Actress Tilda Swinton (who will forevermore be the White Witch from THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA to me) gives an anguished performance as the parent of a psychopath in the chilling WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN. What must it be like to be mother or father to one of these fiends, these two-legged predators in our midst? We tend to think of them as all coming from damaged, dysfunctional backgrounds. Surely, we assume, there MUST be something wrong with any family that could produce a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. If it isn’t a question of defective DNA, making them evil by nature, then surely it is nurture instead. That family must have done SOMETHING to that individual as a child to cause him to turn out the way he did. It HAS to be that way, we think. But, although it seems to be true of Ted Bundy’s family dynamic that something was always amiss, it often isn’t.
A lot of serial killers crave notoriety. Once caught, they may celebrate their infamy, but it leaves their family members, who are often innocent of any culpability for what their progeny became, to share it and suffer from it. I feel sorry for folks like Louise Bundy. The displaced guilt over having brought such a person into the world must be tough, if they can manage to accept that their child really IS what the world recognizes him to be. Some can’t.
Just remember, every deranged psychopath or depraved serial killer had a mother. A mother who probably had no clue she’d given birth to a monster.