There are two different, though interrelated, sources of dread in Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin
. In addition to giving us flashbacks of a horrible crime that’s never fully revealed until the movie’s final minutes, Ramsay presents the bone-deep apprehension of Eva (Tilda Swinton), who worries her son’s threatening behavior is her own fault. Because it is Eva’s son Kevin who is responsible for the shocking act of violence, the film quickly becomes an unrelenting black hole of terror.
By eschewing a linear approach to this material, Ramsay uses the first 20 minutes of screen time to get inside Eva’s head. We have no idea what the images mean -...