Welcome to our countdown to the most anxiety-inducing horror films for parents!  Today is day twenty three!

Each day, we are covering the films I both love and hate because they’re awesome and they give me panic attacks now that I’m a mom.

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Film #9 considers the question; What if your own child turned against you no matter how much you loved them, how much compassion you showed to them, no matter how much empathy you tried to teach?  What if your baby really isn’t your baby, possibly not even human?  

Disclaimer: Trigger warnings are a given when you talk about horror, but I’m going to say it anyway.  Many subjects covered by horror films are disturbing to parents in ways we can’t possibly understand and each is unique to the parent and his/her experiences. Tread carefully and know your limits.  If this begins to be too much, there’s no shame in closing the window.  Also, this post contains some spoilers throughout. 

9. Village of the Damned

VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, Thomas Dekker (extreme left), 1995, (c) Universal

Not *quite* horror and technically a sci-fi, Village of the Damned still packs a parenting anxiety punch.

When every woman of childbearing age is suddenly pregnant after a city-wide black out where everyone passed out for six hours, the government steps in to offer assistance.

“It’s an anomaly”, they say… “we want to help”, they say… So, they offer to pay for the pregnancy if the mothers make the choice to keep the babies, and also offer to perform voluntary terminations of pregnancy if they would rather not.  Oh, and you will also get $3000 for keeping your baby in exchange for allowing us to do continuous testing and analysis of your babies.

And NO one thought this was weird??

After each mother experiences a euphoric dream in which they develop a profound connection to their babies, each one opts to keep their children.

Born on the same night, at the same time, in the same room, each baby is brought into the world and into the loving arms of parents who are accepting of whatever their future holds, because… babies.  They each have white hair, fair skin and blue eyes that glow green, orange and red when they are mind-controlling people or are angry.

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As they grow, strange things begin to happen to the people in town.  The children have accelerated learning, accelerated growth, and special abilities.  They have paired themselves off, all except one boy who is without a mate – it died in childbirth.  He is at the end of the line, separate and alone and always behind the others.

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So, to sum up; The kids admit they are superior to humans and they are only killing to ensure their survival.  That in each time they have attempted to integrate into our world before, they were all killed, so they are taking no chances this time, hence the advanced cruelty and no second chances consequences. They kill to live, not to be cruel, cruelty would require emotion.

They have no concept of empathy or compassion.  They claim to be superior to humans in every way and believe empathy is a weakness of our species.  This makes it clear of course, that they are not human at all, but they never actually SAY it. The father of the child who has become their “leader” is able to block his thoughts from the children long enough to plant a bomb in their room, ultimately blowing them all sky high.  The child whose mate had been lost at birth, developed empathy because he understands loss.  His mother senses this difference in him from the others and saves him just before the bomb goes off, killing the other children of his kind.  

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The end of the film shows mother and child driving away from town.  The mother vows to take him somewhere to start over, somewhere far away so no one knows who they are.  He just stares out the window blankly as the credits roll…

This story isn’t horrifying in the ghost or demon sense, the children are not constantly in peril, disease issue isn’t present here as we have seen before, and it isn’t really even scary in the alien abduction sense. At least not to me (I know a few people who completely freak out at the very idea).  No, it’s not even the fact that these children can read minds or can control and kill them with a thought.

The issue with this movie is that a loving home and caring parents who would do anything for their babies may still not be enough to raise a good person.  It’s like the extreme example of how nurture never pulls as much weight as nature.

You can do your best to show your babies compassion, to model respect, empathy and give them all the love in the world.  You can try to read as much as you can, to teach all you can and they may still end up crazy murdering psychopaths with no emotion.  Mothers of children who grow up with such disorders as psychopathy or sociopathic personality disorder often feel THEY are responsible.  If only they had loved more, eaten better during pregnancy, maybe they didn’t quit smoking fast enough, maybe they shouldn’t have taken that anti-depressant wile pregnant… the “what if’s” go on and on forever and a mother can make herself crazy thinking about all the ways she might have been able to prevent it her child’s behavior problems and sometimes she’s right – but most of the time, these situations have nothing to do with the mother’s influence upon her growing baby in the womb.

Most of the time.  And that small window of “possibly your fault” can make a mother crazy, drive them to depression, suicide, afraid to have more babies for fear they will be the same or worse.  Every mother worries that their child will end up being the bully, the one who doesn’t care about their friends.  Sure, it might not be because of alien impregnation, but it is a legit fear.

Also, most moms I know (including me) have had vivid pregnancy dreams about giving birth to aliens. One dream I had, involved a Cthulhu-type creature trying to birth its way out my belly button while I ran away from a government facility in the desert.  I vowed to take care of him no matter what and tried to get somewhere safe away from the creepy, silent Area 51 helicopters to give birth.  I knew a mom who dreamed, many times, about giving birth to a baby that looked like “the greys”; big eyes, big head, tiny body, etc..

A movie like these gives insane pregnancy fears just enough reinforcement to make any mother wonder when her child seems just a little too apathetic, a little too disconnected.  When your child insists on always playing the bad guy, when he insists upon killing his toys instead of playing nicely with them, when every toy he has including blocks and marbles, become soldiers in a great war, when he tells you he has a legion of himself in an invisible spaceship that hovers over his head at all times, who watch over him and protect him and are waiting for their orders to fight against the bad guys, it makes you wonder what is really behind those eyes.  Is it all just imagination?  Of course it is…

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