I’m in shock from what I have just seen. This is not an exaggeration. My hands are shaking as I attempt to type. I feel numb and nauseated. It was utterly horrific.
I never would have tuned in to see this, but I started watching because it came on right after American History X, one of my favourite films. Although American History X tells a terrible story and ends badly for the protagonists, we’re at least left with an ambiguous ending. I prefer to think that there’s glimmer of hope: bad people can change.
Kids, however, is cruel and punishing to watch. It starts off with a morbidly intriguing premise. A young male teenage punk has sex with as many virgins as he can. Throughout the film we follow both the punk, and one of his former conquests that he tossed aside as she learns of and attempts to deal with the consequences. Most of the characters are thoroughly unsavoury; the female protagonist, played by Chloë Sevigny, stands out from them all. She’s cute, clean and well-spoken; in other words she is a stereotypical middle-class teenage girl.
As the movie progresses, things just keep getting worse and worse. The disgusting absence of morality of the teenage punk and his associates is revealed and bludgeoned into the viewer’s brain with actions and dialogue that are increasingly offensive throughout. The separate path of the girl is similar in that it gets more and more depressing. When we finally get to the climax, the viewer is teased into thinking something good might come of these terrible things that have lead to this point. And then, horiffically, it gets inconceivably and despicably worse than I possibly could have imagined. My mind was silently shouting “NO!” and “STOP!” I held out hope right until the end that it wouldn’t end the way it did, that something else would happen. And then the credits roll.
I’ve been thinking about whether this was a good movie or not. The direction wasn’t particularly interesting, but it was told in a way to hook the viewer early on. If their point was to tell a depressing story that becomes tragic, and then becomes something worse than tragic, they succeeded. This movie had a profound physical impact on me. Terrible things happened onscreen, and I, the viewer, feel sick just from watching it. I don’t believe I have been traumatized like this by a movie before. Even though I’d like to think the story is fiction, it’s disturbing and depressing because the characters are representative of real people. Why did someone choose to tell this story? What did they hope to accomplish? I don’t know.
I’ve had difficulty writing this post, not just because of the what has been permanently seared into my brain, but because all of the strongest words I can think of have been abused by the media to the point where they’ve lost their impact. I’m at a loss to describe it. My fierce recommendation: Avoid at all costs.
I expect I won’t sleep much tonight.
A successful piece of art evokes emotion – pleasant or otherwise.