her seemingly friendly demeanor towards those closest to her, and her dogged determination to be good at everything and be the best.
After her father leaves for military service, Rhoda is taken by her mother to a class picnic, though Rhoda is quite agitated that she didn't get the medal for penmanship from the teacher, but rather another student named Claude Daigle.
Before her mother, Christine, leaves the picnic, she has a discussion with Rhoda's teacher about how she's doing in school, which the teacher seems to express concern over Rhoda's behavior towards other students and how she is essentially an outcast from the other students due to her rather abrasive attitude towards them.
Though somewhat upset and confused by this revelation, Christine goes home to have a nice lunch with some friends. During this visit, Christine overhears on the radio that a student at the picnic drowned in the nearby lake, which worries Christine when the child is not immediately identified. Her fears are alleviated when the follow-up report discloses that it was another student...Claude Daigle.
When Rhoda gets home, her mother thinks that like any person, she would be traumatized and want to talk about it. Instead, Rhoda displays no sadness or empathy of any sort towards her dead classmate, and wants to go roller skating.
This lack of emotion becomes of great concern to Christine, though she tries to shake it off. Still, she can't understand or really reason why her daughter would feel nothing about this tragic death.
Her suspicion becomes heightened when Rhoda's teacher and Claude's mother come by her home asking if Rhoda has any idea where Claude's medal is, since a witness stated that he saw her with Claude out by the lake shortly before his death. These accusations anger Christine and she doesn't want to believe that her daughter could have possibly done this.
However, as more things are revealed about Rhoda and more people start dying in mysterious accidents, things start to take a frightening turn for Christine, especially as she begins to learn about her own mysterious past and the theory about a "bad seed" child in regards to Christine's past.
The story is very fascinating, especially how it makes a case for the "bad seed" theory and how some people can be simply born evil and can kill without conscience or second thought. The character Rhoda is one of the most intimidating, manipulative, and scary characters ever put in a horror film, much like Norman Bates in Psycho or Preacher Harry Powell in The Night Of The Hunter. She is truly scary, and the film also features a host of interesting characters, some of whom are also shady and have troubled pasts. On top of being a damn good horror and thriller story, the film also works expertly as a drama as things become unraveled in this twisted household. There is a lot of depth to this story, especially as the plot twists and shocking secrets are revealed.
The acting, as expected, is quite good. However, for a child actor, Patty McCormick does a great job as Rhoda. Rarely ever do child actors do a good job, but this film is among the rare exceptions, and not only that, but she actually steals the show with her scary performance, especially with her qualities to manipulate, deceive, and intimidate. The other actors, like Nancy Kelly as Christine, also does a great job with her performance as a mother trying to come to terms with what her daughter has done and what she is capable of, because she feels believable for this scenario.
Is it scary? Yes, yes it is. The plot unfolds quite carefully as a slow-burn horror flick, but it was done so well that the 129-minute running time felt like nothing because of all the things contained within the story, the sheer number of shocking moments, and riveting acting. It's a scary, complex, dramatic, and thoroughly entertaining film that goes above and beyond what is expected in its particular genre and then some.
If you love a good horror film that's a slow-burner, The Bad Seed is something you need to get for your film library. It's scary, intense, superbly acted, well written, and engaging from start to finish. It's packs one hell of a mean punch and once it cuts loose, it never lets up until the end.