6 Movies That Make You Never, Ever Want to Have Children
The hot back-to-school ticket at the theaters right now is The Possession, which is based on the true(esque) tale of the Dybbuk box, the supposedly haunted wine cabinet that became the first ghost story of the Internet age. (It began in 2001, and the actual Dybbuk box has been sold several times on eBay.) According to legend, the cabinet contained a dybbuk, a ghost of Jewish folklore, that haunted a series of owners, each of whom unloaded the cabinet on the next unsuspecting owner until its final owner had a rabbi seal it back up and hide it away for good. Those owners complained of physical ailments—hair falling out, hives—but the dybbuk box of The Possession details a far more ominous consequence: demonic possession of a little girl.
The little girl is terrifying even in the trailer—you saw those fingers coming up through her throat past her tonsils?!—and her presence clearly completely terrorizes her parents (played by Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who may or may not end up victims of the dybbuk. But The Possession is just one story in a long history of Hollywood films in every genre that portray children not as reasons to rejoice and glue for your marriage, but as catalysts for trouble and reasons to run for your lives. The moral is not that Hollywood enjoys torturing child actors, it's that no matter who you are, no matter how well you nurture, there's no interfering with nature, and sometimes you end up with the wrong side of the coin flip. So many films portray little ones behaving badly, whether they're murdering, stealing, lying, or just being ill-mannered, because they portend what will becomes of us as adults, and illuminate certain truths about the worst of humanity. We fear these silver-screen children because we know that one day, they'll come of age.
Here are a few films, from horror to romance, that will inadvertently convince you to never, ever have children—if only because their little fingers can so handily open Pandora's Box.
1. The Orphan. This film was roundly attacked by adoption rights groups for its horrific portrayal of an adopted child, and frankly we can't blame said groups—anyone even remotely on the fence about adopting a child might be convinced otherwise after seeing this film's homicidal antagonist. That said, it's a horror buff's dream, with a plot that unfolds like a modern-day update of The Bad Seed, with a twist. The Bad Seed, of course, was the original of these types of films—kids who, for one genetic predisposition or another, are prone to murder if they don't get what they want. Obviously this is pretty far-fetched, but at the same time, if you've got doubts about having children... wouldn't you want to weigh every single possibility? Honorable mention in this category goes out to The Omen. Parents, be sure to regularly check your kid's head for lice, and the mark of the devil.
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Could this creepy classic be considered a horror as well? Both the original (with Gene Wilder) and the remake (with Johnny Depp) portray kids at their absolute worst, cherry-picking from the deadly sins, with a slew of little snotnoses acting bratty until they're finally murked out by their own avarice (or greed, or sloth). The moral of the story is that the Charlie of the title is a humble, sweet boy who ends up triumphant by the grace of his own manners, and that bad parents lead to bad kids. But by the time all of the bad kids are gone, you might be convinced that even the angelic nature of Charlie will flip to the dark side once he gets a taste of the river of chocolate (that is, presuming you haven't read the Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator). Even worse than the kids, though, is Willy Wonka, a man who seems to have no moral compass, keeping Oompa Loompas in some kind of work-study sweatshop situation and letting all the dastardly kids croak because they don't follow his rules. In the remake, Depp channels Michael Jackson to create a Wonka that's nothing more than a stunted child, one of the disturbed kids as a grown-up and a stand-in for the son you might have if you decide to procreate.