The Bad Seed Returns is a 2022 Lifetime Psychological Horror Made-for-TV Movie, directed by Louise Archambault. It's a sequel to the 2018 remake of The Bad Seed, continuing the story of Villain Protagonist Emma Grossman (Mckenna Grace). Grace herself co-wrote the screenplay with her father Ross Burge and Barbara Marshall, and also served as one of the executive producers.
Several years after the death of her father David, Emma lives with her aunt Angela (Michelle Morgan) and her family: uncle Robert (Benjamin Ayres) and their infant son Cade. Rather than the cold Enfante Terrible of the first movie, Emma is now a more outgoing and popular high school-aged girl, but she's still an obsessive, murderous psychopath. Her focus is now on becoming the captain of the school's dance squad, but Kat (Ella Dixon), a mysterious new transfer student, seems to know things about her that could thwart that goal and upend Emma's life. Meanwhile, Emma starts tormenting Angela by targeting Robert and Cade.
The Bad Seed Returns contains examples of:
- Age Lift: Assuming both movies take place in the present time of when they were made, Emma should be 13 (since she was 9 in the first movie), but here she's 15 or 16 (it's never exactly specified). Since Mckenna Grace was a case of Dawson Casting in the first movie (she was 12), this allows Grace to be the same age as the character here.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Emma sets the house on fire, killing Angela, Robert and Kat, and also successfully frames Kat for it.
- Bad People Abuse Animals: The movie opens up with Emma abducting a dog and killing it with a knife.
- Bullying a Dragon: If Kat really suspects Emma of the murders in the first movie, it seems like she ought to go to the authorities, but instead she taunts and threatens Emma over it.
- The mascot of Emma's high school is the Wasps. A wasp nest was part of a subplot in the The Bad Seed (2018).
- Emma also revives the attempted murder method her father used on her in the first movie—spiked hot chocolate—to kill Kat.
- A subtle one to the 1956 movie, with Emma whistling "Clair de Lune" (Rhoda's signature piano piece) as she cleans up the garage.
- Emo Teen: Kat, with her drab fashion sense, nose ring and Deadpan Snarker attitude qualifies.
- Evil Is Petty: While this trait is already well-established for Emma from the first movie (not to mention her predecessor Rhoda), placing it into the naturally petty world of Teen Drama amplifies the situation greatly for her.
- Forgotten Friend, New Foe: After first tossing out some vaguely threatening hints to Emma, Kat reveals that she's a former classmate of her's at St. Alban's from the first movie, but Emma doesn't remember her. Having witnessed the aftermath of the deaths of Milo Curtis and Mrs. Ellis, she's figured out that Emma killed them, along with the other murders she committed in the first movie.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Robert is a professor of Cuban literature and sprinkles Spanish liberally into his conversation, trying in vain to teach Emma the language. However, after he threatens her, she responds in perfect español.
- How We Got Here: The movie starts with the murder of the dog, then about midway through it's established what was going on—it belonged to Stephanie, her archrival on the dance team.
- Meaningful Name: Kat is, well, catty, and waiting for a chance to pounce on Emma. Emma even makes this connection.Kat: I know all about you.
Emma: Do tell...
Kat: Where should I start? With the housekeeper falling down the stairs? Milo drowning? Mrs. Ellis' car wreck? A babysitter burning to death? A dad getting shot? A stepuncle getting crushed by a car? And now a dog getting chopped up in a park? Coincidences? Or a pattern?
Emma: Stray Kat has claws!
- No Kill like Overkill: Thankfully we don't see it, but Emma apparently decided to mutilate the dog as much as possible besides killing it.
- No Social Skills: Emma is so clueless about dating that she has to do a web search on "what to do when a boy likes you" when Nathan shows interest in her (not to mention that she does this while her uncle is in the hospital and she just cleaned up the garage to remove any evidence that might incriminate her).
- Parlor Games: At the slumber party, Kat leads the girls in a marijuana-fueled game of Never Have I Ever, but it's actually a ruse to reveal Emma as a murderer.
- Psychological Horror: With more of an emphasis on the Horror part than the first movie.
- Reality Has no Subtitles: Emma and Robert's Spanish exchange.Emma: Tio, entiendo claramente. Que bueno que tuvimos esta conversacion.TranslationRobert: íTe tengo en la mira, mijita!Translation
- Remake Cameo: Patty McCormack, the star of The Bad Seed (1956), returns as Emma's psychiatrist Dr. March.
- Sequel Hook: The movie ends with Emma and Cade going into foster care together, leading to some horrifying future possibilities for the young boy with his twisted cousin as his caretaker.
- Ship Tease: A cute classmate named Nathan is interested in Emma, but since she's utterly incapable of affection, nothing really happens between them.
- Slipping a Mickey: Emma puts crushed pills into a mug of hot chocolate and gives it to Kat at the climax, so that it will look as though Kat set the fire then "killed herself to avoid arrest".
- Slumber Party: Steph holds one at her house, mainly for the dance team members, but in a spirit of friendship they invite Kat as well.
- Stay with Me Until I Die: Realizing there's no way they can get out of the burning house, Angela tells Robert to lay down next to her so they can perish together.