I put this post in a different font so that it sticks out to the casual scroller and is easily recognisable as not being a review...
Films target kids to push limits of violence
Whether it's for art or shock value, a recent spate of films has been rubbing out children, prompting an outcry among some parents and critics.
(Warning: The examples cited may be spoilers for those who haven't see the films.)
•A child's hanging begins Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
•In Hostel: Part II, a killer orders a child to pick one of his playmates to die, then executes that boy.•In Grindhouse, a boy played by director Robert Rodriguez's son Rebel shoots himself (off camera).
•Last year's Pan's Labyrinth ends with the shooting of the heroine, a young girl.
The carnage even has studio executives wondering whether filmmakers are straining boundaries to shock audiences.
"It certainly seems like the envelope is getting pushed further and further," says Steve Rothenberg, president of domestic distribution for Lionsgate Films, which released the sequel to Hostel. "Whether that's a good thing or not, I don't know."
Others are less equivocal.
"What's next, killing infants?" asks Nell Minow, aka Movie Mom, a film critic and columnist for Yahoo!
Minow says in some instances, such as Labyrinth, "you can reluctantly excuse it for the story. But many of these others are just for cheap thrills, to push audiences who have been numbed by all the violence they're seeing."
Not that killing kids is unheard of in Hollywood. Frankenstein's monster accidentally killed a girl in the 1931 classic. Anakin Skywalker mowed down young Jedis in 2005's Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
But in Frankenstein, villagers hunted down the monster for the death. And Anakin's rampage was the final straw in his becoming the most reviled guy in the universe.
This year, "it seems like we're getting it more for shock value," says Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com. "You have to wonder how long people will take it. It's easy for people to say they aren't going to see a movie."
Filmmakers say it's not all about pushing the limits of taste. At the time of Grindhouse's release, Rodriguez told USA TODAY he was aiming for true terror.
"I wrote it thinking, 'What would be the scariest thing that could happen to me?' And I thought, 'My God, me losing my child.' "
But where does it end?
"It's gotten pretty dull seeing a 25-year-old get killed," Pandya says. "Maybe the senior citizens are next."