Horror films have often dealt with a mother’s fear of bearing a wicked offspring. Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen took it literally, bestowing the seed of Satan on their heroines. What if, however, there are no demonic forces involved? The child is yours and as much as you tried, you’ve never been able to convince yourself that you truly wanted him. Despite all your best efforts and sacrifice, you watched him grow from a harrowing baby, to an insufferable brat, to a full-blown sociopath, and just before turning 16, he commits an unspeakable act of terror designed specifically, it seems, to bring your whole world to ruins – what if you aren’t blameless after all?
Brilliantly adapted from Lionel Shriver’s best-selling novel of the same name, We Need To Talk About Kevin features Tilda Swinton as the protagonist Eva, mother of the wicked offspring Kevin. Her performance is phenomenal (even for her incredible standards), perfectly conveying both Eva’s torments raising Kevin and her devastated psychology after the horror. Ezra Miller is also excellent as the sinister and frighteningly intelligent son and his muted yet palpable hostility towards Eva creates a terrifying tension that gradually builds up to a fierce climax.
Complemented by stunning cinematography and a perfect soundtrack by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood (also the composer for There Will Be Blood), this film’s instilment of genuine horror into suburban domesticity is a real tour de force.
We Need To Talk About Kevin | Directed by Lynne Ramsay (UK/USA 2011) with Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly. Opens August 16.
Originally published in the July/August 2012 issue of Exberliner