We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay’s critically acclaimed indie drama, expands into a (somewhat) wider release this weekend, and if you live in one of those ever-elusive “select cities,” it’s worth checking out; it’s a tough, frightening picture that gets into your head, and it features not only the by-now-expected brilliant (if overlooked by the Academy) performance by Tilda Swinton, but a bravura turn by Ezra Miller as the title character. He plays Swinton’s son, a teen boy with, um, some problems. We’ll leave at that, in case you haven’t yet had the exact nature of his wickedness spoiled for you yet; suffice it to say, he’s a bad kid, which got us wondering how he’d stack up in the rich history of evil cinematic teenagers (and pre-teens). After the jump, we’ll take a look (with some spoilers of years-old movies, so consider yourself warned).
Johnny Lawrence, The Karate Kid IN A NUTSHELL: Blonde, blue-eyed bully. CRIMES: Irredeemable smugness; beating the hell out of new students at every opportunity; willingness to “sweep the leg.” EVIL RATING: 3. Sure, Johnny makes poor Daniel LaRusso’s life a living hell, but he seems to derive much of his evil strength from his Cobra Kai duds and the influence of Kreese. Real evil teens are made of stronger stuff than this.
Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince IN A NUTSHELL: Blonde, blue-eyed wizard bully. CRIMES: Attempting to kill Dumbledore; breaking Harry Potter’s nose and leaving him on a train; attempting to cast the Cruciatus Curse; mending the portal to let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts. EVIL RATING: 4. Note, if you will, there’s a lot of “attempting” in that list of crimes. Malfoy is a snarky little shit, and his intentions are certainly foul, but he seldom has the stones to go through with his dirty deeds. A true evil teen gets the job done.
Anton Tobias, Idle Hands IN A NUTSHELL: Serial killer… with a possessed hand. CRIMES: Cat-tossing; killing his parents, best friends, principal, cops, and various other bystanders. EVIL RATING: 5. Sure, Anton racks up quite the body count — but his crimes are all committed by a hand that is possessed, many of them after it has been severed from his body. That’s an evil hand, sure, but not a truly evil teen.
Mark Evans, The Good Son IN A NUTSHELL: Precocious… and psychotic. CRIMES: Causing a multi-car highway pile-up, killing a dog, trying to kill his sister and mother, probably killing his brother. EVIL RATING: 7. Make no mistake: this is one bad kid, bloodthirsty and nasty—though, in all fairness, most of his wrath is directed at his own family. We’re not excusing his behavior… but maybe we understand. Just a little.
J.D., Heathers IN A NUTSHELL: The trigger-happy, blood-thirsty new kid in school. CRIMES: Murdering two jocks and making it look like a suicide pact; planning a school bombing; doing a constant Jack Nicholson impression. EVIL RATING: 8. J.D. is bad news, as the handsome, charismatic dreamy guys always are. Better to stick with the pudgy nerds, ladies.
Billy Loomis and Stu Macher, Scream IN A NUTSHELL: Just your average pop culture-savvy serial killers. CRIMES: Knocking off their principal and several classmates; in Billy’s case, planning to frame his girlfriend for the killings (on the night he takes her virginity, even); in Stu’s case, unforgivable obnoxiousness. EVIL RATING: 9. I mean, that scary voice they use is a 5 on its own.
Reagan, The Exorcist
IN A NUTSHELL: Cute kid! Too bad she’s possessed by the devil. CRIMES: Killing priests; assaulting a psychiatrist; committing horrible acts with a crucifix; a very dirty mouth. EVIL RATING: 10. When it comes right down to it, you really can’t get more evil than if you’re possessed by the devil. Unless…
Damien, Damien: Omen II IN A NUTSHELL: The Antichrist, no bigs. CRIMES: Killing, via outside forces apparently at his beck and call, anyone who begins to suspect that, hey, that scary kid might be the devil. EVIL RATING: 10. Come on, he’s the Antichrist.