We Need to Talk About Kevin
Starring Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller; directed by Lynn Ramsay
Starring Michael Fuith, David Rauchenberger; directed by Markus Schleinzer
If I were to describe these films, there’s a good chance that you are not likely to go see them. And that’s too bad, as they have a lot going for them as thought-provoking looks at human behaviors and fears from which we would just as soon turn away.
They both involve “raising” boys and the adults who interact with them, depict violence and abuse, focus on guilt and evil, are set in suburban surroundings, and display a surficial sheen of normalcy in the midst of extremely uncomfortable themes (pedophilia and kids who murder). They are essentially nightmares in broad daylight.
Michael is about a normal, average, plain, unassuming guy who also happens to be a pedophile living in an average neighborhood and treats his 10-year-old victim like a son — albeit a son whom he keeps locked in a soundproof room in his basement. We Need to Talk About Kevin is about a woman who clearly became a reluctant mother who would rather be a free spirit traveling the globe than tied to a mundane, suburban existence with a small boy who is clearly a handful — to say the least.
But none of this will get you into the theater. To do that, maybe it would help to employ a technique that is used to lure kids into theaters while also engaging them in our consumerist culture: the product tie-in. But, since these are adult films, instead of little toys in “happy meals,” or drinking glasses painted with cartoon charters, or figurines of superheroes, how about these products that could tie-in to these films?
The We Need to Talk About Kevin Product Line
The Kevin Bow and Arrow Set: Be the first on your block to own a high-performance, high-tech bow and arrow set that is featured in the movie, We Need to Talk About Kevin. Its authenticity is guaranteed as the type used by Kevin to hone his marksman skills. Come in to any Shooting Sports Store and purchase any arrow target, complete with extra red-ringed target sheets, and receive this set. You will be amazed at how it’s vastly more accurate and sophisticated than the bow and arrows you remember from your days at summer camp. This set comes complete with a hand glove just like the professionals use. This is a limited time offer, so go see We Need to Talk About Kevin, bring your movie ticket stub or online ticket receipt and you can be aiming for fun and pesky rodents in no time. Shooting Sports Stores are not responsible for any injuries or deaths from inappropriate use; please read all warnings and use safety precautions. Giving this set to seriously disturbed young boys who felt they were unwanted by their mothers and then use it to commit acts of atrocity at school or at home will result in the termination of all warranties and the company and store where purchased will not be liable for any consequences.
The Kevin Travel Package: In connection with the film, We Need to Talk About Kevin, the Worldwide Travel Agency is offering a special travel package. When you purchase a roundtrip ticket to Paris or India, you will receive a travel case and guidebook. This offer should be especially attractive to mothers who feel trapped in a rut and long for a chance to escape from tedious housework chores and a demanding family. If you’ve ever dreamed of enjoying a glass of wine and a croissant at a cafe along the streets of Paris, or being carried away by the writhing, shimmering bodies slathered in tomatoes at the Bangalore Tomatina Festival, then don’t miss this limited time offer. This guidebook provides info on unique sights and events around the world. Worldwide Travel is not responsible for any lingering depression or anxiety that may ensue when you return to your work-a-day world with the obligations of childcare and domestic living entails. Any frustrations that a traveler experiences when returning to such harsh realities are their own — especially if these frustrations are taken out on unruly and difficult children who may think they have been abandoned, unwanted or unloved by their returning mothers from these trips. Some restrictions apply and blackout periods may be encountered.
The Kevin Red Paint: For a limited time, when you purchase five gallons of regular latex paint, you will receive a free gallon of blood-red acrylic paint from the Paint Store. This promotion is tied to the release of the film, We Need to Talk About Kevin, the latest release that is sure to paint any viewer tickled pink! This paint goes on smoothly in one coat. It’s ideal when splattered over the house of someone you wish to intimidate, such as a mother of a son who embarks on a murderous rampage at his high school using a bow and arrow. This mother will think twice about staying in the neighborhood when she wakes to see the bright, cherry-red sheen of this paint streaked on her front door, splattered on her windows and swathed on the side of her humble abode. She will be seeing this red pigment everywhere she goes (in the store, at work, etc.) to remind her of the horror that her son has committed.
The Kevin Baby Stroller: Come in to the Baby Store and purchase a box of 50 diapers and get this happy little stroller as our gift. It is designed especially for the young baby boy who has just come into your life. It has extra padding for when you push it near a construction site so that the noise of the jackhammers, clanging steel and generators help drown out the incessant crying of your new bundle of joy. The wheels are designed to help you push your male child away from you as you struggle to manage his outbursts of rage, inability to communicate, and otherwise express displeasure at your efforts to discipline and raise him. You will just adore the cute little animal decals that adorn the carriage — decals that you will later come to detest as you associate such vicious acting-out by your precious child. The Baby Store is not responsible for any injuries that may be cased to you or your child from using the stroller as directed. Any attempt by you to shove your child against the wall and break his arm after he may deface the stroller or otherwise damage any of your things will result in serious consequences to you, your family and your neighbors after he grows up and becomes a vicious killer. The first 100 people to take advantage of this offer will also receive a special potty-trainer for those especially difficult boys who refuse to use the toilet long after they should have been trained. This trainer is specially designed to humiliate the child for his disobedience and failure to mature into a healthy adolescent. He may resent you for this, but you will enjoy not having to change diapers for years after you should be enjoying the freedom that comes from a child taking care of his own bodily functions.
The Michael Product Line
The Michael Hotplate: When you come into the Home Store and purchase a set of plates, you will get a free hotplate like the one shown in the film Michael. This hotplate will be a useful addition to any room in your house when you need to cook ramen noodles or soup but you cannot get to the kitchen stove, such as when being locked in a room in the basement. This hotplate can keep you fed even when you are trapped all day and even when an adult gets into an accident and you are left to fend for yourself for days. It has a variable temperature control, and can even get water into a raging boil that you can then hurl into the face of any evil abuser. But be forewarned: the makers of this hotplate cannot be responsible for any harm that might come to you for flinging this boiling water as it may not be completely effective in helping you escape the clutches of a monster who may be sexually abusing you. Be sure to carefully aim the contents of the hotplate’s container to achieve the desired effect, and be sure to run away from your target as fast as you can.
The Michael Bunk Bed Set: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to land this bunk bed kit, just like the one depicted in Michael. Your special boy will love the prospect of struggling with a similarly-aged male companion over who should get the top or bottom bunk. Being alone with a sexually abusive parent is tough, so this bunk bed will help manage the time alone and help share the burden of the adult monster’s advances. The bed comes equipped with full instructions so that you and your evil abuser can assemble it together and look forward to sharing it. Please make sure that the bed is assembled properly or it may not be useable by any potential roommate. If that roommate cannot be enticed to share this room and bed, it may have to be disassembled. If so, please return it and we will be happy that no other boy ever fell into the clutches of such a despicable adult. Mattress and bedspread not included.
The Michael Insurance Package: Nobody likes to think of insurance, but if you come in while Michael is showing in theaters, you will get a special policy when you also buy auto insurance. This policy will protect you from the disturbing themes and depictions of pedophilia by an average guy. It’s important that you read the fine print as those, such as the abuser in Michael, who work in the insurance industry are not eligible for this special insurance offer. Any claims under the Michael policy will be granted for those who become especially disturbed when watching film’s depiction of a such disturbing behavior — such as how sexual abusers and their young victims quaintly go about everyday domestic activities, like cooking meals together, washing the dishes and even caring for the young boy when he gets sick.
The Michael Home Security System: When you buy a home external video surveillance camera from the Home Lock Down Store, you will receive a special commemorative home security package. It comes complete with electronic metal blinds that cover your windows so that nosy neighbors cannot see what nefarious things you may be doing in your home. With the push of a button, these shades will unroll and block out all views from every window. The package also includes enough soundproof padding to cover any room so that no one can hear anyone who may be incarcerated against his will and abused. When you purchase this package, you will be asked to sign a waiver that you are not using it for any illegal or immoral purposes. If it is used as such, we are not responsible for any harm that may come from such use. You will also be required to sign a release so that any other members of your family may have access to your house should anything happen to you and there is a need to breach this security. We hope you appreciate the value of this package and the security in knowing that any valuables inside your house will get the care and treatment they deserve when you have passed on.
Doug Young is The Statesman’s award-winning film critic. He currently works in the Hickenlooper administration as an environmental policy advisor.