Why It’s Good to Be Disturbed


Netflix is stepping up its game! They’re actually making movies available that I care to watch or revisit (Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Lethal Weapon…) But scrolling through the other night, there was one that caught my attention that I had forgotten was on my to-watch list.

It’s a Peter Jackson movie, so that was my biggest reason for watching it. In my opinion, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong are enough to set him up as one of the greatest directors of all time. But then, this one in particular seems to go unnoticed.

It’s called The Lovely Bones. Usually when I turn on a movie, I’m asleep within fifteen minutes. This one kept me up for the full two-hour-plus runtime. I was intrigued, disturbed, riveted, emotional, and all those other feelings a good film should evoke. But mostly I was terrified.

It’s the story about a girl who is kidnapped and murdered but doesn’t cross into heaven until she can help her family cope and find her killer.

I’d say it’s probably one of the most haunting movies I’ve seen in years. But these stories are so important! They’re important to us as parents because they remind us that our kids are never ever safe. Let me tell you, it’s going to be a long while before my daughter is out of my sight for a split-second in public.

Yes, we need the Finding Nemo reminders that we should be brave enough to let go of our kids every once in a while, but we also need the hard, cold slap in the face that there are psychopaths out there that will take our kids at a moment’s notice.

And we must be vigilant.

The movie also inspired me to begin drafting a new novel about kidnapping. Let’s just say it will be an exercise to visit my deepest fears and blow the siren for the rest of us.

These types of stories might be upsetting and disturb us, but they’re necessary. I hate hearing about people who don’t watch the news simply because it’s so depressing. I mean, that’s just the way the world is, and it’s better to know what’s going on in it than to be ignorant (these are strong words coming from a guy who wants to live at Disneyland).

My kids are going to be taught at a very young age not only to never talk to strangers, but why they shouldn’t. “Because you can be killed,” I’ll tell them. “There are people you can trust after your mom and dad are friends with them and as long as they never ask you to be alone with them. There are people you can smile and nod to at Target and the grocery store, and you move on. And then there are people that want to hurt and kill you. They’re the ones who go the extra mile to be friendly to you. They’re the ones you want to run away from and scream at the top of your lungs. No one will ever fault you for that.”

My children are going to be as prepared as I can make them.

I’ll never forget the story a friend of mine told me about how he was at the park with his two daughters and he saw a guy just looking at them. “I’ve seen that look before. I’m a man, I’ve had that look before. But when he starts looking at my girls that way… I walked up to him and told him, ‘You need to get out of here.’ I made sure he got in his car and left.”

My friend is a hero. It might sound like he let the guy off scot free, but at least for a while, that pervert is going to wonder who else is noticing him. Hopefully he’s going to think twice before acting …or looking.

I recommend The Lovely Bones to every parent. Forget the whole heaven vs. hell and afterlife stuff. Watch it for what it’s meant to be: A wake up call to us parents, and an attempt to fuse just a little bit of beauty into a tragedy we cannot fix or prevent.

Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

9 thoughts on “Why It’s Good to Be Disturbed

  1. I read the book years ago, and it was even more disturbing (I’m betting) than the film. I mean, I walked around for weeks afterward just feeling…ill at ease. Harrowed. And almost unable to regain the belief that not all loners are creepy stalker/killers. In fact, I refuse to see the film based on how much the book upset me.

    But you’re right about the fact that we need to remain vigilant for our children and teach them to be vigilant also. I started doing the same thing for my kids when they were pretty young, and while even just having the conversation freaked me out a little they seemed to accept the fact that it’s okay — good even — to fight back, run, and seek help if that situation ever arises.

    1. I might definitely read the book if for nothing else to see how Peter Jackson the genius translated it for the film. I’m just thankful stories like this exist.

  2. Just try not to mentally inflict the scars you’re trying to protect them from. I tried to have a stranger danger talk with my kids and told them a lot but stopped before I went into the detail that would have damaged them. I just realised they wouldn’t understand and needed to be watched very closely. Safety is incredibly important but so is emotional stability. Teaching caution is good but a life lived in fear is a tragedy.

  3. I did read the book and cried like a baby when I finished it and I enjoyed watching the movie, wondering how they would ever turn the book into a movie which delves into such deep topics of child protection/stranger danger and life after death. I’d watch this movie now with different feelings after losing my 20year old son last Oct, and hope that he is safe and happy in Heaven just like ‘Suzie Salmon’ the young lady in the story.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your son. It’s odd though, through experience, I’ve learned that stories of loss bring unexpected healing.

      1. I agree. I am finding my writing about love, memories & grief while honouring my son has helped me & others in my family deal with it all. I’m a person that can’t necessarily speak about things but can find ways to write them down

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