From huggable dolls that come to life as voodoo killers to loveable St. Bernards that become rabid monsters, there’s nothing more unsettling than the undermining of innocence. That’s why the horror genre is just brimming with spooky kids. From ghostly apparitions to undead cannibals, these tiny horrors make great villains precisely because of their disarming demeanor. Still, as Narciso Ibáñez’s 1976 film once asked: Who can kill a child?
Of course, not all killer kids are created equal, and having celebrated some of the best Final Kids in horror in our previous article, we thought it was time to give the teenage villains a chance to shine with a roster , which celebrates six of the best baddies as children in horror films. After all, every evildoer has to start somewhere…
As with last time, we will be selecting characters based on the child performer’s performance and memorability, not necessarily the quality of the film(s) in which they appeared. We will also only include real children in this list, so no Sam (Trick or treat) or Esther (Orphaned), just as these characters see like children.
As usual, don’t forget to comment below with your own favorite performances by villainous child actors if you think we’ve missed an important one.
Now for the list of some of horror’s best killer kids…
6. Daeg Faerch / Michael Myers – Halloween (2007)
Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s classic could get a lot of criticism for its over-the-top brutality and overall Rob Zombie Nessbut even the harshest critics have to admit that the first half of the film is a shockingly unique take on a slasher villain origin story.
Zombie’s reimagining by Michael Myers, which takes Donald Pleasance’s line about encountering a child with the eyes of the devil and expands it into an entire subplot, features a tiny psychopath brought to life by Daeg Faerch. Years of abuse and untreated mental disorders have turned this seemingly mild-mannered child into a ticking time bomb, and the real horror behind this remake is seeing how both nature works and Nurture can band together to summon an unstoppable Killer.
Faerch is even allowed to murder one of the originals spy kids cold blooded! What’s worse than that?
5. Alexander Brickel / Dougie – Satan’s little helper (2004)
One of the naughtiest kids ever portrayed in a horror film, Alexander Brickel’s “Dougie” deserves its spot on this list for his utter devotion to the trick Part of Trick ‘r Treat. Satan Man may be the star of the show in this offbeat horror comedy, but the humor just wouldn’t work if his serial killer sidekick wasn’t just as hilarious.
While some horror fans have criticized Dougie’s ridiculously naïve indulgences, that’s not really the actor’s fault as the role was originally written for a younger child. Also, the film is clearly not to be taken seriously, as the picture even includes a scene of the murderous lead duo running over pedestrians (including a stroller) with a trolley, which I think is a tribute Death Race 2000. That’s Peak Cinema right there.
4. Yuya Ozeki / Toshio Saeki – Ju On (2002) / The resentment (2004)
The Green Band trailer for the American remake of The resentment was enough to give me nightmares as a kid, so I couldn’t help but add the infamous Toshio to this list. The ghostly apparition of a boy murdered by his own father, Toshio stands alongside Sayako/Samara as one of the most recognizable characters in all of J-Horror.
The Pale Ghost also features the most disturbing use of a cat’s meow in a film of all time, although some of the character’s shock value has been toned down after the memorable (and somewhat troublesome) parody it features scary movie 4.
Curiously, Yuya Ozeki returned to play Toshio again in the American version of the film. Back then, the diminutive actor was benefiting from a bigger makeup budget, which made his spooky performance all the more compelling.
3. Jodelle Ferland / Alessa – silent Hill (2006)
Christophe Goose’ silent Hill It may not be a perfect movie, but it’s still the best horror game adaptation out there. While there’s some nightmare fuel in the film, many of its scares stem from the updated characterization of Alessa, a character relegated mostly to scraps of letter in the original game.
In the 2007 film, Jodelle Ferland plays a dual role as both the innocent victim and the sadistic organizer of the city’s curse, with enough nuance in her portrayal that you can actually root for the antagonist by the end of the film. While it’s a shame the film’s sequel didn’t do her character justice, Ferland’s incarnation of Alessa remains a memorably chilling addition to the franchise.
2. Harvey Spencer Stephens / Damien – The Omen (1976)
After years of absurd parodies and watered-down sequels, you’re forgiven for forgetting Richard Donner’s original The Omen was actually an incredibly frightening picture. And that fear is due in no small part to Harvey Spencer Stephens’ memorable dealings with the young Antichrist, Damien.
Most of the character’s chilling charms can be attributed to the young actor’s natural abilities, but Donner was instrumental in getting the very best performance from this talented child actor. In fact, the film’s iconic final shot was achieved by the director telling Harvey Not smiling for the camera and knowing that the kid would end up doing the exact opposite!
1. Linda Blair / Possessed Regan – The Exorcist (1973)
Sometimes classics are considered classics for a reason, so I don’t think anyone will be surprised that we included Linda Blair’s Regan at number one. Another dual role, with Blair alternating between an innocent child and the sinister Pazuzu, the extensive special effects makeup was just a small part of what made this performance so iconic.
Hell, Blair even got an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Regan, which is pretty cool for a 14-year-old. While it’s a pity she didn’t reprise her role in 2016 exorcist series (though the recast makes sense given the midseason twist), Blair’s take on Regan remains one of the best horror film performances Period and will probably live on as that finally Archetype of the bad child in cinema.