This October, you have a solemn duty to watch as many horror films as possible. Hundreds of thousands of people worked months and years of their lives for the sole purpose of creeping you out; all you have to do is watch their movies, which is – let's face it – the easy part. We'll even do the heavy lifting of recommending which movies you should watch. Each week in October, we'll be presenting a new Buzzlist of horror films based on a particular theme. Could it be any simpler? Well, yes, if you woke up strapped to a gurney in a dank basement and were forced to watch horrific images by a deranged scientist – that would be simpler. But this is both simple and fun.
This week, we focus on films that feature the time-tested horror film staple: creepy kids. What is it about children that makes them such perfect movie monsters? Is it their small stature and tiny hands? Their high-pitched voices? Or perhaps it's the deep-seated fear in all of us that a kid will – ahem – pop up out of nowhere and completely screw up our lives? Pedophobia is a very real part of human life, and, yes, scientifically speaking, it does have quite a bit to do with the fear that our children will consume more resources than we are able to provide. It also has to do with the fact that children are wild, inexperienced, uncontrolled forces that seem to come quite literally out of nothing and cause all sorts of havoc. In the spirit of looking at a beautiful, innocent child and thinking, What the hell is that awful creature? we present the Creepy Kids Buzzlist:
Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), The Exorcist (1973) – This seminal classic has often been cited as the best horror film ever made – and at least one well-known critic has called it the best film of any kind. Along with films like Rosemary's Baby and The Omen, it helped take the horror genre out of traditional Gothic settings like dusty castles and desolate forests, and planted it squarely in the middle-class American home. Recent successes like Insidious and the Paranormal Activity series owe a great debt to The Exorcist.
Toshio Saeki (Yuya Ozeki), Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) – Director Takashi Shimizu based this series on traditional Japanese folktales about onryō, or vengeful spirits. The little boy Toshio, with his pale skin and huge eyes, is the most iconic ghost in the film. Shimizu also directed the American remake of his film, with worthy but ultimately inferior results. The Japanese version nails that special kind of creeping terror that grabs hold of you out of nowhere and makes you feel that something mind-destroyingly awful is just around the next corner.
Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase), The Ring (2002) – In contrast to The Grudge, the American version of The Ring is one of the few English-language remakes to outshine its source material. As the first wave of J-Horror to hit American cinemas, The Ring brought with it entirely new ideas of what horror could be. Samara (née Sadako) may be the most frightening monster child in cinema history because she's utterly alien in her motivations and desires. Plus, the film has something clever to say about mass-media's corrupting effect on our lives.
Gage Creed (Miko Hughes), Pet Sematary (1989) – A modern take on “The Monkey's Paw,” this tale of a man whose young son is killed before his eyes is so dark that the author considered disowning it. The film's a slightly campy tone takes some of the sting out of the story's more soul-crushing moments. Interestingly, Gage becomes a monster due to nothing more than his parents' desperate love. It's a metaphor for both the monumental power of grief and the disasters that result when we're unable to let go of who we want our children to be.
Alessa Gillespie (Jodelle Ferland), Silent Hill (2006) – One of the best video game adaptations in cinema history, Silent Hill is a sad, surreal portrait of childhood twisted into despair and dreams perverted into nightmares. The fire that has burned for decades beneath the town of Silent Hill (inspired by the real-life mine fire that still burns below Centralia, Pennsylvania) mirrors Alessa's undying hatred for the small-minded fanatics that surround her. The film proves that a tormented child with supernatural powers may be the most destructive being imaginable.
Check out Buzzine's Top 5 Creepy Kids on our Amazon Listmania!