“False Positive,” which hit Hulu on Friday, sees Ilana Glazer terrorized by a sinister pregnancy and an even more sinister fertility doctor (Pierce Brosnan). The “Rosemary’s Baby” vibes have us reminiscing on not just that classic film but on all of the villainous children of horror history.
Let’s countdown film’s best cases for birth control, AKA the creepiest kids of cinema.
10. Charlie, “Hereditary” (2018)
While young Charlie is ultimately a victim in Ari Aster’s instant-classic debut feature, “Hereditary,” she sure does make an eerie impression. Actress Milly Shapiro, in her first film role, imbues the troubled teen trope with a sense of otherworldly dread, rendering the character’s thousand-yard stares and periodic tongue-clicking genuinely creepy instead of comical. Although she is absent for the film’s off-the-walls final act, Charlie’s untimely demise remains one of the most shocking movie moments of recent memory.
9. Rhoda, “The Bad Seed” (1956)
Simultaneously ahead of its time and deeply of its time, 1956’s “The Bad Seed” hasn’t aged nearly as well as its villain. Arguably the prototype for every evil child since, Rhoda is an 8-year-old serial killer who hides her rage with a facade of pigtailed precociousness. Although the censors didn’t allow much violence apart from the drowning of another kid, Rhoda’s subversion of the wholesome sensibilities of the day was enough to scare the bejesus out of people. If you ask me, the deranged look in her eyes during that hug still is.
8. Adrian, “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
We never see the Rosemary’s titular baby, which makes the hold the devil’s spawn has on both its traumatized mother and riveted viewers all the more impressive. The credit belongs to Mia Farrow, who manages to ground the horror classic’s heightened stakes (cultists in her apartment building grooming her unborn child to use in satanic rituals) in reality. Farrow’s psychologically tormented performance comes to a head when she finally sees her child in the flesh, her petrified impression evoking an image in our minds far more horrifying than anything that could’ve been committed to celluloid.
7. Isaac, “Children of the Corn” (1984)
This Stephen King adaptation was poorly received by critics at the time of release, however, its snot-nosed baddie endures. In a small rural town populated only by children, Isaac, a 12-year-old preacher, is the unofficial mayor, leading the miniature citizens in ritualistic slayings of adults. Isaac, played by John Franklin, is scarily charismatic in an overzealous, King Joffery-esque way, making a film that may have otherwise been lost in the annals of early 80s cheese memorable.
6. Mercy and Jonas, “The Witch” (2015)
In spite of all their little games and giggles, these kids are an unsettling element of an already incredibly unsettling movie. Over the course of Robert Eggers’s terrifying folkloric feature debut, it’s revealed that Mercy and Jonas have not only conspired to ruin their older sister Thomasin’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) life but that they’re tight with the devil himself, or rather one of his minions, Black Philip. Their playful taunting, even as older brother Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) is at death’s door, is downright chilling. However, Mercy and Jonas are not the only spooky set of twins you’ll see on this list.
5. Esther, “Orphan” (2009)
You know you’ve got a creepy kid on your hands when adoption groups are concerned she’ll undo hundreds of years worth of goodwill toward orphans. Although it stirred up a little controversy, this film about a couple adopting a 9-year-old Russian orphan only to find that she’s really, in fact, a 33-year-old woman and a murderer was a modest box office hit. Practically all of its success can be attributed to Isabelle Fuhrman’s darkly funny but nonetheless disturbing performance as Esther. Personally, I find no moment more disturbing than when she hits on Peter Sarsgaard though.
4. The Grady Twins, “The Shining” (1980)
Despite possessing the least screen time on this list, the Grady twins have almost all of their kiddie contemporaries beat in terms of iconic status. Of the many spirits roaming the Overlook Hotel, these primly dressed little girls have the most memorable line, “Come play with us Danny, forever and ever, and ever,” as poor psychic Danny Torrance sees visions of their grisly murders from the other end of a long corridor. Maybe it’s the girls’ monotone delivery; maybe it’s the shot’s creepy composition. Either way this is a classic horror scene for a reason.
3. Samara, “The Ring” (2002)
Now that’s a face only a mother could love. Even if you’ve never seen this American remake (adapted from the 1998 Japanese film “Ringu”) you know that Samara is pure nightmare fuel. With her long stringy hair, terrifying grimace and fondness of creepy old wells, actress Daveigh Chase and director Gore Verbinski managed to make the character the stuff of urban legends.
2. Regan, “The Exorcist” (1973)
“The Exorcist” is widely considered to be the scariest movie of all time. I’m not sure if that’s true, but the film is still a triumph nonetheless. Although Linda Blair, who was only 14 at the time of filming, certainly deserves her props, the unsung heroes behind this character are voice actor Mercedes McCambridge and makeup artist Dick Smith. What makes Regan’s cursing, vomiting, head-spinning predicament so horrifying is the fact that her story starts from such a grounded, relatable place. The notion that an ancient evil can overtake anyone? That’s scary.
1. Damien, “The Omen” (1976)
Although not as flashy in style as the bronze and silver medalists, Damien, the kid from the landmark ’70s film “The Omen,” is evil incarnate. Unlike Regan, who only commits atrocities while under the possession of a demon, Damien is quite literally the son of Satan. Damien acts in mysterious ways, with much of the terror coming from the way in which people react to him, which lead to some of the most unnerving scenes in horror history, one famously involving a child’s birthday party. There may be better, more original films on this list, but there are no creepier kids.