Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Hunt

(Jagten, Denmark, 2012)

“Children don’t lie!” Who on Earth comes up with these cockamamie ideas, anyway? And who are the idiots who believe it? Children are born liars, they don’t even have to be taught. Usually they’re no good at it until they’ve had some practice, but they don’t lie? Give me a fucking break!

“Well, they don’t lie about sexual abuse, anyway.” Nothing can be further from the truth. The rationale for this idiotic assertion is that kindergartners don’t know what sexual organs are for, or something like that. For instance, a little girl couldn’t describe an erect penis unless she had seen one. On her father, for instance, or cousin Ernie. Or her blameless kindergarten teacher. This was always a pretty stupid argument, and it’s even less viable in this Internet age. Folks, we may not like it, but children these days have seen stuff that would gag a hyena, as well as normal human sexuality.

That’s what happened in this deeply disturbing, deeply felt horror show, based not on any particular instance of false accusation, but upon many, with the names changed. Poor little innocent Karla sees a picture of an erect penis on an older boy’s computer. She adores her teacher, Lucas. But one day he unknowingly pisses her off, and she tells the school principal a garbled story concerning Lucas’s penis. Then the machinery of investigation (botched from the very first moment), analysis (by people who have read a book and think they are experts), and confabulation (by the children, who are eager to come up with ways to please the teachers and parents) swings into high gear. Before long Lucas is chased out of his local supermarket (we don’t need your business, pervert!), a rock is hurled through his window, and his dog is murdered. Many of his best friends turn their backs on him. (“Kids wouldn’t make this up, therefore he must have done it all.”)

All of this, and worse, really happened. Much of it was during the “Ritual Satanic Abuse” hysteria beginning in the 1980s, when this idea of always-truthful children first took hold. And me, I hold psychiatrists and psychologists responsible for most of it. They are authorities, you see, they have degrees, they must know what they are talking about. When much of the time they are pulling their insights straight out of their own asses. This is the one point where I agree with Scientologists (up to a point). Psychology has a lot to answer for. I would restrict its use in courts to very limited circumstances, and I would require the judge to warn the jury that everything this “expert” says could be total bullshit.

There’s a sort of happy ending. The ironic thing is that, after her initial story, little Karla tried to tell people that she had made it up. No one would listen to her!!! Finally she gets her father, Lucas’s former best buddy in the world, to listen, and he makes up. The community accepts Lucas back … sort of. In the final scene someone takes a shot at him out in the woods. He doesn’t know who it was, but the message would be clear to me. You can no longer stay in this little town, some of us don’t trust you, and next time it might be your son, not the dog, that we kill.

To this day there are those who are still searching for the vast network of tunnels the children say existed under the McMartin Pre-school. No matter that it was impossible, and that some of the children had long recanted their implanted memories (some still believe the bullshit they spouted). These things never go away.

This was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, but didn’t win.