A couple days ago I posed the question to some of my readers, “why are we, as an audience, so scared of kids in horror movies?” After seeing The Children, I was genuinely terrified of little kids, how they smile, how they look off into the distance with an emotionless expression and it got me thinking. Two people responded to my question, one of them took a whole new approach to it (I will post his answer later) and the other was Rachel Fariss. I think she really nailed it on this one and it's open to much discussion. I let her make this post so here is her answer:
“Guest poster RachsMedia here, of Rach's Media Opinions. Rick has kindly allowed me to post a discussion on children in horror. Actually it's less a discussion, more a collection of musings and opinions from yours truly. The question I'm asking is what is it that makes kids so creepy? I've decided that the answer to that question depends on what horror movie we're talking about. See, there's a few different ways to make a child scary. I'm going to go through some examples throw some ideas around about what's scary about each.
1. The Advanced Intelligence Children
These are the children that can outsmart or possibly control adults. The best example of this is The Village of the Damned. These creepy, glowing-eyed rascals are too clever for their own good. So what makes them creepy? Lines like this don't help:
"Why do you think your own survival depends upon emotion from us? Should we pity you? Empathize with your plight?" - Mara Chaffee
I think what makes these kids creepy is that they personify a fear that many parents deal with. "Are my kids going to be emotionally stunted? And what happens when I can't teach them anymore? Will they leave me for dead?".
2. Genuinely Evil Child
Here I'm talking about kids that understand that they're committing atrocities and are happy with that. Some good examples of this are Damien from The Omen, Henry from The Good Son and Micheal from Halloween. The images of these nasties go against the commonly held notion that children are innocents. They are atrocities, violations of our preconceived ideas. Hence, creepy as all hell.
3. Accidentally Evil Child
These are children that commit evil due to an external force. Regan from The Exorcist is probably the best known of these, but the one I want to discuss is the more recent example of The Children. These kids are suffering from an illness that causes them to take delight in murdering the adults around them. The idea is chilling. No matter what you do, no matter how well you raise them, they could still turn on you. There are scenes where the motherly, nurturing instinct is crushed (I mean proper crushed) by the survival instinct. *shudder*
4. Evil Infants that still require nurturing.
Two examples spring instantly to mind, Rosemary's Baby and Grace. In Rosemary's Baby, Rosemary finds herself with Satan’s bun in the oven. In Grace, Madeline wills her stillborn baby back to life, only to find that she doesn't require breast milk so much as breast. The intensely creepy moments in both these films are the moments when you realize that both of them have every intention of caring for their little monsters and raising them to adulthood. The scariest things the infants do is tap into the maternal instincts of some very strong women.
That's what I got so far. Feel free to get the discussion going on anything I've missed or anything you disagree with. Thanks for reading and thanks to Rick for allowing me to guest-post :)”
I want to thank Rachel for going out of her way to make this post and for providing me with some images. I also want to take this opportunity to say… if you want to make a guest post, please, feel free to contact me.
Follow Rachel on Twitter here.
Check out Rachel’s blog here.