Parents' Guide to

The Bad Seed (1956)

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Evil little girl hides her murderous ways in dated classic.

Movie NR 1956 129 minutes
The Bad Seed (1956) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Good movie

This original movie had me in shock and disbelief how a child could be so evil. This isn't scary with monsters but scary because this could be the kid next door. I seen this movie as a child and it gave me chills. I truly love this movie and talk about how I don't scare easily but this movie had always given me chills. Just to think that little girls are just as evil as a grown man.

This title has:

Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

In some ways, this movie is a dated and creaky time capsule of its era, reverberating with post-World War II anxiety and fear, informed by the certainty that pure evil (think Hitler) exists. But recognizing that fact still doesn't explain it, and explanation is what The Bad Seed is after. The overarching postwar anxiety is communicated in the film's opening moments. A thunderstorm brews over a dark, deserted pier and screechy strings dominate an agitated orchestral score. As if in a desperation to explain the inexplicable, people show an interest in and growing acceptance of the psychiatric theories of Sigmund Freud -- they are all the rage in the 1950s. One character boasts about her analysis and drops such terms as "schizophrenic," "psychopathic," and "paranoid" into casual conversation. It's all there -- anxiety about unnamed impending doom and a group of characters who believe they're well prepared to identify and name the root causes of whatever might befall them. Little do they know what's in store, but the far-from-subtle setup makes certain that the audience does. Evil, we are assured, does lurk, whether we can explain it or not. Just as Hitler's Aryan perfectionism cloaked inhuman baseness, Rhoda's good manners and precociousness cover an inner corruption.

Despite the Freudian references, there is no character development here, just melodrama and thriller pacing. The source material is a 1954 William March novel, adapted that same year into a long-running Maxwell Anderson play whose success spawned the movie.

Movie Details

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