Dangerous little ones: 5 films about children and young psychopaths that will take your sleep away

There is evil, but there are no monsters. To say that a serial killer or psychopath is a monster breaks with the reality of a tragic situation. First, puts above the figure of the murderer than that of its victims by generating morbidity around the criminal (“he is the devil”).

And second, invalidates the disorders behind antisocial behavior and psychopathy, most often related to childhood trauma derived from violent events. And last but not least, the narrative around the crime is constantly being altered. without prevention in mind.

Jeffrey Dahmer. Photo: Marny Malin/Sygma via Getty Images

This is made very clear in the documentary. crazy not insane (HBO) where Dr. Dorothy Lewi, a forensic psychiatrist, determined that behind a serial killer, there was a dissociative identity disorder. In other words, a murderer should be treated like a sick person, not a monster.

Bearing this in mind, and regarding the boom in both documentary and fiction productions focused on the figures of psychopaths, Here we leave you a list of movies that show us children and young people with antisocial behavior. What is behind all this?

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Ed Gein as a child / Photo: Special

You can also read: Ed Gein: Who Was The Serial Killer That Inspired ‘Psycho’?

The childhood of a leader

In 2015, Brady Corbet at 28 years oldafter an acting career in which he worked with directors such as Michael Haneke, he rushed to Cannes to present his directorial debut entitled The childhood of a leaderbased on the play of the same name by Jean-Paul Sartre.

The film was acclaimed, and as time goes by, it becomes more interesting and intense with its premise: show us a specific stage of a future fascist leader. This is how we know Prescott, a 10-year-old boy whose father, an American diplomat, is part of Woodrow Wilson’s team to write the terms of the end of the First World War.

Robert Pattinson and Liam Cunningham in'The Childhood of a Leader'
Robert Pattinson and Liam Cunningham in ‘The Childhood of a Leader’ / Photo: IFC Films

Prescott’s mother is younger than his father, and always maintains a serious face that hardens as the boy is showing quite strange attitudes where he is increasingly cruel to all the people around him (except for a house helper who consents when forbidden to do so).

A teacher who is hired for Prescott to learn French, she confronts a boy who manipulates her with tender attitudes, but suddenly he touches her breasts without her permission. And soon, we see what it becomes. The childhood of a leader He also took the life of Benito Mussolini as a reference, and in the SNACK podcast we tell you more about it:

The Bad Seed

In 1954, William March published his novel The Bad Seed that had a theater adaptation that same year to later become a film that divided opinions on the subject: the protagonist is a psychopathic girl who seems to be responsible for the death of a classmate from her school.

Rhoda lives with both of her parents. She always wears a dress and two braids that gather her blonde hair. Her appearance is sweetbut in reality, she is quite a manipulative girl, and everyone, with the exception of her mother (a military man who is away from home), realizes this when Claude, a classmate and winner of a competition, is found dead in a lake.

Things get complicated when Claude’s medal appears in Rhoda’s room, revealing to her mother that it’s not the only thing she owns that doesn’t belong to her, and that she may have gotten other “gifts” in mysterious ways. The performances of Nancy Kelly as the mother and Patty McCormack as Rhoda are sensational.

We need to talk about Kevin

If you want a movie that is very terrifying without resorting to the more recognizable narrative elements of horror, then you should see Twe need to talk about kevin by Lynne Ramsaybased on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Lionel Shriver.

Both the literary work and the film present us with Eva Khatchadourian, who was once a successful travel writer and is now wife and mother of two children: Celie, a sweet little girl, and Kevin, a teenager who is in jail after carrying out a massacre in a school.

The film starts with Eva’s life after the tragedy. She lives in a dilapidated house, surrounded by a community that constantly violates her in response to loss. This is how she remembers her past life, from the night she conceived Kevin and the key episodes in his life.

Ezra Miller and Tilda Swinton in'We Need to Talk About Kevin'
Ezra Miller and Tilda Swinton in ‘We have to talk about Kevin’ / Photo: IMDB

Thus, as viewers, we discover that Kevin always had a complicated relationship with her: he never stopped crying, he refused to learn how to use the bathroom, he did not respond to signs of affection, and as a teenager, recognizes a pleasure in hurting others.

We need to talk about Kevin not only shows us the path of a psychopath, but also the obstacles of fatherhood and motherhood that although they are well-intentioned, they could face a terrible childhood in the most literal sense of the word.

You can also read: CuadroXCuadro: The relationship between ‘Psychosis’ and Hitchcock with the tragedy of Oedipus


Perhaps one of the quintessential films on antisocial behavior is clockwork orange by Stanley Kubrick where a group of droogs commit extremely violent attacks as part of a gang in London. Alex, their leader, a teenager who loves Beethoventakes them between fights, rapes and attacks on civilians.

However, we will not put that film on the list and instead integrate another film starring Malcolm McDowell entitled If…which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in the late 1960s under the direction of Lindsay Anderson by bringing back to a besieged school the violent hierarchies imposed by the students.

If… is set in a British military school where a group of older students, known as The Whip, are dedicated to terrorizing and controlling the lower grade students. Among them are three young men, led by Mick, who begin to devise a violent plan to end the authority: a massacre with firearms.

The Good Son

Remember those movies that played on Channel 4 (the city channel) in the 90’s? Sometimes there were great surprises like The fly by David Cronenberg and some other television movies that, although they were not good, at least they stuck with us.

And that’s the case with The Good Son either the evil angel starring Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood in 1993. Tape received very bad reviews at the time of its premiere… but here we are not to judge it, but to make a list of popular films that have evil children as protagonists. Y The Good Son is the case.

Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood in'The Good Son'
Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood in ‘The Good Son’ / Photo: 20th Century Fox

Here we meet Mark, a boy who has just lost his mother, and due to his father’s business trip, he must stay for a while at the house of his uncles and his cousin Henry. At first everything seems to be going well until Little by little, Mark discovers that Henry is an evil boy who likes to cause trouble, hurt animals and probably people too.

The movie goes nowhere, and it seems that the character of Henry is more of a child possessed by the mind of an adult than a child who has social and adjustment problems. But again, it serves the purpose of this list.

Dangerous little ones: 5 films about children and young psychopaths that will take your sleep away