9 Creepy Child Characters in Horror Movies
Here’s another reminder you should always ask for a babysitter's background check.
1. "The Other" (1972)
Set in the sunny 1930s Connecticut countryside, "The Other" takes the "evil twin" trope to chilling heights. Twins Niles and Holland Perry couldn't be more different: while Niles is a beacon of innocence, Holland is a walking nightmare. This isn't just harmless sibling rivalry; we're talking about telekinetic abilities and a penchant for sociopathy. What makes this lesser-known film remarkable is how it builds tension slowly, revealing the chilling reality at a creepily unhurried pace. Author Tom Tryon, who wrote the book the film is based on, was an actor before he turned to writing.
2. "The Innocents" (1961)
"The Innocents" is a spine-chilling adaptation of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw". Deborah Kerr plays a governess, Miss Giddens, who starts to believe the two children she looks after are possessed by the ghostly spirits of the estate's former servants. The children, Flora and Miles, are played with eerie precision by Pamela Franklin and Martin Stephens, respectively. Their performances, coupled with the film's ominous, black-and-white cinematography, transform these innocent children into figures of terror. This movie has a whopping 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating – and it's totally earned.
3. "The Devil's Backbone" (2001)
Next on our frightful tour is a lesser-known gem from Guillermo del Toro. Set in a Spanish orphanage during the tail-end of the Spanish Civil War, "The Devil's Backbone" introduces us to Santi, a spectral child who's more ominous warning than malevolent spirit. With a bomb (yes, a bomb) lodged in the courtyard and secrets hidden in every shadow, the orphanage proves to be a hotbed for tension and dread. Del Toro himself describes this film as a sibling to his more famous work, "Pan's Labyrinth".
4. "Celia" (1989)
This Australian horror flick is perhaps the most peculiar on the list, blending horror with social and political commentary. Nine-year-old Celia believes her late grandmother's stories of Hobyahs, monsters that come to take naughty children away. As Celia navigates a world of adult conflicts and fears, she begins to imagine these creatures invading her suburban life. This film blurs the lines between reality and Celia's imaginative horrors, leaving viewers entranced and unsettled. Plus, you might learn a bit about Australian 1950s politics.
5. "Kill, Baby, Kill" (1966)
Mario Bava's "Kill, Baby, Kill" delivers Italian flavor in spades. In a small Carpathian village, the locals are haunted by the ghost of a young girl, Melissa, who died under tragic circumstances. Melissa has this unsettling habit of bouncing a ball before causing horrific hallucinations and eventual deaths. It's the kind of film that makes you nervous about turning off the lights, proving that horror doesn't need a colossal budget to get under your skin.
6. "Island of the Damned" (1976)
Set on a remote English island, this Spanish horror flick introduces us to a brood of eerily blond children with some rather unnerving abilities. They can control minds, incinerate humans, and oh, they're virtually emotionless. Talk about a drastic shift from your typical schoolyard antics. The real horror lies not in their supernatural abilities, but in their chilling detachment from human emotion and empathy. As a bonus, the film's hauntingly surreal setting adds an extra layer of terror to the creepy-kids buffet.
7. "The White Ribbon" (2009)
While not a conventional horror film, Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" certainly delivers its fair share of chills. The film unfolds in a German village on the eve of World War I, where a series of horrific accidents begins to expose the rotten core beneath the village's pristine exterior. The children in the film take on a particularly eerie aura, their seemingly innocent actions hiding a more sinister reality. In true Haneke fashion, the horror here is psychological and deeply unsettling. The movie was so good, it bagged the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2009.
8. "Sauna" (2008)
"Sauna" is a Finnish horror film that is as much about historical guilt and remorse as it is about eerie children. A story of two brothers in 16th-century Finland, who come across an uncharted village with a mysterious sauna that could cleanse one's sins. The village girl, who barely utters a word throughout the film, is a haunting presence. Her silent judgement and uncanny knowledge of the brothers' sins make her a particularly disturbing character.
9. "The Children" (2008)
In this British horror movie, a family's New Year celebration quickly turns into a fight for survival. The children, infected by a mysterious virus, turn violently against their parents in a frenzy of blood and snow. The creepiness factor escalates as the movie progresses, proving that even the most idyllic family vacation can turn into a living nightmare. Just when you thought your worst holiday experience was Aunt Edna's infamous fruitcake, "The Children" adds a new meaning to the phrase 'holiday from hell.'