She's not kidding...
There’s no way seemingly angelic eight-year-old Rhoda has been killing people. First, she doesn’t look crazy; second, we’re in the middle of the 1950s and we’re certainly not going to see a child murder someone on screen... are we? The film is based upon a 1954 play, which in turn generated a novel; The Bad Seed. This film is, as a result, slow and dialogue-driven.
This is a lengthy, melodramatic movie, so brace yourself. The Bad Seed is metaphorically hi-jacked by adult characters we couldn’t care less about. Rhoda, the little girl, is played by Patty McCormack who is particularly good for a child actress. Her character's fun, frantic and manipulative. Unfortunately, this story only speculates about her mental state for most of the running time.
Although the premise is interesting and the screenplay substantial, this movie fails to get us what we signed up for early enough. The Bad Seed is, first and foremost, a commentary on parenthood. It’s not about a pig-tailed child wielding a kitchen knife. When all is said and done, though, The Bad Seed turns out to be one of the best psychological thrillers of its decade.