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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Don't mess with disturbed people. Grown-ups can't see evil right in front of their eyes.
Positive Role Models
A psychopathic teen with no empathy or feelings of compassion for others teaches herself to speak and act normally, all the while remaining happy to kill or maim anyone who puts an obstacle in the path of her desires.
The setting is middle-class comfort in large suburban homes. Middle school students of all colors attend classes together.
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Violence & Scariness
Violence is largely off-screen, remembered, or suggested. The greatest tension comes from the constant potential for violence posed by a disturbed teen who kills or maims to eliminate people in her way. A teen lures a baby to crawl toward an unfenced swimming pool; disaster is averted. A car is deliberately dropped on a man working below, causing him to scream and be hospitalized for major injuries. A lethal fire is set. A dog is chopped up. The killer sedates someone who knows what she has done and kills her in a fire. A girl causes a lethal seizure in a rival over a prestigious position at school. A father who recognizes his child is a psychopathic murderer aims a gun at her and is shot by someone who doesn't know that the kid was the dangerous one. References are made to past murders. A girl briefly puts a plastic bag over her head, then takes it off.
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"Piss" and "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In a brief scene, teens smoke cigarettes and perhaps weed. Adults drink wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Bad Seed Returns is a fairly tame horror movie (based on a play by Maxwell Anderson that was later made into a 1956 movie) about a psychopathic young girl who pretends to be perfectly well behaved but eliminates problems in her life through clever, untraceable murders. A follow-up to the 2018 remake, this continues to present the theme of the "good" child who ruthlessly kills secretly, with lots of hidden menace and most of the violence off-screen. References are made to the death of the girl's father in the previous film. The greatest tension here comes from the constant potential for violence posed by a disturbed teen who kills or maims to eliminate people who get in her way. A teen lures a baby to crawl toward an unfenced swimming pool, but disaster is averted. A car is deliberately dropped on a man working below, causing him to scream and be hospitalized for major injuries. A girl causes a lethal seizure in a rival for a prestigious position at school. A lethal fire is set. A dog is chopped up. The killer sedates someone who knows what she's done and kills her in a fire. Language includes "piss" and "hell." In a brief scene, teens smoke cigarettes and perhaps weed. Adults drink wine. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Like a number of other horror movies about deeply evil children, The Bad Seed Returns is maddeningly simplistic. It's impossible to believe that so many grown-ups -- parents, teachers, relatives, friends, therapists, social workers, cops -- can't put it together that people keep accidentally dying around this girl. It's not that she's some genius of murder. It's that everyone in her life repeatedly, stupidly, ignores the obvious danger. It can be argued that a murderous teen is a lot less scary than the inexplicably murderous 8-year-old of the original stage play and movie, and Emma's advanced age here saps the plot of the story's most terrifying aspect.
This version also feels insipid because The Bad Seed was a mid-century response to post-World War II trauma, when the world was seized by startling and incomprehensible murderous evil on a scale that could not be explained. That context is absent now. The source material is a 1954 William March novel, adapted that same year into a long-running Maxwell Anderson play. In the play, as the little girl got away with murder every night, theater audiences were so frustrated that the producers instituted a post-ending ending. An adult actor would come on stage after the curtain calls and give 9-year-old actress Patty McCormack a satisfying mock spanking. Note that McCormack, who later starred in the 1956 movie, plays Emma's therapist here.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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