What is one of the scariest horror movies you’ve ever seen? Was it The Ring? Maybe it was The Grudge? Maybe it was a little less of a haunting movie and more of an intense drama type like The Sixth Sense or The Shining. Or maybe it was something creepy and paranormal in an unexplained way like The Omen or Pet Sematary. Whatever your favorite horror movie is, we can guess what common theme that all of them had in common: creepy A.F. kids. Having children in a horror movie raises the stakes by a lot. First of all, it means that there are pure and innocent lives at stake of itty bitty kiddies. No one wants them to get hurt! But frequently, they become the crux of the horror and the reason we get goosebumps at night. Whether they’re possessed or inherit creepy powers or WERE SOMEHOW THE MONSTER ALL ALONG, these kids go from being tiny little treasures to being terrifying objects of fear that you’d do anything to escape.
What’s worse is that we’re somehow always surprised when kids turn out to be key players in horror movies. The second we see some happy kids in a horror movie, we should know that things aren’t going to end well for them. But how did things end up for the actors playing those kids? Did the monsters of their stories fill their nightmares, or have they gone on to star in chick flicks? Let’s find out: here’s what’s happened to 15 child stars of horror films…
15. Miko Hughes
This kid was so absolutely cute until he went totally haywire and came at everyone with a knife. Honestly, we still can’t watch that movie without freaking out when this kid has the big knife in his hand and is hovering over his victim baring his teeth in a murderous growl. Pet Sematary was based on one of Stephen King‘s most messed up books, and it involved death, reincarnation, and a sort of possession. Mike Hughes played the young son, Gage Creed, who tragically dies only to be brought back to life (sort of). He was only 3 when he was in Pet Sematary and was thus introduced to Hollywood at a pretty ripe age. After having starring roles in titles from Kindergarten Cop and Full House to Apollo 13 and Jack the Bear, Miko’s career slowed around the early 2000s (about the time he graduated high school). He still acts today but has expressed more of an interest in directing — if anyone will give him the job.
14. Isabelle Fuhrman
Remember Orphan? Oh yeah, that was one messed up horror movie. It was all about a little girl named Esther, who is adopted by a caring family from a disturbed orphanage. They blame the foreign orphanage for her odd behavior and do their best to nurture her, but they wind up discovering that… oh, we won’t spoil it. But we don’t have to say much more than this picture does to tell you that this kid is really messed up. Esther was played by Isabelle Fuhrman, and the movie was the big break she’d been working hard for (at the age of 8). Afterward, she went on to be in The Hunger Games, After Earth, Don’t Let Me Go, and Dear Eleanor. Since she’s made the transition to an adult actor (she’s 20 now), she’s tried to aim for more scandalous projects, such as Masters of Sex, 1 Night, and her next horror movie (alongside Uma Thurman), Down a Dark Hall.
13. Mischa Barton
Haley Joel Osment wasn’t the only memorable kid that we met in The Sixth Sense. Remember this little girl? She’s one of the ghosts that haunts young Cole, trying to show him that she has a reason to linger after death. Cole discovers and reveals to the girls’ parents that her mother had been slowly poisoning her over years, resulting in her death. That little girl was played by Mischa Barton, who has gone on to have an incredible career! The stunning woman, now only at 31 years old, went on to have a leading role in The O.C. as Marissa Cooper. Since then, she’s been in a variety of smaller titles — rarely anything very good, but always well-paying and flaunting her sex appeal. Who would have thought this vomiting little girl would go on to be one of the most popular screen and theater actresses our modern age knows?
12. Daveigh Chase
But Aiden wasn’t really the creepy one from The Ring now, was he? We were much more creeped out by the young Samara, the innocent girl who was brutally murdered and thus turned into a murdering ghoulish fiend. Samara was played by Daveigh Chase when she was merely 12 years old — just old enough to handle the acting chops required for such a horrific role while too young to understand just how taxing an acting career could be. Nevertheless, Daveigh has had a great career. She spent the rest of her youth in high profile titles like Lilo & Stitch (both the movie and TV series), Oliver Beene, and Big Love. Since then, her career has petered out to include maybe one acting credit a year. This year, she incurred a lot of trouble when she rushed a near-dead man to an L.A. hospital and ditched him at the door. Daveigh was arrested for outstanding warrants, and word is that she’s gotten herself involved in some heavy drug problems.
11. Chloe Grace Moretz
This little lady has been blowing us away since she was a child, and we have to say that we were more amazed by her performances when she was younger than we have been as of late. Chloe Grace Moretz was only eight years old when she starred as one of the children in the remake of The Amityville Horror. The nightmarish movie that was somehow just as terrifying as its predecessor left us with goosebumps, and her performance as an impressionable little girl making friends with a murdered girl like her made us shudder. Since then, Chloe’s had a few more horrifying roles in Let Me In, Carrie, and Room 6. She’s done her best to keep acting and has taken every role that has come her way. Now, she’s got the popularity of Taylor Swift and is in titles like Neighbors 2: Sorority Uprising, The 5th Wave, and If I Stay.
10. Haley Joel Osment
While some horror movie aficionados would prefer to call the M. Night Shyamalan movie The Sixth Sense more of a psycho thriller, the rest of us are firmly stuck in the horror genre. The movie, which features ghosts of murdered souls haunting a small boy to help them finish their “unfinished business,” is pretty damn terrifying. No matter how old we were, we got goosebumps as soon as Cole saw the temperature dropping in his room. Cole was played by Haley Joel Osment, who’d gotten the role after already starring in Forrest Gump, Beauty and the Beast, and Murphy Brown. But he went on to have a great childhood career, with roles in A.I., Pay it Forward, and Secondhand Lions. Nowadays, he’s acting at his own leisurely pace (since he’s already earned the fortune of a lifetime). He’s most recently been on Silicon Valley, and we’re all curious to know more about his soon-to-release latest project: Izzy Gets the F*** Across Town.
9. Lindsey Haun
Remember Village of the Damned? It was a ’90s horror movie (which was actually a remake of an older horror movie by the same name) all about a town in which the children are all born as unfriendly aliens disguised as humans. Creepy, right? Especially when all the kids looked EXACTLY THE SAME. Lindsey Haun played creepy alien number one, also known as Mara Chaffee, but she’s gone on to be a much more distinctive and interesting actress. She’s had starring roles in True Blood, Shrooms, and The Color of Friendship (all wildly different movies, but we’re happy for her success). She’s already filmed two movies and an episode of Bones set to release this year, and two movies are on the horizon for next year. She’s glad to have continued acting past the very weird experience that was Village of the Damned and told Cosmo, “Child acting is weird. But somehow, I survived!”
8. Alex Vincent
We don’t really remember the original movie Child’s Play when we look at this picture, do we? All we think of is the nightmare on the left: CHUCKY. That horrible doll plagued us with horrible dreams and fears of our plush toys as a child. Even if we were adults when this movie came out, we were afraid to ever buy a child a doll again. But Chucky wasn’t the great actor to remember in this movie; Alex Vincent was. Alex played Andy Barclay, the kid who played with Chucky before he went crazy on him. Alex was only seven years old then and has had a rich life ever since the ending of the Child’s Play movies. Around the time he was 12, he stopped acting to have a normal childhood and go to school — but when he hit 27, he reentered the audition room. His recent career has been a bit more scant, with small and scattered roles, but you’re sure to see him in the revisit to the Child’s Play series that will come out later this year, Cult of Chucky (oh yeah, that’s happening).
7. Harvey Stephens
Remember this adorable smiling child? Those of you who are youngsters and only watch new horror movies probably don’t, though they know the character he played. Harvey Stephens was the original Damien Thorn in the ’70s version of The Omen, a horror movie about the birth of Satan. Damien was quite the handful for his parents, and we’re sure that young Harvey Stephens also managed to be quite cumbersome on set; he was, after all, an energetic 6-year-old when he made the movie. So what happened to Harvey? Well, he’s one of the few child actors on our list who didn’t continue pursuing an acting career! He did make a cameo in the recent remake of The Omen in 2006 but has pretty much avoided acting otherwise. So what’s he been up to? Well, nowadays… jail. Harvey attacked two cyclists that slowed him down while driving one day and beat them bloody, so he’s facing a couple months in jail to pay for the crime. Quite the devil indeed…
6. David Dorfman
The Ring was a creepy movie. We’re not talking about the sequel, which wound up being weirder and sillier than it was scary — we’re talking about the original. That movie was messed up. In the movie, a young boy (played by David Dorfman) watches a cursed tape, and his mother has seven days to try to figure out the curse in order to save his life. But within those seven days, some of the creepiest stuff happens to Aiden. We won’t spoil anything for you if you haven’t seen it but… just go watch it.
So what has David been doing since he wasn’t killed by a tiny girl crawling out of a TV? Well, he’s had occasional roles here and there but has largely quit acting for the time being. Actually, he chose to focus on his academics… A LOT. He got into UCLA when he was only 13 years old, then got into Harvard law school at 21. He’s currently practicing law at a firm in Hong Kong after helping the Philippines get tax credits for hosting motion-picture filming and helping the prosecution in the case of the Boston Marathon Bomber.
5. Oliver Robbins
Try to ignore the utterly horrifying clown doll in this picture as we remember the actor that had to suffer through the misery on set: Oliver Robbins. He played the young Robbie Freeling that was put through mental and physical torture at the hands of the titular character: the Poltergeist. Oliver was only eleven when the movie released, still new to the ways of Hollywood and all of the endless opportunities it provided to express creativity. He went on to star in the sequel to the horror film as well as a couple other titles (including Airplane 2: The Sequel) but stopped acting when he was 15. As an adult, he’s turned his focus to writing. While he’s already gotten a few solid credits under his belt, we’re anxious to see what becomes of his latest project: Devil’s Whisper, a horror-possession film which is set to release later this year.
4. Lina Leandersson
Remember the 2010 U.S. horror movie Let Me In? It was pretty good and all… but not nearly as good as the foreign film it was based on that released just two years prior, Let the Right One In. It’s the story of two alienated children becoming friends: one, a bullied and lonely boy and the other, a vicious vampiric girl that wants companionship for eternity. It’s a really creepy movie (that scene in the swimming pool is the stuff of NIGHTMARES). The peculiar lead was played by Lina Leandersson, a Swedish girl who has always had a passion for the arts. Since her groundbreaking role, she’s only been in two other movies: The Arbiter and Broken Hill Blues. So what’s she been doing? Leading the life of an ordinary child! She studied while living at home with her family and just recently enrolled in a performing arts school in Stockholm to study theater.
3. Ty Simpkins
This kid is rapidly becoming known as the Haley Joel Osment of his own time. Ty Simpkins has been working, almost literally, since birth as a baby in One Life to Live as well as Guiding Light, but didn’t really get to show off his acting chops until he became the starring lead in the horror movie that leaves us all quivering in fear just to think of, Insidious. The horror movie is hard to explain but essentially involves evil spirits of sorts that are trying to trap Ty Simpkins’ character in an ethereal world. Since his remarkable role, Ty has had overwhelming success in movies like Iron Man 3, Jurassic World, and of course, the sequel to Insidious. He’s slowed his pace in the last couple years but just barely; he’s soon to star in a horror-drama called Deliberation wherein his character murders his mother and sister. Mind you, he’s still a kid — barely 17!
2. Danny Lloyd
Danny Lloyd was only seven years old when he was cast to be the son, Danny, in Stanley Kubrick‘s take on the Stephen King novel The Shining. The child was so young, and Kubrick had such disturbing ideas for the film that he was worried about Danny, so the young boy was incredibly sheltered throughout filming to the point that he had no idea that the movie wound up being a horror film until years after the movie came out! Danny decided he wasn’t a big fan of acting after the experience and pretty much abandoned the industry. Lloyd found other passions: academia and science, in particular. He now lives a very simple life in Elizabethtown, Kentucky as a professor of biology at a local community college. He keeps his childhood career mostly to himself since it did little to define who he became. But he’d better be careful: you know what they say about all work and no play…
1. Linda Blair
There’s no mistaking this face. Sure, there are a lot of disturbing images that can sort of run together from horror film to horror film (especially these days, when every movie seems to focus on the scare of someone bending the wrong way or a creepy face appearing out of nowhere), but The Exorcist was one of a kind. It was a simple story that needed few bells or whistles to prove its fear factor, and it’s still a legend in horror storytelling today. Linda Blair played Regan, the child who needed some good exorcising. Her name is one you’d likely not forget; even if you’re young, you’ve got to know that she was one of the star actors of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Though she was also in the sequel to The Exorcist, she almost managed to guest star in almost every major TV show and landed at least one popular movie every couple of years that built her legacy. And she’s still acting today! Her next project will release later this year: another horror-drama about a young girl who finds a relic left from another young girl who mysteriously left it behind before her death.