torments viewers with every horror trick and trope in the book. It’s got jump scares, dreadful atmosphere, supernatural goings-on, the occult, spirits and seances, and, yes, creepy kids. You’ll be hard pressed to find a young girl more unsettling at the movies than Milly Shapiro as the forlorn Charlie, who may be channeling her dead grandmother…or worse. But enough tongue clucking: we present this week’s gallery of the 24 creepiest kids from horror movie history. Hereditary
(1956, 65%) The Bad Seed
A little angel that could contort into incinerating evil, Rhoda Penmark was the hellspawn against which all other hellspawn were measured for decades.
(1981) Burial Ground
Italian law at the time prohibited children on sets of violent or extremely sexual movies, so the director hired a 25-year-old actor to play someone 15 years younger, a bratty boy who has the hots for mama. Seems like a zombie invasion is the worst time let go of your Oedipal inhibitors, no?
(1984, 38%) Firestarter
Fearful that she’d be typecast as baby sisters in alien visitation movies, 8-year-old drew grabbed her career by the hojos and shocked audiences as this pyrokinetic gremlin ripped from the pages of Stephen King.
(1972, 88%) The Other
Niles and Holland Perry are identical and inseparable twin brothers. But when a summer at the farm yields fatal heart attacks, severed fingers, and missing babies, all signs point to something amiss among the Perry boys.
(1967, 100%) Spider Baby
Three orphaned siblings with the fictional Merrye Syndrome begin regressing in every way post-puberty, most notably the title sister with an appetite for arachnids.
(1979, 79%) The Brood
A series of grisly murders is going down. Could this pack of dwarf-like mutant kids be responsible. It’s a David Cronenberg movie, so…
(1976, 78%) Alice, Sweet Alice
Someone wearing a raincoat and a slick mask is committing murder in church and neighborhood. Could it really be Alice, sweet Alice?
(1980, 76%) The Changeling
You only get glimpses of the ghostly David — drowned in a bathtub, or as part of a cobwebbed wheelchair’s shadow — but it’s nearly enough to send George C. Scott running for the hills.
(1980) The Children
A toxic nuclear cloud sweeps the English countryside, turning all kids into zombies, causing their parents to lead a reluctant assault on them.
(1984, 36%) Children of the Corn
While the Corn kids alternate between goofy and moronic, it’s Isaac’s sunken, adultman eyes and thin pursed lips that made him the perfect candidate as creep leader.
(1973, 86%) The Exorcist
The ultimate in creepy kids, Linda Blair’s demonic turn as a foul-mouthed, puke-spewing Regan MacNeil still turns heads today.
(1993, 27%) The Good Son
Young Macaulay Culkin’s one credited foray into horror (besides The Pagemaster) was playing against type as an Elijah Wood-whacking cousin of the family.
(2004, 39%) The Grudge
Grudge may have been part of the J- and K-horror invasion of the early 2000s, but the filmmakers didn’t settle for imitation Asian here: original Grudge actress Takaka Fuji reprises her role as vengeful Kayako.
(2014, 98%) The Babadook
Is it a monster? Is it a metaphor for depression? Why not both? Samuel is a screaming terror who terrorizes his exhausted single mother, though Sam’s children’s book that fills its pages with threats towards the family might have something to do with it.
(1976, 86%) The Omen
Checks and balances guarantee Satan would never get anywhere near the White House — luckily, we have the movies to indulge in our unrequited fantasies! In The Omen, an American diplomat secretly switches out his stillborn baby with a newly orphaned toddler without telling his wife. Should’ve checked that bassinet tag closer, because hellacious tyke Damien grows up with an ungodly power of persuasion and, in the sequels, finds success in both the private and public sector.
(2009, 56%) Orphan
Isabelle Fuhrman, at the time 12, plays a child adopted into a grieving household. She then unleashes suburban hell, including trying to seduce her new dad.
(2007, 87%) The Orphanage
Tomas himself isn’t himself much of a creep, but wearing a mask whose face looks like it was flayed off a scarecrow doesn’t help.
(1989, 48%) Pet Sematary
Gage Creed is resurrected by his father (a kid with a name like that shouldn’t stay dead) through an unholy rite, and the kid immediately picks up a scalpel to go after his family. Millenial ingrate.
(1982, 86%) Poltergeist
She’s heeeeere. Carol Anne Freeling was a cute kid, which made her announcement of spectral visitors all the more creepy.
(1980, 86%) The Shining
Possessed Danny Torrance and his wagging hooked finger would’ve been the creepiest thing in any other movie, but the twins at the end of the hallway have made their place in the pop culture spook pantheon.
(1960, 96%) Village of the Damned
These hive kids terrified in the 1960 Village. In the 1995 remake, the scariest thing was that they kept the hair.
(1976) Who Can Kill a Child?
A married vacation couple arrive on a seculded island that appears to be populated only by knife-friendly children, and can seem to pass murderous intention from one to another through eye contact.
(1977, 56%) Audrey Rose
Suppose a stranger told you your daughter was his daughter in another life? Suppose you began to believe him? Suppose it was true?
(2002, 71%) The Ring
The death of VHS is not taken lying down in The Ring: Anyone who sneaks a peek of Samara and her black vine hair on a cursed videotape is killed one week later.