Top 10 scariest children in horror history
#10 – Karen ‘the zombie girl’, Night of the Living Dead
Despite being an early example of ‘the scary child’, the audience still know it’s not going to end well when this little girl feels poorly during the whole zombie panic. Hidden in the basement under the house of survivors by her parents, the main problem occurs when little Karen decides that, against conventional wisdom, she’s not going to STARVE her fever…
#9 – Isaac, The Children of the Corn
The one true prophet of the demon ‘He Who Walks Behind the Rows’, Isaac likes to terrorize his followers into obedience by glaring at them through his supernaturally kohl-rimmed eyes. Whilst watching, you really get a sense that Isaac’s leadership of the town of murderous children seems to come from a sense of him being eerily ‘wise beyond his years’; although this may be down to the fact that despite looking like a child, he’s played by an actor in his twenties with a growth hormone deficiency. Spookily.
#8 – Claudia, Interview with the Vampire
Whilst ostensibly just another whiney character inhabiting Anne Rice’s world of angst-ridden vampires, Claudia fairly successfully engages the audience’s sympathy when compared with her young-monster contemporaries. Eternally a trapped as a little girl, Claudia’s longing to grow up and appear her own age is tragic and hints at a deeper horror than mere gore and jump scares- the inability to move on from a moment in time. However, before we feel too sorry for her let us not forget her downright creepiness, particularly her hunger for “more” blood and death, and the fact that keeps the decaying body of a prostitute in amongst her dolls. That’s not normal childhood behaviour.
#7 – Abby, Let Me In
A recent addition to the canon of creepy children (if she can be held as such considering her implied actual age) and in some ways the spiritual successor of Claudia, Abby plays on her innocent appearance to manipulate and FEED ON those around her. Expect lots of gore and gravelly demon-monster voices to orbit this particular little one, and not an awful lot of personal regret for the results of her actions.
#6 – Cole Sear, The Sixth Sense
A classic of the ‘troubled child’ genre, Cole has issues. Serious, ghost based issues. And the ability to tell if teachers used to stutter as children (Seriously, did anyone ever understand why that was never re-addressed?! It doesn’t really have anything to do with ghosts, but I guess it adds to the creepy factor, so maybe we shouldn’t question it). Luckily, child psychologist Bruce Willis has some experience in this field and wants to help the youngling on his journey; moving from a creepy loner who sees ghosts to a (slightly) less creepy loner who sees ghosts, but is also in the school play! What a success.
#5 – Danny Torrance, The Shining
A psychically gifted boy whose best friend is his (sort of) talking finger, his chance at a normal childhood was doomed even before his father moved the family to a haunted hotel. Plagued by horrendous visions (a sea of blood pouring out the hotel lifts, anyone?) it’s no wonder Danny feels the need to speak in a gravelly voice, leave sinister messages and stare ominously into the middle distance in some sort of odd warning to his mother. To his credit, you do get a warning that something’s going to go wrong when young Torrance begins to grit his teeth and shake his head in an unintentionally amusing manner; and he’s got the wide-eyed-silent-screaming thing down to an art! Before we move on from Kubrick’s disturbing vision of childhood…
#4 – The Grady Girls, The Shining
The previous child-victims of the Outlook Hotel, the Grady girls now spend their time appearing suddenly and speaking in unison. Their party trick consists of displaying their blood soaked and dismembered bodies to poor innocents (well, Danny Torrance… but to be fair they don’t get many visitors). Whilst being fairly minor characters in terms of screen time, anyone who’s ever watched this film will always remember to decline an invitation to “come and play” with this sinister pair.
#3 – Samara Morgan, The Ring
Samara Morgan terrorised a generation of teenage sleepover-goers to the extent that the sound of a static television still provokes jumpiness. Seemingly a product of the chain-email mentality (i.e. pass it on, or you’ll get got) this nasty little drowned creature defies the laws of physics on a number of counts to prove her point…that she likes to murder people. The rumours of the production of a 3D film for the franchise will most likely make best use of her favourite party trick, pulling herself out of screens- aren’t you glad for the 3D revival now?
#2 – Regan MacNeil, The Exorcist
Not entirely her fault- it’s more the demon living inside her that’s spooky- but she shouldn’t have gotten herself into the situation in the first place: the blasphemous, terrifying, head spinning situation. A valuable lesson in why you shouldn’t talk to strangers (especially via Ouija board), even those who seem nice to begin with, like Captain Howdy did, may want to do you harm; or be trying to make you projectile vomit everywhere.
#1 – Damien Thorn, The Omen
Ah Damien, the spookiest of all spooky children, although he does have a distinct advantage in not being as born-to-mortal-woman as the rest of those on the list. A human-sized cuckoo who takes control of his family in practise for his taking control of the world, Damien displays maniacal glee in his destruction of the lives around him- which really bodes well for his implied future career in politics (ZING!). Both versions of The Omen full on exploit the ‘scary child’ trope, and- despite the fact that the remake’s existence seems to be solely based on a need to utilise the release date (06/06/06)- both versions succeed in drawing remarkably creepy performances out of their child actors. The sequels were never as good, proving there is just something horrifying about the Antichrist being a primary school student. And worst of all, the comfort that you can take in it all just being a film is somewhat shattered by the total ‘OH GOD, HE CAN SEE US!!’ ending shot. And you know what? He’s so creepy that he probably can.