Kids are scary. I’m going to be a father soon, and I’m terrified. And it’s not just me; for decades, horror movies have used children in their imagery, and to great effect. It seems that imbuing our notion of childish innocence with a sense of evil puts our perception of the world and its values out of kilter. Like a lovely fluffy pillow stuffed with diseased hypodermic needles, something which should be non-threatening suddenly becomes a very real danger. From the numerous monstrous minors who have put on edge over the years, here’s a selection of our favourites.
Regan MacNeil: The Exorcist
With a complexion you’d have to die for, Regan makes a gang of knife-wielding hoodies seem as threatening as a church choir. Although the film is rather dated now, and some of the dialogue is just plain hilarious, this little devil’s propensity for projectile vomiting, head spinning and her innovative use of a crucifix ensures that she’ll go down in history as one of the scariest of scary children the silver screen has ever witnessed.
Skipping girls: A Nightmare On Elm Street
Quite possibly the most frightening thing in this film, these eerie apparitions joyfully play with a skipping rope, while chanting, “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…” For all the blood and gore that these films boast, this single image is the one that’s most likely to stay in your memory, the sound of their gleeful taunting echoing around your head as you try to sleep. Big pointy knives are scary, yes, but little girls with a skipping rope? Terrifying.
Sadako: Ring Trilogy
Although she doesn’t really feature much until the third instalment of the series, and she always plays second-fiddle to her adult incarnation, young Sadako is, nevertheless, suitably spooky. Sporting the famous ‘over the face’ hairdo, you never see what she looks like, but you know you probably don’t want to find out. She’s able to kill people just by thinking about it, and as the polar opposite of her other half, she is pure concentrated evil.
Damien: The Omen
Making it abundantly clear that children are scary, this little chap made sure that no one could ever again hear the name ‘Damien’ without shuddering. As the adopted son of a US Ambassador, he’s used to having an influential father, but is nevertheless surprised to find out his real daddy is Satan. However, he soon shows his true colours with a series of gruesome, cold-blooded murders. Well, boys will be boys.
Toshio Saeki: Ju-On: The Grudge
Despite being upstaged by his freakishly bendy mother, Toshio’s ability to walk through walls and hover over your face as you lie petrified on your bed, trying to maintain control of your bladder, makes him more than worthy of inclusion here. He also highlights a trend in Asian horror for scary kids. We’ve already mentioned Sadako, but similar imagery is also used in Dark Water, in which Hideo Nakata unleashed yet another soggy dead girl on the world.