I don’t know what exactly it is about creepy kids in horror movies that is so unsettling, but even in bad movies it seems to work. And there’s been a nice trifecta of events that has motivated me make this list of the top 12 creepiest kids in film: 1) two Shooting the Script contributors have new babies – Katie just had her first baby and Bryan’s wife just had her third, 2) the latest creepy kid movie, Insidious, comes out on Friday, and 3) Rotten Tomatoes did their own list of “Creepiest Movie Children,” which I don’t entirely agree with.
This is film is extremely meta, so I feel obligated to summarize it a bit more than the rest.
Heather Langenkamp, Nancy from the original Nightmare on Elm Street, plays herself in the “real world” of New Nightmare. Wherein, Freddy is more than just a character in a film. He’s a vessel for evil that’s been captured in the film. Now the evil wants out. And since Heather played Nancy who defeated Freddy in the original film, he’s chosen her as a gateway into the real world. Haunting her and her son, Dylan.
Dylan has nightmares. Heather has nightmares about Dylan becoming Freddy. And Miko Hughes, who plays Dylan, is just generally creepy . . . more so when he tapes steak knives to his fingers.
Yes, Eli is the vampire, but she’s not exactly a kid anymore. And she’s not the one with a serial killer scrapbook. Eli kills out of necessity, for the most part, to survive. Oskar fantasizes about killing for revenge. Oskar’s been tormented and bullied, so he’s one of those kids you just kinda worry about.
Santi’s creep factor is 90% visual. He’s not a malevolent force, but with his ghastly appearance he’s still damn creepy.
The kid is the Antichrist for Christ’s sake . . . need I say more. I kept going back and forth about which Damien is creepier, but since it’s the same character I decided a tie would do. Though, each Damien is creepy in a different way.
The original Damien, Harvey Stephens, is creepy in how blank he is. His gaze is empty, icy. He’s so ominously emotionless until he cracks that sinister smile in the last frame.
While, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is just plain sinister looking the whole time with the perpetual shadows under his eyes. Far from empty, his gaze just cold and calculating.
Ah, Macaulay Culkin, you knew this was coming, right? How could I have a list of creepy kids without him. In The Good Son, he takes the mischievous smile–used to such great and charming effect in Home Alone–and uses it for evil. Whether he’s killing animals, causing car accidents or threatening his sister’s life, he smiles with relish. Creepy.
07. Michael Myers – Halloween (1978) – Dir. John Carpenter
& (2007) – Dir. Rob Zombie
Double trouble, and not because I’ve got two different Michael’s, but because they’re creepy and they dress up like clowns. Clowns can make anything exponentially creepier. Sure, young Michael is only in one scene in the original Halloween, but what’s creepier than a kid in a clown costume holding a fourteen inch knife?
Of course, Rob Zombie has to crank the creepy up to eleven and give us some more disturbing back story, a creepy kid killing spree, and a plethora of creepy masks. Daeg Faerch plays the young Michael, and in Zombie’s version we spend a lot more time with him than in the original. And Faerch plays a surprising sympathetic young Michael Myers. Chilling and creepy, but surprisingly sympathetic. A kinder, gentler budding young psychopath.
I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that you haven’t seen this film, and that’s a shame cause it’s just so amazingly bizarre. Jamie is a special boy. Nobody likes him. He’s a stalker and a peeping tom; he makes obscene phone calls; he blackmails his teacher into stripping for him and his only friend is his stuffed bear, Teddy, whom he has regular conversations with.
Also, he has a pit full of pet trolls he calls “tralalogs,” and Teddy convinces him to feed the people he doesn’t like to them.
05. The “Time-Out” Children – Village of the Damned (1960) – Dir. Wolf Rilla
These omniscient little Aryan devils just ooze creepy. Like evil porcelain dolls, with their glowing eyes and their mind control powers and deadly temper tantrums. I never looked at blond children the same after this movie.
04. Samara – The Ring (2002) – Dir. Gore Verbinski
And now, not only are shocks of blond hair creepy, but thanks to The Ring (and Ringu and all the other creepy long-black-hair-in-the-face J-horror), long black hair is creepy too. Samara seems like a meek, mousey little thing, but she’s pure evil. Even before she’s the creepy ghost, crawling out of the TV to kill you, there’s something unsettling about her.
03. Regan – The Exorcist (1973) – Dir. William Friedkin
I have two words for you: spider walk. That in and of itself is enough to earn Regan a spot on any list of the creepiest kids in movies. Head spinning, projectile vomit, unconventional crucifix use and her demonic makeover, that’s all just icing on the cake.
02. Gage – Pet Sematary (1989) – Dir. Mary Lambert
Miko Hughes makes his second appearance on this list as the infinitely creepier Gage. Brought back to life after being buried in the accursed cemetery, Gage becomes an evil, undead, scalpel-wielding hellion. Forget monsters under the bed, I was checking to make sure Gage wasn’t there.
01. The Grady girls – The Shining (1980) – Dir. Stanley Kubrick
I’m sorry, but you can’t have a list of creepy kids in movies without the Grady girls from The Shining. They are the be-all, end-all of creepy. The first time they appear out of nowhere in the hallway of the Overlook Hotel is probably one of the most terrifying moments in movie history. And they want you to play with them . . . forever . . . and ever . . . and ever.
So, still thinking of having kids of your own? Any children you think I’ve left off? And don’t say Esther from Orphan, cause if you’ve seen the movie, then you know she doesn’t count.