The form and degree in evil done by these fictional evil children varies widely. Some have their evil potential brought out by the situations they are thrown into, like the children in Lord of the Flies. Others seem to be corrupted through external influences such as abuse, violent media, or Satan himself. Others appear to be born with morally deficient genes and simply rotten to the core right from birth. Here are the scariest children I have found in film.
You cannot discuss children being evil in film without mentioning Damien Thorn from The Omen. This Satan spawn was switched at birth with a family’s murdered child. He uses his demonic will and temper to get his way, which is far from a good thing. This gothic thriller uses gore and violence with great effect and grips the audience and their imagination as much today as it did when it was released in 1976.
The horde of freaky children in Village of the Damned and sequel Children of the Damned are seriously spooky. These children are aliens all born on the same day by local women. That might not seem so scary, but they have psychic powers that allow them to make people do their bidding. I will never be able to forget the scene in Village of the Damned in which a harmless eye exam goes horribly wrong for one nurse. It makes me shudder just thinking about it, and it has been years since I have watched the movie.
Another evil child from the big screen that has disturbed my sleep for years is Issac Chroner from Stephan King’s Children of the Corn. A preacher boy with some serious issues leads a group of Nebraska children on a murderous rampage as they follow “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”. After all the adults that lived in the area have been slaughtered, motorists that stumble upon the culture completely by accident discover the children. Terror and threat of violence ensues. The film is not the best, but the evil and terror inherent in Issac and the other children is still palpable. I still look at cornfields with suspicion.
The Good Son shows Macaulay Culkin as Henry, a boy with an odd sense of fun. He enjoys killing neighborhood pets with a crossbow and throwing a dummy off a highway overpass to enjoy the ensuing mayhem. Henry’s cousin Mark suspects that all is not well with Henry, but his suspicions go unheeded. He might have already gotten away with murdering one younger sibling; will he have the opportunity to become an only child by killing his remaining sister?
Little pig tailed Rhoda Penmark from The Bad Seed was the first of many mainstream big screen evil children to terrify adults. Her completely innocent appearance, complete with knee socks and pinafores, is at odds with the evil she commits. Her evil is seemingly inherited by her murderous grandmother, but is still brutal and unexpected by the viewer. The only fault in this film is the ending, which was changed from the original found in the book and Broadway play formats, to give a moral ending to the story.
Orphan is the latest film in this tradition, featuring another innocent looking girl with pinafores. Ester is an orphan brought into a new home by a couple recovering from a miscarriage and a near tragedy with their deaf daughter. Her art and piano playing help to cast her as a perfectly polite and mannered child, but that is merely a coating for the sinister intentions that she might be hiding inside. The movie is seriously creepy and a bit more grisly than I was prepared for.
Runners up for most terrifying tikes and teens are found in the movies Bloody Birthday, Evilspeak, The Other, The Children, Them and Joshua. There are seemingly countless more, but no one wants to simply read a list of titles. If you enjoy being frightened but what should not be scary, and is tense terrifying, then check out these movies. However, be forewarned about the possibility of nightmares.