Follow TV Tropes

Following

Creepy Child / Live-Action Films

Go To

  • Wednesday and Pugsley from The Addams Family films. Pugsley's not so bad, but Wednesday is played to the brilliant creepy hilt by Christina Ricci (just look at that smile...) Ironically it's the opposite in the comics and cartoons: Wednesday is quite sweet and normal-looking (and gets upset when she makes the dean's list) while Pugsley is a near carbon-copy of his Uncle Fester.
  • A.I.: Artificial Intelligence has a Ridiculously Human Robot child, that sometimes behaves in an unsettling manner. Before he's imprinted on Monica, this means he speaks in a Creepy Monotone and smiles just a little too often; after he's imprinted, this means he's capable of smashing a duplicate robot's head off in a fit of possessive rage.
  • Advertisement:
  • Newt from Aliens has her moments. "They mostly come at night... mostly."
  • The ghost of Jodie Defeo from The Amityville Horror (2005). Possibly subverted due to there being the small implication that she's not actually evil and is forced to do "bad things" by the much more powerful spirit of Reverend Jeremiah Ketcham.
  • Apocalypto. The girl dying of disease who predicts the destruction of the Maya and the death of the main villain.
  • At the end of Back to the Future Part III, as Doc Brown talks to Jennifer, his younger son, Verne, issues a come hither gesture and points to his personal flux capacitor. However, given his expression during that scene, it seems the young actor was really trying to signal a crew member about a Potty Emergency.
  • Besides Literature and Theater, The Bad Seed (1956) needs mentioning in Film since the 'perfect little girl' was so monstrous that the Hays Office apparently felt the need to add a new ending, killing her off with a divine lightning strike. And after that, at the end credits where the actors take their bows, the mother takes the girl across her knee and comically spanks her to relieve any further audience anxiety.
  • Curtis and Debbie from Bloody Birthday; two out of the three child serial killers in the film, they are the smartest in school and can manipulate anyone, except for Joyce who sees through their tricks and psychotic tendencies. Another creepy thing about Curtis is he's very perverted and murders a couple having sex in a van.
  • The mental-trauma-made-flesh kids from The Brood.
  • Little Michael in the So Bad, It's Good Italian zombie flick Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror is rather creepy, even before he becomes a zombie. This is mostly because he's played by a twenty-something little person in a bad wig.
  • Tommy, Kayleigh's little brother from The Butterfly Effect, is very creepy as a child, staring at Evan while twisting the head off a doll. When he is a little older, he is a full-blown psychopath who's overly protective of Kayleigh and hates Evan. When he sees them kiss, he loses it and attacks a man at the theater, brutally assaulting him with a pole. Later on, he steals Evan's dog and burns him alive. When they attempt to save the dog, he beats the shit out of Evan, Kayleigh and their friend Lenny with a 2x4. Later, Evan goes back in time to prevent this event from happening. It ends when Lenny stabs Tommy with a shard of metal after being traumatized by accidentally causing the death of a woman and her baby. Tommy had dared him to plant the dynamite in the mailbox and told him that if he didn't, he would kill his mother.
    • It's implied that Tommy's dad sexually abused him as well as his sister. And in his defense, he apparently has a huge capacity for good as well as evil - one of his alternative futures is devoutly religious and helping the homeless, and in the novelization he's valedictorian and signs up in the Army.
  • Advertisement:
  • Lillith from Case 39 whose own parents tried to kill her because they believed she was a demon who feeds from feelings. They're right.
  • The British 2008 horror movie named The Children, where children turn against their parents for mysterious reasons and start killing them.
  • The Children of the Corn, who usually are led by even creepier child Dark Messiah.
  • The 1972 film Child's Play had a little blonde murderess.
  • The Strangers from Dark City had one among their ranks.
    • And he really stands out as the only one of the Strangers to even seem evil. They're mostly just desperate to save themselves by any means necessary, and another Stranger requires an injection of a serial killer's memories before he starts acting like a real villain. But Mr. Sleep is clearly evil from when we first meet him: he's flashing an evil grin everywhere when he's not just outright gnashing his teeth like a Cenobite, and he even viciously bites a guy's hand attempting to make him fall to his death.
  • Dead Birds: The Hollister children, who have been possessed and bear a horrible visage as a result.
  • EVERY SINGLE KID in Dead Friend (aka The Ghost).
    • The slow chant "Hide well...Your hair might show. Hide well...Your hair might show" was especially creepy.
  • The Devil's Backbone had quite a scary little Undead Child.
  • The Guards, a 1965 Norwegian feature film has the fourteen year old Bene, who fills the role to a T. She is in a mental institution, filled with other children smaller than her (and somewhat creepy as well), and she is constantly playing Chopin on a piano without hammers, making an eerie tune with what is left of the melody. Furthermore, she is very cunning, and psychic as well, and is also deadpan and emotionless most of the time. Bonus points for creepiness when she almost kills one of her wards with a sleeping bag - seemingly going from Dissonant Serenity to Homicidal Maniac in seconds.
    • This movie was, by the way, part of a trilogy exploring children with psychological problems. The third movie, made in 1966, stars the same child actress, and the use of her eyes doesn`t make her less creepy in the Spiritual Successor.
  • John Preston's son in Equilibrium has to go in here somewhere. A kid with no emotions? Run.
    • In the film's setting, even children are required to take the Librium drug. So all "good" children are creepy. If they're not "good", they still have to act emotionless to avoid getting the authorities' attention.
  • The Baby from Eraserhead, although less of the sinister emotionlessness, and more of the Body Horror.
  • Linda Blair's performance in The Exorcist is enough to actually make you believe Demonic Possession is real. There's a reason this movie is almost always listed among the top 10 scariest movies of all time, and she's that reason.
  • Exorcist: The Beginning had Joseph, who seems to attract bad luck everywhere he presents. Subverted since the one actually possessed is Sarah, the doctor.
  • The Barebone children from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would've been right at home in a horror film. Modesty's first scene has her singing a hopscotch song about killing witches and wizards, and then there's Credence and his clearly off-kilter manner. And then he's revealed to be an Obscurial, someone whose repressed magical abilities cause him to turn into a shadow of destruction.
  • Many of the children from FrankenWeenie, especially E.Gore and Weird Girl.
  • Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed is a werewolf-as-body-horror film. However the unassuming star has to be the young pale girl called Ghost. Who calmly helps out the protagonists with disturbing skill, making among other things "Poly", an exploding polyester scarecrow, as well as subtly lying and scheming. She burned her grandmother alive and left her helpless in hospital, and convinced people it was a smoking accident. She also convinced the primary protagonist that the male nurse raped her, causing him to be left to a messy death; and finally, killed the sane responsible woman who comes in and tries to protect everybody from the slathering werewolves) to fulfill her ultimate goal: To be like her comic book heroine and have a pair of werewolves under her leash. Something which she seems well on the way to accomplishing. A masterpiece of low budget but skillfully acted creepiness.
  • The title child in The Good Son. He kills his 3-year old brother, shoots a dog with a nailgun, and tries to kill his same-aged cousin, 8-year old sister, and his own mother as well. The kid is played by Macaulay Culkin.
  • Particularly striking example in The Great New Wonderful (2005), where a troubled child is Really, Really Creepy.
    • At one point his parents defend him, despite deep down knowing it to be a galling lie: "I mean, deep down he's a good kid." "He's actually a great kid." Speaking as the stern but fair voice of reason, Mr. Peersall (Stephen Colbert), replies "No, he's actually a selfish, incorrigible monster with a heart made out of shit and splinters."
  • The twin girls from the 80's comedy The Great Outdoors. The theme tune for the The Twilight Zone even plays when you first see them.
  • Young Michael Myers from Rob Zombie's retelling of Halloween is a very creepy child with an androgynous appearance who has a horrible family life, kills animals to take out his frustration, and after his mom isn't there to take him trick or treating he murders four people in his rampage. Later, at an asylum, it is shown he can't be trusted alone as he murders a nurse for saying that his baby sister is too cute to have come from such a family.
    • The original subverts this; despite him obviously being evil (he kills his sister at age 6 for no explainable reason other than she had sex, there wasn't even any indication of bullying) his face is quite angelic, if not adorable.
    • Also, Jamie from Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. An adorable, baby-faced little girl...who murders her adoptive mother at the end of the film.
      • It is revealed in the next film that Jamie's adoptive mother is indeed alive and well and that Jamie stabbed her due to being possessed by a developing psychic link with her murderous uncle.
  • The three children from the Korean film Hansel and Gretel (2007).
  • The 2009 movie The Hole (not to be confused with the Thora Birch movie of the same title) had an interesting take on this. The creepy little ghost girl had the face of a young woman about 17 years old - the age she would be now if she hadn't died as a child. It definitely contributed to the Uncanny Valley effect.
  • The children from The Innocents, the movie starring Deborah Kerr. No matter what the final explanation is, those kids are creepy.
  • The children of Hobb's End in In the Mouth of Madness. They were the first to be infected by Sutter Cane's books, and have gone correspondingly Axe-Crazy whilst mutating horribly.
  • The baby from It's Alive and the countless bad sequels does not fit the trope, as it lacks the superficial subtlety of the Creepy Child.
  • The eponymous star of Joshua, a 9-year-old genius, was rather disturbing to begin with, and only got creepier after the birth of his sister brought out the murderous, manipulative sociopath in him. It's a massively disturbing Evil Plan to be with his uncle, the only person who seems to really understand him.
  • Toshio the ghost toddler boy in Ju-on.
  • Ju-Rei has one, since no Ju-on ripoff is complete without a pasty white ghost boy.
  • Silas, a Catholic school boy from the Adam Sandler movie Just Go With It, who constantly refers to Sandler's character as a "fornicator" and threatens to kill him. Sandler's character lampshades his creepiness several times, calling him Damien, Chucky, and Child of the Corn.
  • B.B from Kill Bill. Fits, since she is the daughter of The Bride and Bill, taken out of her mom's womb when she was in a coma and then raised by her Big Bad dad. In a subversion, B.B's not as creepy as she could've been: she's mostly a Cheerful Child, but one with rather... off-kilter thoughts. (e.g., she meets her mom via mock-pointing at her as if she had a gun and saying "Freeze, Mommy!", later happily tells her about a certain dead pet named Emilio...).
  • In Legion, a young boy is attacked by possessed people, and is saved by the main cast. Within seconds, they find out that the boy himself is possessed, suddenly sporting a blank stare and a digitally lowered voice.
    Boy: Fooled you.
  • Rynn, the main character in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, is something of a creepy child, but the adults are creepier.
  • Thelma, the main character of Little Sweetheart, because she's a sociopath and a psychopath, and it shows in her interactions with people (and the fact that she watches B horror movies almost non-stop unless she's busy ruining someone's life or getting something she wants).
  • Laura in Logan acts more like a predatory animal than a person at the outset and still has a sense of wrongness about her even after Humanity Ensues. Her intense, aggressive gaze is a defining behavioral trait; whenever she enters an unfamiliar area, she scans her surroundings for other living beings and sizes them up while most likely coming up with plans to kill them should they pose a threat, not to mention analyzing and cataloging paths of egress, chokepoints, escape routes, ambush spots, and other geographical features of significance. In addition to this, she reacts to perceived threats violently and with no warning, is completely nonverbal until well into the movie, and is disturbingly immature and emotionally underdeveloped and displays behaviors that you'd expect from a child almost a quarter of her age.
  • C.K. from the comedy film Madhouse is a destructive child who wants to do nothing more than kill things and blow stuff up. He states that his initials stand for either "Cat Killer" or "Confirmed Kills", and he is responsible for at least two of Scruffy the cat's deaths. Mark Lampshades his potentially dangerous actions and calls him a "psychotic little shit" at one point.
  • The title character in May was one of these as a kid. Forced to wear an eyepatch due to a lazy eye, she was mercilessly teased by classmates who called her a pirate, and became a Lonely Doll Girl as a result. As an adult, she became a Creepy Womanchild.
  • In Men in Black, the rigorous selection process for potential Men in Black recruits involves an exercise where recruits take aim at cardboard aliens in a shooting gallery. While many of the recruits, the "best of the best of the best" of America's military academies, unload their weapons into the mockup aliens, Will Smith's character James "Agent J" Edwards fires a single shot into the forehead of a cardboard cutout of a little girl. In the aftermath, Zed dryly asks J "why you felt little Tiffany deserved to die".
    James: Well, first I was gonna pop this guy hanging from the street light. But then I realized, you know, he's just workin' out. How would I feel if somebody come runnin' in the gym bustin' me in my ass while I'm on a treadmill? Then I saw this snarling beast guy, then I noticed he had a tissue in his hand and I realized, he's not snarling, he's sneezing. Y'know, ain't no real threat there. Then I saw little Tiffany, and I'm thinkin', you know, "eight year-old white girl, middle of the ghetto, bunch of monsters, this time of night, with quantum physics books?" She about to start some shit Zed! She's about eight years old; those books are way too advanced for her. If you ask me, I'd say she's up to something. And to be honest, I'd appreciate it if you eased up off my back about it. [beat] ...Or do I owe her an apology?
    • This is one of the factors that leads to James's induction into The Men in Black as Agent J. It's made even more explicit in the novelisation of the film, where Zed and K explain that, while fearsome-looking, the apparently vicious looking aliens are the intergalactic equivalent of small fluffy kittens, and that Tiffany was indeed the correct target.
  • The title character in Mikey seems to be a perfectly normal happy-go-lucky child, but he has a dark past: he murders his first adoptive family — including a five-year-old girl — because he feels they didn't love him, he covers up this first series of murders by blaming it on an intruder and pulls a convincing story, then begins the second set of murders by first killing his friend's older sister's cat and blaming it on her boyfriend whom he also later murders because he has a crush on her.
  • The unnamed little boy in Noroi: The Curse. He follows his psychotic "mother" around, doesn't say a single word or make a single expression throughout the whole movie, and in the end it's heavily suggested that he's being possessed by Kagutaba.
  • Damien Thorn from The Omen is The Antichrist.
  • Esther Coleman, the title character of Orphan.
    • And Max to a lesser degree.
    • The Reveal shows that this trope is subverted. Esther is actually a 33-year old woman with a child's body... who is completely Ax-Crazy.
  • In The Paperboy Johnny McFarley is one of these. We find out he hated his mother, and killed her. He feels bad about it, so he kills an old lady and lures her daughter to her house so she can be his new mother. He becomes very obsessed with her and her daughter Cammie, going as far as spying on them and placing a walkie-talkie inside their wall so he can listen to her conversations.
  • In Poltergeist, the daughter (Carol Anne Freeling) of the... abnormally-afflicted family has a few scenes where she just creeps the shit out of you. The main example from the movie is thus:
    Carol Anne: Theeeey're heeeere.
  • The Purge: The youngest Sandin child comes over as this, especially when asking why his parents don't go out and kill people.
  • In the first Resident Evil movie, the underground base's AI's Hologram, The Red Queen, is a little girl, as is the voice.
    (Background noise cuts out)
    Hologram: You're all going to die down here.
    (Hologram shuts off)
  • Practically every recent horror film has at least one of these; the American remake of The Ring may have kicked off the trend, though Creepy Children in horror go back much further.
  • Screamers. The "Can I come with you?" boy who turns out to be a Killer Robot, after this fact is revealed.
  • The Grady daughters from The Shining are also a famous example of this trope.
    • Danny "Doc" Torrance in his trance state also qualifies for this trope.
    Danny : Redrum... redrum... redrum... redrum...
  • Alessa in the 2006 Silent Hill movie is very creepy. Given what Alessa had been through thanks to Christabella, it's no surprise that she's a little... strange, to put it mildly. Just look at her! She's burnnniiingggg.
  • Cole, early in The Sixth Sense, is one of the most well-known examples of this trope.
  • Abigail from The Sorcerer's Apprentice. She's a young Morganian that was the only real witch at Salem. She's every bit as evil as Horvath, and managed to escape prosecution in Salem.
  • Star Trek (2009) shows us Spock as a kid. We're used to green blood, utter lack of emotions, and an almost monotone voice...on an adult. Been there, seen that, buried the Red Shirt. But you've got to admit that on a kid, it's still way creepy.
  • Trick 'r Treat has this in the form of Sam the trick 'r treater. It turns out that he cannot be killed, and isn't even remotely human. It's also strongly implied that he's actually Samhain, a Celtic god of death.
    • A lesser example would be Billy Wilkins, who is quite aware that his father is a Serial Killer and enjoys carving jack-o'-lanterns out of the heads of the dead.
    • Then there's Rhonda, an autistic girl who leaves her fellow trick-or-treaters to die at the hands of the school bus ghosts.
  • Mark Collins in Twisted.
  • Played with in Francis Ford Coppola's Twixt. V. (Elle Fanning) is a young girl Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) meets in a dream, and initially does try to scare him, commenting that children think she's a vampire due to her overbite. As the film goes on, we learn that she was just a normal girl who was murdered along with twelve other children by a corrupt priest; her story, in turn, inspires Hall to write his next bestseller, a book about vampires. That being said, V.'s final scene involves her covered in blood, walking towards Hall with a Slasher Smile and vampire fangs, before pouncing on him and biting his neck. That last part turns out to be part of Hall's story; a major theme in the film is the blurring of reality and fiction.
  • Kevin Griswold from Vacation is a creepy foul mouthed, borderline psychotic little boy who bullies his older brother James, constantly insulting him and attempting to murder him by suffocating him with plastic bags, and he constantly gets his father Rusty in trouble by accusing people of being rapists or child molesters, he gets a little better after James finally stands up to him.
  • Claudia from Interview with the Vampire, especially the scene with the dead prostitute in her pile of dolls.
  • The half-alien psychic kids from Village of the Damned (1960). Which had a sequel, Children of the Damned (that is the inspiration for the homonymous Iron Maiden song featured on the quotes page) and remake.
  • In X2: X-Men United, Jason Stryker, the son of Col. William Stryker, is a mutant with illusionist and mind probing powers who has been lobotomized by his father so that he follows his every word. When he tries to fool Charles Xavier into using Cerebro for him and Stryker, he creates a scenario in which he is represented as a young, slightly creepy girl who asks Xavier to look for all the mutants. The only thing letting on that they are one and the same is that they both share the same asymmetrical eyes.
  • David Sandborn in the 2007 horror movie Whisper.
  • In Who Can Kill a Child?, there is an island full of them, the creepiest of whom is a young mop haired boy who blankly stares off into the sunset while fishing with human remains. The most horrible thing the children do is hang an old man like a pinata and swipe at him with a scythe until they chop his head off. It's later explained that the children turned into psychopaths because of something in the air. We also see that they can manipulate other kids just by staring into their eyes.
  • [REC] features three of them:
    • The little girl-turned-zombie
    • Jennifer
    • The boys in the attic from the first and second film.
  • Kendra, of 13/13/13, is first shown playing with a bug. Then crushing it. And eating it.
  • Blair Witch Project. And we don't even get to see them.
  • In The Annunciation, Lucifer is played by a twelve-year-old girl playing a role written for a grown man. The effect is very jarring.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report