When Rob Lowe isn’t chasing down proof of the paranormal, he’s an actor. And now, thanks to Lifetime, he’s an actor/director making his helming debut with a sure-to-be must-see remake of The Bad Seed.
Based on the William March 1954 novel, The Bad Seed centers on eight-year-old Rhoda Penmark, who seems to be a picture-perfect and obedient little girl. But when a classmate turns up dead, her mother must face the harrowing possibility that her adorable child is a cold-blooded killer.
Over the years, March’s tale of angel-faced evil has been adapted for stage and screen. Most memorable was Mervyn LeRoy’s’s 1956 film, which starred the celebrated Broadway cast of Patty McCormack, Nancy Kelly, and Eileen Heckart. Though its violence is largely offscreen, this horror classic terrified audiences by playing to their imagination and their greatest fears. Be warned: if you’ve never seen this, have tissues handy. Amid all its terror, Heckart’s big scene—in which her grieving mother goes off on a drunken, pained tirade—will reduce viewers to a puddle of tears.
From the look of Lowe’s version, poor Mrs. Penmark won’t have to bear the brunt of confronting her killer kid alone. Lowe cast himself in a plum role as Rhoda’s proud pop, which you can see in The Bad Seed’s first trailer.
Look. This can’t compare to the first adaptation. In 1956, the very concept of a killer kid was so disturbing that the studio decided to soothe audiences with a bizarre finale. They changed the book’s bleak climax in favor of a “happy ending”, and also offered a curtain call to break the suspension of disbelief. Then for good measure, Mrs. Penmark playfully spanks her murderous daughter to the supposed delight of the audience.
Nothing Lowe can do on Lifetime will be able to shock and awe us that way. But that’s okay. We already have LeRoy’s black-and-white horror classic. Now, let’s see what Lowe and Lifetime aspire to bring with their modern twist. I’m betting on camp, intentional or not. And I’m not mad about it.
The Bad Seed premieres on Lifetime on Sunday, September 9, at 8 PM ET.
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