The Omen fills me with anti-maternal instincts.
Below is the trailer for The Boy, a horror movie that comes out this weekend. You can watch, but you’ll get scared, so here is what it’s about. An American heads to England to nanny for a rich family that lives in one of those old wealthy-person estates that’s decorated in a “something seriously messed-up happened here” design scheme. We learn quite quickly that our nanny’s charge, a little boy named “Brahms,” is not actually a boy but a creepy doll containing the evil spirit of a son who died in a horrible fire many, many years ago. Good stuff.
The Boy is an example of my favorite type of horror movie: the ones that are really just thinly veiled allegories for various anxieties surrounding procreation and motherhood. We might ask ourselves, Will I be a good mother? Do I even want children? Will I have enough money or sanity to raise a healthy, well-adjusted child? But this sub-genre exposes the real, core fear behind all those questions: Will my child be some sort of evil demon spawn who tries to kill me?
There are so many entries into this subgenre, it’s a wonder doctors just don’t prescribe a film syllabus instead of an IUD. When someone invasively asks “Hey you, unmarried woman who appears to be of child-rearing age, do you want kids?” my reply is: You must be crazy, have you seen The Babadook? Or any of the following movies that are probably better birth control than my monthly Yasmin.
The Bad Seed: A real classic gem about a housewife, Christine Penmark, and her little pigtailed angel Rhoda. Rhoda is a good student, a talented piano player, and also very good at murdering, it turns out. You can create a beautiful, loving home and your child still might be a sociopath who killed little Monica for her tap shoes. (1956)
Rosemary’s Baby: A young woman gets impregnated by Satan, literally gives birth to the Antichrist. You don’t really know what’s up with that fetus, do you? (1968)
The Omen: An American family is literally raising the Antichrist. It could happen to you. (1976)
Children of the Corn: A young couple stumbles upon a remote town run by children who believe everyone over the age of 18 must be killed off. Trust no child, for they trust no adult. (1984)
Child’s Play: A classic tale about Chucky, a possessed, murderous doll. If you don’t have children, you don’t have to buy toys, thereby diminishing the chance that that toy will come to life and try to kill you. (Even if you’re the mom from Seventh Heaven, a TV show that is also great birth control.) (1988)
Joshua: After the birth of their second child, Brad and Abby Cairn notice that their firstborn basically wants to kill them. In the end, Joshua rips his family apart with terrifyingly advanced manipulations. The takeaway: Some relationships are not strong enough to survive child-rearing. (2007)
We Need to Talk About Kevin: Tilda Swinton is at her best as Eva, the mother of a detached, antisocial son, Kevin. At the beginning of the film, we find out that teenage Kevin is in prison after committing a massacre at his high school, but the rest of the movie is a flashback telling the story of the childhood and adolescent behaviors that led up to the event. It’s an eerie, slow build to the tragedy that will scare the uterus right out of you. (2011)
The Babadook: This Australian indie film about a troubled single mother and her very troubled son (who are stalked and terrorized by a monster from a children’s book) demonstrates what happens when you have to care for a needy, screaming child who never lets you finish using your vibrator, and you haven’t yet dealt with your own emotional trauma — you become the monster. (2014)
Goodnight Mommy: A truly terrifying mindfuck of a film about twin boys who move home with their mother, who just had facial surgery. They have no idea if the bandaged figure is their mother or someone else (evil). The twist at the end will ensure you never have sex again. (2015)