Pumpkin Person rating: 9/10

So I was in the very small town of Casselman, Ontario, just East of Ottawa, the other day.  Commenter JS might like this town, as the people there all seem to prefer to speak in French, though they know how to speak English for business purposes.

I stopped at a gas station and I noticed the film We need to talk about Kevin on sale for only $5.  I first heard of the film when actress Tilda Swinton promoted it on Charlie Rose.  Since Rose’s show focuses on intellectual topics, I figured the film might have some depth.  Always looking for quality horror and dark dramas to add to my collection, I snatched it up.

The film is about the typical high IQ highly educated liberal career woman named Eva (played by Swinton), who like so many smart women, is not very maternal, going through the struggle of having a baby.

Except in this case the adjustment to motherhood is way harder because the baby is born pure evil.  From birth it seems like the baby’s only purpose is to make his mother’s life hell on Earth.  For the first few months of life, he does nothing but scream all day long.  Then he refuses to talk, causing Eva to have him checked for autism.  The East Asian doctor concludes he’s perfectly normal.

Eva soon discovers the child is feigning developmental delays as a way of torturing his mother.  He pretends he doesn’t know any numbers, but secretly seems to have a genius IQ and can count to the stratosphere.  He pretends he can’t use a toilet, just to force Eva to change his diaper, well past the toddler years.  He sprays paint all over a bedroom she spent days decorating.

Yet around his father, and everyone else, he acts like a perfect little angel, thus demonizing Eva as a bad mother who doesn’t love her own son.

Once he becomes a teenager, is evil only hardens, but not even Eva can imagine the utter horror he will release on the town where he lives.

The film really deserved an Oscar, either for the excellent performance of Swinton, as the woman who hates being a mother, or the performances of Ezra Miller, as the teenaged Kevin, or Rock Duer or Jasper Newell who plays Kevin as a child. Newell was an incredibly precocious actor, and I appreciate how much he looks like Duer, who plays him as a toddler, and Miller, who plays him as an adolescent, and how much all three boys look like Swinton who plays the mother.  Clearly a lot of care went into the casting and makes the film that much more believable.

Interestingly Miller is half Ashkenazi, half white, but he looks half East Asian, half white.  Newell and Duer look similar, though I don’t know what their true background is.  Such a high IQ ethnic look makes the character’s genius more believable, as you see a lot of these Eurasian looking kids in classes for the gifted.

Kevin’s high IQ is also revealed through his constant sarcasm (seems common in high IQ boys) and clever dialogue.  In a scene where his mother discovers his collection of computer viruses, and asks what’s the point, he smartly replies, as some of you do:

“There is no point.  That’s the point”

In a scene where Kevin overhears that his mother doesn’t want custody of him when she divorces his father, the father tries to placate Kevin by saying the discussion was heard out of context.

“How could I not know the context,” Kevin replies. “I AM the context.”

I recommend this film for sophisticated realistic horror fans, who like real character development, and artsy non-linear story telling.