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Monday, November 7, 2022

Killer Kids: Six of the Best Evil Child Performances in Horror

From huggable dolls coming to life as voodoo-powered murderers to lovable St. Bernards becoming rabid monsters, there’s nothing more disturbing than the subversion of innocence. That’s why the horror genre is simply chock-full of creepy children. From ghostly apparitions to undead cannibals, these pint-sized horrors make great villains precisely because of their disarming demeanor. After all, like Narciso Ibáñez’s 1976 film once asked: Who Can Kill a Child?

Of course, not all killer kids are created equal, and after our previous article celebrating some of the best Final Kids in horror, we thought that it was time to give the juvenile villains a chance to shine with a list celebrating six of the best evil child performances in horror movies. After all, every evildoer has to start somewhere…

Like last time, we’ll be choosing characters based on the child actor’s performance and memorability, not necessarily the quality of the movie(s) that they appeared in. We’ll also only be including actual children on this list, so no Sam (Trick ‘r Treat) or Esther (Orphan), as those characters only look like kids.

As usual, don’t forget to comment below with your own favorite villainous child actor performances if you think we missed an important one.

Now, onto the list of some of horror’s best killer kids…

6. Daeg Faerch / Michael Myers – Halloween (2007)

killer kids daeg faerch

Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s classic may get a lot of flack for its excessive brutality and overall Rob-Zombie-ness, but 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.

Taking Donald Pleasance’s line about meeting a child with the devil’s eyes and expanding it into a whole sub-plot, Zombie’s re-imagining of Michael Myers features a pint-sized 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 in seeing how both nature and nurture can team up to conjure an unstoppable killer.

Faerch even gets to murder one of the original Spy Kids in cold blood! What’s more evil than that?

5. Alexander Brickel / Dougie – Satan’s Little Helper (2004)

Satan's Little Helper streaming

One of the naughtiest children ever depicted in a horror movie, Alexander Brickel’s “Dougie” earns his place on this list due to his utter devotion to the trick part of “trick ‘r treat”. Satan Man may be the star of the show in this oddball horror-comedy, but the humor simply wouldn’t work if his serial killer sidekick wasn’t equally hilarious.

While some horror fans have criticized Dougie’s ridiculous levels of naïve compliance, that’s not really the actor’s fault, as the part was originally written with a younger child in mind. Besides, the movie clearly isn’t meant to be taken seriously, with the picture even featuring a scene where the murderous main duo run over pedestrians (including a baby carriage) with a trolley cart in what I can only assume is an homage to Death Race 2000. That’s Peak Cinema right there.

4. Yuya Ozeki / Toshio Saeki – Ju-On (2002) / The Grudge (2004)

Ju-On Juon The Grudge

The green-band trailer for the American remake of The Grudge was already enough to give me nightmares as a kid, so I couldn’t help but include the infamous Toshio on this list. The ghostly apparition of a boy who was murdered by his own father, Toshio stands next to Sayako/Samara as one of the most iconic characters in all of J-Horror.

The pale ghost also boasts the most disturbing use of a cat’s meow in any movie ever, though some of the character’s shock-value has been toned down after the memorable (and slightly problematic) parody that shows up in Scary Movie 4.

Curiously, Yuya Ozeki returned to play Toshio again in the American version of the film. That time, the little actor benefited from a larger make-up budget, which made his ghostly performance all the more convincing.

3. Jodelle Ferland / Alessa – Silent Hill (2006)

killer kids silent hill

Christophe Gans’ Silent Hill may not be a perfect movie, but it’s still the best horror game adaptation out there. While the film features quite a bit of nightmare fuel, many of its scares come from the updated characterization of Alessa, a character that was mostly relegated to epistolary scraps of text in the original game.

In the 2007 film, Jodelle Ferland plays a double role as both an innocent victim and the sadistic orchestrator of the town’s curse, with enough nuance in her performance for you to actually root for the antagonist by the end of the picture. While it’s a shame that the film’s sequel didn’t do her character justice, Ferland’s incarnation of Alessa remains a memorably creepy addition to the franchise.

2. Harvey Spencer Stephens / Damien – The Omen (1976)

killer kids omen

After years of absurd parodies and diluted sequels, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Richard Donner’s original The Omen was actually an incredibly terrifying picture. And those scares are in no small part due to Harvey Spencer Stephens’ memorable take on the young antichrist, Damien.

Most of the character’s spooky charms can be attributed to the young actor’s natural abilities, but Donner was instrumental in getting the very best performance out of this talented child actor. In fact, the iconic final shot of the film was achieved by the director telling Harvey not to smile towards the camera, knowing that the kid would end up doing the exact opposite!

1. Linda Blair / Possessed Regan – The Exorcist (1973)

Sometimes, classics are regarded as such for a reason, so I don’t think anyone will be surprised by our inclusion of Linda Blair’s Regan in the number one spot. Another double role, with Blair alternating between an innocent child and the eldritch being Pazuzu, the extensive special-effects makeup was only one small part of what made this performance so iconic.

Hell, Blair was even nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Regan, which is pretty cool for a 14-year-old. While it’s a shame that she didn’t reprise her role in the 2016 Exorcist series (though the recasting makes sense due to the mid-season twist), Blair’s interpretation of Regan remains one of the best horror movie performances period and will likely live on as the definitive archetype of the evil child in cinema.

The post Killer Kids: Six of the Best Evil Child Performances in Horror appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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