Monday, October 15, 2018

Always Room For Growth

Let's get one thing straight: I will fight to the point of near death over the honor of 1956's The Bad Seed. It is brilliant, chilling, funny, smart, and simply the best.

Now let's slap that Lifetime Flowers In the Attic filter on a retelling and see what happens with Rob Lowe at the helm.

Quick Plot: Emma Grossman is a precocious 9-year-old whose current life goal is to win the citizenship medal in her exclusive private school (which for some Lifetime set availability reason, is set inside the kind of castle-esque manor best suited for wedding photos). When poor pubic speaker Milo wins instead, Emma's blue eyes narrow with the kind of ice cold fury that sends unsuspecting third graders to their deaths.

Widowed dad David (double duty puller Lowe) is a caring and concerned parent, but one also busy being the sole breadwinner with the (again) very Lifetime-ish profession of wildly successful furniture designer. He hires a carefree ex-snowboarder named Chloe as Emma's nanny, which briefly works out well since both sitter and charge are complete sociopaths.

That's right: if The Bad Seed didn't scream Lifetime to you at first glance, adding an eager-to-seduce pill-popping blond certainly helps. Not surprisingly, this is not the most subtle of remakes. While we don't get Rhoda Penmark's signature pigtails and tap shoes, we do get weaponized wasps' nests and poisoned hot chocolate, not to mention the rare "special appearance" credit that is ACTUALLY special because it's PATTY MCCORMACK AS A CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST.

This is the kind of film that follows the shot of a young woman being burned to death with a closeup of a fancy restaurant char broiling a fine steak. Subtlety rarely finds its way onto this network, and if anything, I wish Lowe pushed even higher over the top. Ultimately, we're left with a mild missed opportunity, but for all the woes we have about the time we're living in, the fact that we have a Bad Seed movie that includes Patty McCormack winking at the camera shows some positivity after all.

High Points
I've enjoyed screenwriter Barbara Marshall (Viral, Wish Upon)'s work immensely thus far, and while The Bad Seed does feel a tad Lifetime-limited, little touches, like Emma being a huge Shirley Temple fangirl, really show a special touch

Low Points
The Bad Seed is certainly not the first film to do this but it does give me an excuse to voice my hatred of water shots that insist on using liquid drops on the camera lens.I get what it's TRYING to do, but really, all it does for me is draw attention to the fact that what I'm watching is a product being filmed

Lessons Learned
Public speaking and spelling are not skills measured for citizenship

Some things never go out of style, be they class medals or little pink electric chairs

Always count your Xanax

The Bad Seed aired on Lifetime, so it's really only findable via your On Demand cable provider at this point in time. It never quite reaches the campy heights you (okay, I) want, but it's fun, disposable entertainment that hits most of the required notes. I certainly would have preferred a little more piano playing and pigtails, but my standards are obviously quite high. 


  1. I can't watch The Bad Seed without hearing The Fibonaccis' brilliant song Leroy.

  2. I will have to look to see if its still available. I totally meant to watch it when it was playing recently and I missed it. I love Rob Lowe!

    1. It will show up on the Lifetime Movie Network at some point. Sometimes these movies end up on Amazon Prime also, but it seems like the higher profile films (like the Flowers In the Attic series) stay protected in the Lifetime vault.