Sometimes, there's nothing scarier than a fun-sized psychopath. The unnatural combination of innocence together with murderous tendencies is exactly what makes creepy children even more frightening than creepy adults. With a good year of horror ahead, including the highly anticipated Pet Sematary (which featured one of the scariest little munchkins in cinema history), what better way to honor the genre than prepare a list of the best horror films featuring creepy kids?
(Note: our list may contain spoilers, and probably scare you off having kids for good).
A combination of horror, supernatural thriller, and murder-mystery, Sinister flew a little under everyone's radar in 2012. When true-crime writer, Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) moves his family into the home of a recent horrific murder he is researching, he discovers a box of horrific snuff tapes that hint towards a supernatural force behind the murders: the Bughuul demon (thankfully, not a real-life entity).
Ellison learns that Bughuul would first lure children into killing their families, and then take them into his realm and consume their souls. In one particular scene, the ghosts of some of Bughuul's 'children' are quietly sneaking around Ellison in the dark, and they don't look so friendly.
9 The Bad Seed (1956)
On the other end of the spectrum, creepiness doesn't always exist in the form of demons or ghosts—sometimes, it wears pigtails. Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) is obedient, polite, well-groomed, articulate and wise beyond her years. Outwardly, she's every parent's fantasy — except for the intensity in her eyes that exposes her sociopathic nature.
Whilst on a school picnic, a resentful and jealous Rhoda murders one of her classmates, Claude, for having won the penmanship competition she felt she deserved, leaving the boy's body in a local lake. After noticing her apathy toward the 'tragedy', Rhoda's mother, Christine (Nancy Kelly) begins investigating and discovers that her 8-year-old daughter has inherited a murderous "bad seed" gene from her grandmother. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, The Bad Seed will get parents looking sideways at their little overachievers.
8 The Sixth Sense
Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is a 9-year-old with a sixth sense. In what became one of cinema's most iconic lines, Cole tells his psychologist, Dr. Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis), "I see dead people." The line wouldn't have been half as creepy if it weren't for Osment's stellar performance as Cole — a very gifted boy, who is equally innocent and wise as he is disturbed and haunted.
In an effort to help his patient, Dr. Crowe suggests that Cole find a purpose for his gift, rather than run from it. Although he is reluctant at first (since the spirits are so frightening), Cole decides to help the ghost of a young girl, Kyra Collins (Mischa Barton) and eventually Dr. Crowe himself — giving us one of the best, most unpredictable twists in the history of film.
7 The Shining
The Shining is most notable for Jack Nicholson's indelible and unhinged portrayal of the film's antagonist, Jack Torrance — a struggling writer who becomes the winter caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel, bringing along his family. Unluckily for Jack's wife, Wendy, and son, Danny—who himself is creepy with his psychic 'shining' power—the hotel eventually drives Jack homicidal; but there's more than one unnerving character in this Stephen King classic.
One night when Danny is riding his Big Wheel through the vacant halls, he turns a corner and sees two little girls holding hands, dressed the same — the Grady twins. "Come play with us. Forever. And ever," the girls beckon Danny with their eerily-monotonous siren call. We also see flashes of their dead, bloodied bodies in the same hallway.
6 The Omen (1976)
Next up, we have the Antichrist, Damien — also the antagonist of this 1976 classic. All hell breaks loose when American diplomat, Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) passes off Damien as he and his wife's biological son without her knowledge. Although we figured it out when the nanny hangs herself at Damien's fifth birthday party in front of everyone—but not before shouting, "Look at me, Damien! It's all for you,"—it takes Robert a little longer to realize he's raising the devil's spawn.
RELATED: Cast Of The Omen—Where Are They Now?
It's one thing that Damien (Harvey Spencer Stephens) screams in agony when being taken to Church, and another when everyone who tries to help Robert is killed in some horrible way. No wonder The Omen is considered one of the scariest films in cinema history.
5 The Village Of The Damned
When all the women living in the quiet town of Midwich, England fall pregnant and give birth simultaneously, you expect their offspring to be, well, different. Welcome to The Village of the Damned, where the kids are ultra-creepy and the adults are unsafe. Based on The Midwich Cuckoos novel by John Wyndham, the mysterious platinum-blonde children are void of conscience or personality, but have a 'hive mind' in which they telepathically communicate with each other. The kids all demonstrate eerie psychic powers that make the adults do whatever they want them to — like hurt themselves or commit suicide. You know someone's in for it when the children's wide, unblinking eyes start to glow.
4 Let The Right One In (2008)
Vampires can sometimes be a little overused in fiction, but few films explore children as the nocturnal, blood-sucking terrors that so effectively frighten and fascinate us.
Swedish horror movie Let the Right One In does exactly that when 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) meets the mysterious, somewhat androgynous young Eli (Lina Leandersson), who turns out to be a centuries-old vampire that feeds on others to survive.
Her murderous appetite is what we'd expect from a regular vampire, but it's her innocent, child appearance that makes her even more unnerving. For another thing, Eli climbs up walls, lurks in the dark, and bleeds through every orifice if she enters a home without being formally invited.
3 Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
When a jealous husband murders his wife, son and cat in a suburban Tokyo house, their vengeful spirits live on to form an invisible "ju-on"; a curse left over when someone dies with a deep and powerful rage.
In The Grudge, the spirits of Kayako and her young son Toshio pursue anyone who dares enter their home. One by one, several strangers—unaware of the events that took place earlier—encounter the curse and begin to die. Toshio, whose father drowned him in the bathtub, becomes a spiteful little ghost with pitch-black and wide open eyes, contrasted by his white, seemingly painted face.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Toshio opens his mouth really wide and lets out the most bone-chilling "meow" sound that will make you jump right out of your seat.
2 The Ring (2002)
Possibly the eeriest film on the list, the American remake of The Ring explores the inexplicable events surrounding a mysterious VHS tape that links to the deaths of four teenagers, including the niece of Seattle journalist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts).
The Ring is visually bleak, stark, and gloomy with its grey-blue filter and subtle, yet ominous score throughout — truly unsettling from start to finish. Though, what makes the film chilling is its child antagonist, Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase), the daughter of a family whom Rachel eventually connects to the tape.
Samara has long, jet-black hair that covers her face, leaving only a trace of pale-white skin — and that's in her human form. In The Ring's climax, Rachel's former partner, Noah (Martin Henderson) sees a decades-dead Samara crawl out of his television, with her twisted, water-logged body coming straight towards him.
1 The Exorcist
Many films out there prove why messing with a Ouija board is never a good idea. The Exorcist is one of them, and without a doubt, in its rightful spot at number one.
When a 12-year-old Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) falls victim to demonic possession, she begins exhibiting some telltale signs like peeing on the floor and muttering, "You're gonna die up there," and that's only the beginning. When things get really bad, the wholly possessed Regan is just the worst.
In one of the film's scariest scenes, Hollywood starlet Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) watches as her daughter very hastily crawls downstairs backwards and vomits upside-down, center of the frame. With her yellow eyes, rotting skin, and the most unnerving grimace you've ever seen, Regan MacNeil is easily the creepiest kid in cinema history.