Yet, the most depressing and horrifying thing about these sorts of films is, alas, not the explicit gore. It is the fact that at nearly every screening of a gruesome horror film I attend (from Massachusetts to Texas), I see parents in the audience with young children. That strikes me as a serious form of child abuse and a more convincing sign of the impending apocalypse than anything depicted on the screen.
Baker writes about seeing small children at Blade 2. A commenter at the Rock, Paper, Dynamite blog mentions a 4-year-old at Dawn of the Dead. I myself was distracted by a toddler during Freddy vs. Jason. What is wrong with these parents?
I’m generally pretty easygoing about leaving people to raise their own children, but in this case theaters are doing a disservice to their other customers by admitting these tykes: It’s hard to enjoy a movie when you wonder at every scene, what is this kid going to see next? Maybe the MPAA needs to introduce an absolutely-no-one-under-ten rating, a sort of junior NC-17. Heck, if a theater chain unilaterally introduced a no-kids-at-horror-flicks policy, I’d be more likely to patronize it.