It’s that time again for all of the ghosts and goblins to come out. All of those saccharine wussies can have their Easter bunnies and their Santa Claus, but October belongs to the dark and twisted souls who happen to enjoy a whole lot of chocolate and candy corn instead of candy canes and Cadbury eggs, it’s time for Halloween.
Which also means it’s time to take a look at some really scary children. Horror films have relied on scary kids for a very long time, and they keep getting more and more terrifying with what technology is able to add to a filmmaker’s imagination.
More often than not, little girls are at the center of the horror. They’re either being hunted down, getting the bejesus scared out of them, or they’re like a lot of the girls on this list: the cause of the terror. There’s no sugar and spice here, only bubbles, toils, and troubles. Here are 15 Kids Too Young For Their Horror Film Roles.
15. Perla Haney-Jardine
Many names on this list either seldom worked after their big role or their star is still rising, so you might not have seen a lot of them just yet. Seemingly, Perla Haney-Jardine’s star is rising, and at just 20 years old, she has been part of a few high profile films already – Kill Bill Vol 2, Spider-Man 3, and most notably as a young Lisa Brennan-Jobs in Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs.
But before that, she starred in the 2005 film Dark Water, a remake of the 2002 Japanese horror film, which in turn was based on the short story, Floating Water, by the writer of The Ring trilogy, Koji Suzuki.
That is a lot of horror pedigree for this thriller, which saw Jardine star as Natasha, an imaginary friend to Cecilia, Dahlia’s daughter (Jennifer Connelly). Like most imaginary friends, Natasha seems harmless at first, but this is a horror flick after all, and there is nothing imaginary about the ghostly Natasha.
14. Jennifer Connelly
Hollywood needs a lot more women like Jennifer Connelly, that’s just a fact. The raven-haired stunner can do it all, and she has in a variety of sprawling films like Career Opportunities, Labyrinth, A Beautiful Mind, The Blood Diamond, and Requiem For A Dream. Never mind just how much of a gorgeous woman she is, she’s a classy woman that any actor should aspire to be like, how often do you hear of a scandal involving her? Exactly.
In her very first starring role, way back in 1985, Connelly was a female version of Ben, and starred in Phenomena; directed by one of the masters of terror, Dario Argento. Connelly played Jennifer Corvino, the new student at a Swiss boarding school who has an issue with sleepwalking.
She inadvertently bears witness to a murder while sleepwalking and gets lost in the woods while trying to escape. She winds up with a unique telepathic connection with flesh-eating bugs and uses that connection to help find the serial killer. Bonus points for the film inspiring the old video game, Clock Tower.
13. Drew Barrymore
Nowadays, Drew Barrymore has fulfilled her destiny, adding to her family’s legacy in entertainment by becoming one of the Queens of Hollywood, but it wasn’t always that way for the little blonde cutie that first won our hearts in E.T. Even when she was as young as nine years old, the girl was a bit of a…Firestarter (sorry, had no choice).
While she was growing up, Drew, at nine years old, played pyrokinetic child Charlie McGee in the Steven King adaptation, Firestarter. McGee is the daughter of two people, Andy McGee (David Keith) and Vicky Tomlinson (Heather Locklear) that took part in a study in college and both developed psychic abilities, and eventually had Charlie.
This all leads to the government wanting to find Charlie and harness her abilities as a weapon. The movie is a pretty cool precursor to X-Men. But if Steven King told the story, and instead of a benevolent telepath teaching mutant kids, they’d always just be on the run from the government that experimented on them.
12. Jodelle Ferland
Jodelle Ferland’s stock has been on the rise as of late, starring in the last two Twilight movies as Bree Tanner, and as Patience in The Cabin In The Woods; which if you haven’t seen, please do so now, it’s the best horror-comedy movie you’ll ever see. We’ll wait.
Ok, done watching Jodelle’s character assist in terrorizing Chris Hemsworth and company? If you enjoyed that, perhaps you’d like to see a little Jodelle as a psychotic succubus hellbent on destroying the world in Case 39. The movie, also starring Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper, features Ferland as Lilith, a demon that feeds on emotion.
But the role that might be the most “scaretastic” would be Alessa Gillespie from Silent Hill. In a lot of ways the game series is far scarier than Resident Evil, if not for the gameplay being completely confounding. But Ferland played Alessa in the film adaptation, the main character of the series.
11. Daveigh Chase
Every so often, a horror flick and the girl that stars in it take the world by storm. Of course, there’s Linda Blair in The Exorcist and Heather O’Rourke in Poltergeist that immediately come to mind, but in the 21st century, we have Daveigh Chase and The Ring.
In the film, when you watch some spooky video, you die in seven days. That’s the whole concept of The Ring, the remake of the Japanese horror flick, Ringu. During those seven days, the horrible images from the tape begin to appear in the real world and then a psychotic Japanese Yurei (a ghost being kept from a peaceful afterlife) comes out of the TV and kills you.
For the first film in the series, Samara was played by Chase and the creepy little girl won an MTV movie award for best villain for her performance, which along with Gore Verbinski’s directing and use of atmosphere over gore, made The Ring one of the first memorable films of the new millennium.
10. Danielle Harris
Michael Myers, more than Freddy or Jason, is the quintessential horror movie monster of our time. Pre-dating both of those franchises, the original Halloween movie saw Michael as a serial killer murdering babysitters. Is he a supernatural being, evil incarnate, or just a nut stalking his sister, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)?
The nature of evil might have never been more prevalent than in the series’ fourth instalment, The Return Of Michael Myers. With Curtis unable to return, a new character was created: her daughter, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) was the person being stalked by her uncle this time around.
Harris would return, along with her seemingly immortal uncle, in The Curse Of Michael Myers, this time as a mute, due to the trauma she suffered in the preceding instalment. Harris thought she would have been helping Michael in Curse, but plans changed to make her haunted instead of haunter, while Uncle Mike continued his rampage. Harris herself would go on to cement her scream queen status in films like Urban Legend and The Hatchet series.
9. Creepy Girls Club
This article wouldn’t feel complete without highlighting the head members of the Creepy Girls Club.
First up, the gaggle of ghoulish girls who jump rope in the Dreamworld to signify a certain child-eating, nightmare-inducing monster is coming in A Nightmare On Elm Street. If you ever feel like scaring the piss out of a little kid, just start singing the little diddy: “one, two, Freddy’s coming for you…”
The creepy girl vibe and mantra has been done so much that even the WWE used the trope before way back in 2000, when a similar group of creepy girls hailed the return/debut of the American version of the Undertaker – “We should all be evil, now back from the dead…he’s here,” evoking both the girls from Nightmare, but Carol Ann from Poltergeist as well. Fans might dog on this version of the Undertaker, but the pop he got this night was in no small part thanks to the creeptastic intro video.
Lastly, certainly not least, the Grady twins from The Shining. Possibly for the first time ever, someone took the notion that twins could be a little jarring; bloodied them up and put them on screen intoning, “Come play with us, Danny…forever and ever,” making sure that kids all of over the world who stay in a hotel think twice about turning corners.
8. Linda Blair
If there was a standard bearer of creepy little girls, Linda Blair is on top of the food chain. There were other girls that came before her (one is covered elsewhere on this list), but Linda blew them all out of the water. She has been the template ever since for horror films involving little girls. She’s the head OG of the genre.
Why is The Exorcist held in such high regard even now, over 40 years after its release? Because it is still that good, that disturbing, and still downright terrifying, and most of that is a credit to how amazing Blair’s performance is as possessed 12-year-old, Regan MacNeil, complete with upside-down crab walks, head turns, and crucifixes (oh my!).
Blair’s start as an actress was filled with roles she was way too young for, but The Exorcist takes the whole cake and shoves it down your throat with the traumatic experiences she endures in the film. Thanks to how genre-defining the film was, mixed with how PC the film industry has gotten, we will likely never see a performance like this again.
7. Isabelle Fuhrman
Every now and again, when the unbearable tragedy of losing a child happens, the parents might decide to adopt a child to shower it with love. This is how Orphan begins, and unfortunately for Kate and John Coleman, their third child is born stillborn and they decide to adopt young Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a nine-year-old Russian girl.
Things seem innocent enough at first, but quickly devolve when Kate becomes suspicious of her newly adopted daughter, watching her be a little more sexual than just about every other nine-year-old her age. With their oldest son, Daniel’s suspicions of Esther rising, things go south really fast and the little girl goes on a murderous rampage.
The scariest part of Orphan (besides Fuhrman’s performance), is the fact that a lot this story actually could happen. (SPOILER WARNING) Esther was born with hypopituitarism, a condition which can cause someone to stop growing and forever look like a little girl or boy. It also might drive someone insane like Esther.
6. Chloë Grace Moretz & Kirsten Dunst
We all love vampires, right? The bloodsucking fiends have been all over cinemas since Max Schreck scared fans way back in 1922’s Nosferatu. Just like some old school Grindhouse pictures, this entry is a double-feature.
Long before Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, we had Anne Rice and her quintessential Interview With The Vampire. Kirsten Dunst in a star-defining performance as Claudia, the young girl-turned-vampire by Lestat. Dunst’s ability to captivate the audience amongst giants like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt made her performance the most memorable in the film.
Almost 15 years later, Chloë Grace Moretz was able to grab audiences’ attention again in Let Me In, a remake of the Swedish film, Let The Right One In. She plays Abby in the movie, a young vampire who befriends a 12-year-old boy victimized by bullying.
5. Amber Heard
A different kind of horror movie, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane took a lot of time to come to the States. Filmed way back in 2005, but due to the failure of Grindhouse, the similarly themed flick was sold by Weinstein‘s and was eventually bought back by them in 2013.
Amber Heard is the titular character; a high school outsider who happened grow a bit during the summer, and is now is the object of a lot of teenage boys’ affections. She is invited to a party by one of these jerks and agrees to go, but only if she could bring her friend, Emmet. After convincing a putz who was bothering Emmet to jump off a roof into a pool, the kid obviously misses the pool…and you can guess he doesn’t make it.
A series of events unfolds after this, revealing Mandy to be a complete nut job who has planned for a lot of mayhem to ensue, along with Emmet. The film, while over the top, showcases a different kind of horror, one that could, if circumstances were right, actually happen.
4. AnnaSophia Robb
Girls have been hunted and stalked by madmen and monsters; they’ve also been the source of evil themselves. But they’ve never gotten the chance to actually bring the plagues. Some of the locals in Louisiana believe that a young girl, Loren McConnell is to blame – she is either to blame or some sort of god.
At 14 years old, McConnell is played by AnnaSophia Robb, in a stark difference from prior roles as Violet Beauregard in the poorly received Wonka remake, and Opal and Leslie in the heart-string pulling films Because Of Winn-Dixie and Bridge To Terabithia respectively.
Is Loren causing the plagues, or is it the town she lives in? Hilary Swank’s character, Katherine, is sent to the town as a Christian missionary to try and dispel the hysteria that is circling both the town of Haven and McConnell. But things go a little more than awry when rivers flow with blood, kids have their heads shaven to deal with lice, and more and more boils start to appear.
3. Emily Perkins & Sophia Lillis
When little kids in the town of Derry, Maine begin to go missing, a group of kids led by Bill Denbrough decide to head into the city’s sewer system to lay waste to Pennywise, the Dancing Clown, and avenge not just all of the missing kids, but Bill’s brother, Georgie in the process.
Steven King’s novel It is once again gripping the country in fear, thanks to the new film. Heck, even the now comical-to-watch mini-series from 1990 is receiving new-found glory. While there is a very graphic and sexual scene left out of both adaptations (thank goodness), one of the group is still at the center of the proceedings, Beverly Marsh, played by Emily Perkins in ’90 and Sophia Lillis in the new update.
Take the clown out of the equation and Bev is still too young for the abuse she endures, no one should have to deal with the creeps she has to, at any age. Her schoolmates purport all kinds of rumors that she is promiscuous and her father is legit sexually abusing her.
2. Christina Ricci
What is creepier the fact that Christina Ricci became an alt-goth goddess after The Addams Family, or that at ten years old, men were already falling for her because of The Addams Family? C’mon fellas she was only ten at the time!
Throughout the mid to late 90s and early aughts, Ricci became a bit of a pinup girl for the alternative crowd, thanks to movies like Buffalo ’66, Sleepy Hollow, and The Opposite Of Sex. But the heaps of praise and affection all began when she played Wednesday Addams in the big-screen versions of both The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values.
Both movies featured her being precociously dark. If they were horror movies, she’d be even creepier than she already was. In a lot of ways, it is still her most popular role, so much so that when someone photoshopped her head to Morticia’s body, rumors immediately began that she was playing her in a new remake. But since these films were played for comedy, the pouty-faced pre-teen was able to capture the hearts of millions of adoring friends asking if Girl Scout cookies were made from real Girl Scouts.
1. Patty McCormack
How do you deal with the possibility that your daughter might be a sociopath and, worse yet, might have already killed a few people? Meet another member of our OG of creepy girls, little Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) in The Bad Seed from 1956. Since the film was made by a major studio and based on a novel, the series of events that unfold do seem tame, but they’re enough to set Rhoda off, and McCormack’s portrayal has been revered ever since.
After losing a penmanship contest (yes, a penmanship contest) to a little boy, the boy is found dead at a picnic and Rhoda was the last person to have seen him alive. While most kids might have been traumatized, Rhoda is completely unfazed. Rhoda’s mother, Christine, laments the fact that Rhoda is adopted and the biological child of a serial killer, which means there is no hope for her.
The film was considered so traumatic, that during the credits, McCormack is spanked by her movie mom, Nancy Kelly to alleviate some of the tension of the movie.
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