Being pregnant is a wonderful thing. It’s a cause for celebration, happiness, and hope. It can also be a little scary, depending on the circumstances. That’s one of the reasons why movies like to utilize it as a subject. By playing up some of those pregnancy fears, or inventing fictional ones, films can really get a rise out of the audience. The juxtaposition of something amazing and something terrible is a pretty solid hook on which to hang a story.
Below is a list of scary movies dealing with pregnancy. Many of them are in the horror genre. Some are not. Those that are create unnerving scenarios for their heroes and heroines to face, while those that aren’t present authentic troubles that you can bet more than a few viewers will relate to. Of course, scariness is subjective, but we’re confident that you’ll find at least one or two titles here that will give you a shiver, for whatever reason.
Here are the 15 Scariest Movies About Pregnancy.
15. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
There’s no denying that the Nightmare on Elm Street movies got sillier as they went along. Freddy Kruger went from being a terrifying villain to a wisecracking antihero the audience was not-so-subtly encouraged to root for. Nonetheless, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child attempted to recapture the dark quality that made the original so effective.
Alice (Lisa Wilcox), the heroine from the previous installment, believes she has vanquished Freddy once and for all. The facially-disfigured psychopath is crafty, though, realizing that he can continue his reign of terror by inhabiting the dreams of her unborn child. That’s exactly what he does, and before long, people are dying left and right. His ultimate hope is that he will be brought back into the world, stronger than ever, when the baby emerges from the womb. The Dream Child has some fun with the idea of a popular screen monster possessing a defenseless fetus, and it includes some of the most creative kill scenes in the franchise, most notably one in which Freddy murders a comic book artist.
14. Devil’s Due
Devil’s Due combines pregancy horror and found footage. That kind of makes sense, given that a lot of people videotape their pregnancies, and sometimes even their deliveries. Newlyweds Samantha and Zach McCall (played by Allison Miller and Zach Gilford) are on their honeymoon when they have a little too much to drink. The following morning, they have no memory of what happened the night before. (Hint: they’ve totally been cursed in a demonic ritual.) Before they know it, the couple is unexpectedly pregnant, despite Sam being on birth control.
Over the course of her pregnancy, the vegetarian Samantha starts devouring red meat, develops ugly bruises on her stomach, and exhibits an intermittent sense of rage that goes well beyond the expected hormonal stuff. As several titles on this list point out, being pregnant with a devil-baby never leads to good things, and by the end of the movie, all kinds of tragic events have taken place. Devil’s Due admittedly utilizes a lot of tired cliches, but there are also a few undeniably squirm-worthy scenes, including a prenatal test that features a too-big-for-comfort needle.
13. The Seventh Sign
In 1988’s The Seventh Sign, Demi Moore and Michael Biehn play a couple who lost their first child during pregnancy. They are now expecting another and nervously hoping nothing goes wrong this time. Things seem to be going well until they rent a room above their garage to a mysterious stranger named David Bannon (Jurgen Prochnow). Unbeknownst to them, he is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and his mission is to open seven seals that will unleash the Biblical disasters upon the world. Opening the final seal, thus ushering in the apocalypse, involves claiming the soul of the couple’s baby.
The Seventh Sign strikes many people as silly, especially given the revelation that Moore’s character is the reincarnation of a significant person from the Bible. (We’ll avoid that spoiler here.) Other folks take umbrage at the fast-and-loose way the movie plays with religious ideas. That said, many religious viewers get seriously freaked out by this film, with its theme of the Book of Revelations coming to fruition.
Junior stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Alex Hesse, a medical researcher developing an experimental drug that he hopes will decrease the chances of miscarriage in women with risky pregnancies. When the government halts his plans for human testing of the drug, he and his partner (Danny DeVito) steal a female egg, implant it into Hesse, and allow him to become pregnant. Emma Thompson plays the doctor’s love interest, who catches on to the scheme.
This is, obviously, a high-concept comedy designed to milk laughs from the sight of manly-man Arnold Schwarzenegger sprouting a big belly, whining that his nipples are sensitive, and experiencing morning sickness. But here’s the thing: Junior was a massive box office disappointment, especially in relation to the previous Schwarzenegger/DeVito team-up, Twins. That’s because the sight of a pregnant Arnie dealing with all these things is incredibly, unintentionally creepy. The movie may not be scary on purpose, but it is definitely freaky, especially when he’s given an epidural and an emergency C-section.
11. Beyond the Door
Beyond the Door is a 1974 Italian-American co-production with a rather odd pregnancy tale to tell. Juliet Mills plays Jessica Barrett, the wife of a record producer. She has an affair with a stranger and subsequently becomes pregnant. That alone could cause big problems for her, but there’s so much more. The man with whom she had the dalliance previously made a pact with the devil, meaning that the child growing inside of her is the antichrist. That would totally suck, wouldn’t it?
Now fertilized by the seed of Satan, Jessica begins displaying odd behaviors, like twisting her head around, speaking in a weird guttural voice, and projectile vomiting all over the place. If those behaviors sound familiar, then you’ve already figured out that Beyond the Door was made immediately in the wake of The Exorcist‘s phenomenal worldwide success. Even if it is a bit of a ripoff, one has to marvel at the unapologetically dark ending, in which the devil reveals he was just messing around with everyone for his own sinister fun. Because Satan is a jerk.
10. For Keeps
There’s an expression that’s often used when a teenager gets pregnant: “babies having babies.” The 1988 movie For Keeps is about babies having babies. Molly Ringwald plays Darcy, a high school senior with plans to attend college. She and her boyfriend Stan (Randall Batinkoff), who is also college-bound, have sex, which results in her falling unexpectedly pregnant. Faced with this unplanned occurrence, they decide to get married and raise their child.
For Keeps goes deep in looking at how scary pregnancy is when you’re essentially a child yourself. Darcy has to drop out of school, missing many of the things she had been looking forward to. Stan gets a part-time job, struggles to pay the bills, and eventually starts drinking because of the pressure. The futures they had planned for themselves are abruptly derailed. The film also bravely addresses another frightening issue — post-partum depression. Darcy finds herself so overcome with sadness that she can’t hold her own child. For Keeps has a happy ending, but not before showing how terrifying it is to get pregnant when you aren’t even remotely ready for it.
The 2007 French movie Inside (also known as A L’interieur) stars Alyson Paradis as Sarah, a pregnant woman who gets into an automobile accident that kills her husband. She and their unborn child manage to survive the crash. On Christmas Eve, she sits at home, desperately missing the man she loved and preparing to give birth the following day. Then, a mysterious stranger (Beatice Dalle) shows up at her door, intent on taking the baby. Sarah fights her off, but later, the woman breaks into the bedroom and attempts to perform a Caesarian section with a pair of scissors.
Inside contains a lot of gruesome events, all of which lead up to a surprise twist that would be worthy of a Twilight Zone episode. If the reason why the strange woman wants to steal the baby doesn’t shock you, the movie’s nihilistic ending surely will. Directing team Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo later contributed a segment to the horror anthology The ABCs of Death 2. They aren’t afraid to take their stories to some dark, disturbing places, and Inside is proof of that.
8. The House of the Devil
To be fair, watching Ti West’s atmospherically creepy The House of the Devil, you wouldn’t know you were watching a movie involving pregnancy. (Warning: This entire entry is going to be a spoiler!) Jocelin Donahue plays Samantha, a college student in dire need of money. She takes a job house-sitting for a weird couple (Mary Woronov and Tom Noonan). All she has to do is watch over the place while they go out for the evening and look after the wife’s ailing mother, who lives in a room upstairs.
Much of this slow-burn horror flick is Samantha walking around the giant house, checking out its every nook and cranny. That may sound dull, but West infuses the movie with a sense of foreboding that keeps you hooked. We know that something paranormal is going on within the home’s walls, we just don’t know what. Eventually, Samantha finds herself drugged and bound, courtesy of the couple who hired her. They perform a bizarre Satanic ritual that, we learn in the final scene, leaves her pregnant with the devil’s child. If movies are to believed, old Scratch spends a lot of time trying to impregnate attractive young women. The House of the Devil is distinguished from similarly-themed films by its retro style and carefully controlled mood. It’s a chiller in the truest sense of the word.
7. Knocked Up
Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up is so hilariously funny that you may not realize just how scary it is. Katherine Heigl plays a career-minded young woman who has a one-night stand with a pot-smoking, unemployed man-boy (Seth Rogen) and becomes pregnant. The movie details how these two virtual strangers find themselves thrust together by the need to prepare for impending parenthood, whether they want to or not. Comedy ensues.
Stop and think about it, though. Getting pregnant from a one-night stand? Scary! Having the father be an immature, weed-loving slacker you normally wouldn’t go anywhere near? Horrifying! Wondering whether said father will end up being a negative influence on the child? Bone-chilling! Apatow treats the subject with both humor and warmth, but there’s no doubt that he’s addressing ideas that are very real and very unnerving. If you watch Knocked Up from Rogen’s point of view, it’s hysterical. Watch it from Heigl’s — putting yourself in her character’s shoes — and it’s surprisingly scary.
6. Children of Men
Children of Men is set in a dystopian future where women have become infertile, and nearly two decades have passed since a baby was born. Humanity is in the process of dying out, or so it seems. Clive Owen plays a bureaucrat who is asked to transport a refugee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) through an Underground Railroad-type system that will deliver her to a rescue organization. He agrees, and then learns the shocking truth that the young woman he’s helping is pregnant.
Director Alfonso Cuaron takes this scenario and creates a taut, ominous adventure in which the entire fate of mankind rests on the safety of this pregnant woman. The characters face a variety of life-threatening situations, while we wait anxiously, hoping that the unborn child will get the chance to enter the world. Children of Men keeps you on the edge of your seat with inventively executed action sequences, as well as a theme about the importance of doing everything possible to support pregnant women.
5. The Fly
David Cronenberg’s The Fly is a twisted remake of a cheesy-but-fun 1958 creature feature about a guy turning into the titular insect. Jeff Goldblum plays Seth Brundle, a scientist who develops a teleportation device. He tries it out on himself, unaware that a common house fly has gotten into the contraption with him. Upon coming out the other side, he finds himself rapidly evolving into a weird fly-like creature.
The movie has a whole subplot involving Goldblum’s girlfriend Veronica, played by Geena Davis. She becomes pregnant, but has no idea whether the conception occurred when Seth was a man or a man-fly. This leads to a blood-curdling nightmare sequence in which she dreams of giving birth to a giant maggot. Veronica decides to get an abortion to avoid any possibility of this dream becoming reality. Seth, however, has a plan to forcibly meld himself with her and their unborn baby via his machine so they can be the “ultimate family.” The Fly has all kinds of scary pregnancy ideas, from the notion of producing a non-human child, to the thought of a father going psychologically berserk right at the moment when his support and care are most needed. Plus, that icky maggot baby.
It’s probably safe to say that no pregnant woman should watch Grace. Ever. Jordan Ladd plays Madeline, a woman whose life is shattered following a car accident. Her husband is killed, and the impact causes her baby to die in utero. It’s a tough, painful pill to swallow. Madeline makes the decision to carry the pregnancy to term anyway. The stillborn child is delivered, and the distraught mother somehow wills it to life. The little girl, whom she names Grace, seems okay at first, but then starts exhibiting behaviors very atypical for an infant, like drawing hordes of flies and drinking the blood squeezed from raw beef. And you thought mashed peas were gross!
Grace clearly has some far-fetched elements that are spooky, but the idea of a woman having her baby die in the womb is the kind of this-really-happens-sometimes horror that causes deep discomfort in viewers. The best fright films often have a foot in reality. This one certainly does. That makes it one of the most notable genre films about pregnancy.
3. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
In the realm of awkward movie titles, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire ranks pretty high up there. But boy, is it ever a powerful work. Gabourey Sidibe plays Precious, an illiterate teenager who already has one child and is pregnant with another. As the story progresses, we learn that both children are the product of rape by her father. Her abusive mother (portrayed by Oscar winner Mo’Nique) blames Precious for the rapes, angrily accusing her of “stealing my man.”
Precious examines some themes that are just as scary as — or even scarier than — anything you’d see in a horror film: teen pregnancy, being pregnant without a support system, trying to have a healthy pregnancy in a mentally and physically abusive environment, and, of course, getting pregnant from incest. There’s definitely some uplift by the story’s end, although not before it has taken you through a rather harrowing depiction of an adolescent enduring the most stressful pregnancy imaginable.
Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece Alien is different from the other titles on this list because it’s not explicitly about pregnancy. You have to read between the lines to get it. Some of the earliest clues come in the form of the production design. It’s no coincidence that artist H.R. Giger made so much of the alien xenomorph and its world look sexual. Keep your eyes peeled, and you’ll see phallic symbols and things that resemble female genitalia all over the place.
Then there are the creatures. Poor Kane (played by John Hurt) gets a “face-hugger” attached to him. It implants its seed into his stomach, which is essentially an impregnation. The film’s most famous sequence pays off that idea when a small, disgusting creature bursts from his chest. That’s the delivery. Scott and writer Dan O’Bannon use their sci-fi/horror concept to examine the fear of pregnancy and childbirth that some men have (which is why it’s a male who endures this unpleasant “birth”), and they do so in a way that is still distressing to this day.
1. Rosemary’s Baby
Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby is (pun absolutely intended) the mother of all pregnancy-horror films. Often imitated, never duplicated, it is the movie against which all similar movies are judged. The sublime Mia Farrow plays Rosemary, a happy wife who is shocked to discover that her neighbors — including the kindly older couple next door — are actually a coven of witches who have conspired to impregnate her with the child of the devil. Worst of all, her husband (John Cassavetes) is complicit in the plan.
Even if you already know what happens, Rosemary’s Baby is chilling. That’s because Polanski, adapting Ira Levin’s novel, emphasizes the scope of the conspiracy. Rosemary is trapped in her big apartment building, where everyone else can watch her every move. The gynecologist treating her is part of the coven, too, so even he won’t assist her. She is utterly alone, with nowhere to turn for help. This quality makes the final scene, wherein Rosemary basically accepts her fate and decides to parent the little demon, devastatingly haunting. Rosemary’s Baby is an all-time horror classic, for very good reason.
Which of these movies scares you the most? Are there any other scary movies about pregnancy that we missed? Tell us what you think in the comments!
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