We Need to Talk About Kevin (Ramsay, 2011)

We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)

This is a horror movie, plain and simple. When I heard Lynne Ramsay was doing a film about a school killing, I figured we were about to have the first well-done and truthful film on the subject, so when it didn’t turn out to be so, I couldn’t help but be a little bit disappointed. Then when Ramsay does attempt to apply a little humanism to the situation, it feels awkwardly misplaced. In two instances the disturbed boy, Kevin, finds himself unable to control a situation, and in both he’s vulnerable and needy. Are we are supposed to believe these are the only two times in Kevin’s life where he isn’t controlling the situation? Or are these the only two times he reacts with vulnerability? It’s almost as if Ramsay didn’t know how to completely abandon humanism, and these two scenes are stuck as a improper inclusions. And, unfortunately, one of these situations is the film’s final scene. Ramsay wanted it to leave a punch, but it fell flat.

Putting this aside though, and after I accepted this as another movie of mixed genres (how many of these have there been in 2011?), it was quite interesting – a horror movie given the tender treatment in technical style of an art film. The way the story is told in multiple swiftly-edited timelines, the beauty of the soft yet interjected voiceovers, and the harsh handheld cinematography throw us into a frenzy of mixed events mirroring the whirlwind of old and new confusion and anxiety experienced by our protagonist (played beautifully by Tilda Swinton). It becomes exhausting even for the viewer and completely frightening, which is why in the end, this does work as an untraditional horror film.  8/10


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