Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin is exploitation posing as art. Based on Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel, it’s a stacked-deck psychological horror film about a suburban mom, played by Tilda Swinton, who along with her wimpy husband (John C. Reilly) raises a son named Kevin, who grows up into a monster — a taunting teen sociopath with a violent chip on his shoulder. The older Kevin is played by Ezra Miller, who sneers like Adrian Grenier’s androgynous cousin and is easily the best thing in the movie.
Kevin perpetrates a school massacre, but anyone looking for insight into, say, the minds of the Columbine killers won’t find it in We Need to Talk About Kevin. The movie is creepy, but it has no texture or depth. It’s like The Omen directed by Miranda July. Swinton, for all her skill, gives an overly chilly and cerebral performance. She’s so forbiddingly severe that the film’s message seems to be: This is what can happen if Tilda Swinton is your mom. B-