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18 Aug 2010

Author Feature: Child Actors, Horror Films and Age Ratings

Since the movie age rating system was introduced, I have seen one major loophole. Take the recent remake of the classic horror film The Omen, released in 2006. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, who played Damien, was aged just ­­­­­8, with the film itself being rated R. Now, he would have been subject to the same level of violence as anybody who would go to see the film at cinemas.

Firstly, I know exactly what you are going to say to that: “But they can see the film being made. They know it’s fake,” and yes, I would have to agree with you. After all, when a child is on the set of a horror film, then they can see the fake blood being made. They can also see how the actors come out of it alive after their gruelling on screen “death” scene.  Other actors may even make a game of it for them (I can imagine Nick Cage doing this on the set of Kick-Ass). But now you are missing my point entirely. My point isn’t that the child will be scared or show any similar reaction due to the sight of an on-screen death. But rather, it is the sense of being there, in the action. You can’t deny that a child being surrounded by screaming people, covered in fake blood and (on the odd occasion) thunder hitting the background cannot leave some mental effect. I mean, take the aforementioned The Omen. ­Damien is the reason for many, if not all, of the deaths. In one scene, he even witnesses a woman jumping off a building with a noose tied around her neck.  Now this is bound to leave some mental images. Heck, I know it would for me. I even got scarred as a 10-year-old from an obviously fake mechanical dummy in an electric chair that asked you to “Pay a dollar to make him holla”. And yes, he convulsed and drooped as if dead at the end. I could tell that that was fake, but with modern filming techniques, a younger child may have a harder time. And that damn dummy still haunts me...

Another film that instantly springs to mind whilst on this topic is the upcoming Paranormal Activity 2. The trailer can be found here. If you haven’t seen the first one or the trailer for the second, then I wholeheartedly recommend that you do. The first was amazing. Anyway, the trailer for the second features a baby. Given the premise for the original, bringing in a baby, in my opinion, oversteps the mark. A ten-year-old would have been fine, as they could have at least acknowledged [*warning, some small spoilers*] the fishing wire that moves the door, or the guy that cracks the picture frame out of shot [*end of spoilers*]. A baby on the other hand, maybe not. And then there is the constant screaming, surely that wouldn’t help.

Yet, when it comes down to it, these child actors are needed. I mean, Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass would not have been the same if she was acted out by Megan Fox. In the end, child actors need to be in the film for it to work. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I mean, let’s be honest, which is creepier: a serial killer, or a killer child?

1 comment:

  1. I doubt they acted out the whole noose thing in front of him. Those things can easily be filmed seperately. In fact, most of the violence in the Omen was filmed with the kid out of the room.

    A killer child.