"Oh The Horror!" with Hesta Prynn - Installment 2 "Who Can Kill a Child?"
Thu, 30 Dec 2010 16:03:21
Oh The Horror! is the place for me, Hesta Prynn, the professional musician, to write not about music, but about the other dope things I'm into—video games, art, life on the road—and particularly my love for the horror genre. I can write 200 words on Krautrock for an indie music mag, but it won’t get me into ComicCon and I suspect this column might. Guys write music to meet girls. Girls write columns, it would seem, to meet dorks.
Some of the common descriptions of the characteristics in the behavior of sociopaths are: glibness and superficial charm, manipulative and conning acts, grandiose sense of self, pathological lying, shallow emotions, and lack of remorse, shame or guilt. Maybe you know someone like this, or maybe it's funny to say you've got a relative like this. But there exists an entire group of people that fit this profile perfectly and they are everywhere—children.
As a touring musician I travel far and often, but the worst week of the year to travel by far is Christmas week. Screaming children disappear from their desks and reappear on flights from New York to West Palm Beach. I've been down here visiting my parents at their half-of-the-year winter house along with my brother, his wife and their two daughters ages three and one.
While down here I re-watched a truly phenomenal Spanish film from 1976 called "Who Can Kill a Child?" The movie focuses on an English couple on vacation. They travel to an island that seems to be populated entirely by aloof, uncommunicative children who behave strangely. As the film unfolds the couple learns that the island’s children are violent and have slaughtered nearly every adult on the island.
When the children finally attack the couple they are unable to defend themselves because literally who can kill a child? This particular film raises questions about the effects of war and other atrocities in which children suffer at the hands of adults, be it their violence or indifference. The film actually begins with an excellent montage of footage from global incidents (the Holocaust, war in Thailand, Cambodia, etc) and a death toll of how many children were killed in each. Who Can Kill a Child? hints at redemption in a way I haven’t seen before.
As horror fans we have been shown the "demonic child" theme in movies from The Exorcist to The Orphan for decades. Why do we see this again and again? What makes it so scary and so compelling? I love my nieces to death (no pun intended) but after spending a full week with them I have learned that even the most well behaved children still aren't too far from that sociopathic profile. Are there any emotions more shallow than those felt by a three-year-old during a temper tantrum? Does promising through tears that you'll go to bed without crying if you're allowed to stay up until your hair has fully dried and then becoming hysterical when your hair is dry and you're expected to live up to your word qualify as pathological lying? Biting your one-year-old sister, screaming at the top of your lungs at 6:30am in a house of sleeping people, refusing to put your jacket on when everyone is waiting to go to a restaurant – are these not all displays of a grandiose sense of self?
When a child acts this way she is being a child, when an adult acts this way its pathology. Children are not truly capable of empathizing with others yet, and of course we understand this, forgive them for it and love them unconditionally. But sometimes the unpredictability of how a child will act… it’s kinda scary, no?
Great imaginations have taken that fear, that uncomfortable feeling we get when your niece cuts off all of Cinderella's hair and turned them into great horror films. When children run the show things are off balance. When a child's volatility is coupled with blunt instruments and blades as in Who Can Kill a Child? madness will occur on any given day. Is this is more or less severe than how adults act in times of war? This is the question the film raises.
Who Can Kill a Child? is being remade into a film called In The Playground with Diego Luna in the new year, but it's worth hunting down and seeing in it's original form beforehand. In the spirit of what's old being new again I want to offer readers of the column a download of the Hesta Prynn vs Blondie mash-up of "You Winding Me Up/Heart of Glass" from my new 7" for free. Happy New Year everyone. Lots of amazing horror coming in 2011!
Check out Hesta Prynn's Top Ten of 2010 here!
Here's the first installment of Oh The Horror! with Hesta Prynn here!