Children are the embodiment of innocence and dependence, which is why they are so effective in horror movies. When we see a monster, we can accept that they are meant to be scary and our brains know how to process that, but kids are different.
A sweet little child is a lot more horrifying as they're unexpected. You'd fundamentally never expect them to turn on you, or even be capable of turning on you. Children don't look frightening, so it is disturbing when they are contaminated by something evil.
That's why there are so many effective horrors that introduce children as either the primary antagonist or a series issue the heroes have to overcome. It's also why so many use children's toys or music to unsettle the viewer - it's all the same source of fear in the end.
But which terrorising kids in horror movies are the most memorable?
10. Pet Sematary (1989)
Although remade in 2019, the original adaption of Stephen King’s chiller is still incredibly scary. This is largely due to a great performance by the young Miko Hughes who played the little boy Gage.
Gage’s death is every parent’s worst nightmare. His father’s decision to bury him in the Pet Sematary, despite seeing what happened to Church, is understandable as you can feel his utter desperation to see his son again. His mother’s joy at seeing him again is quickly contrasted with her horror at what he has become.
A large part of what makes him so frightening is when you realise how different he is to the sweet little boy at the start of the film. The way he kills Jud is horrible and not something that you could ever imagine a three-year-old doing.
After his father has injected him with the lethal dose of morphine you can see his last remnants of hope fading and incredible guilt as his son staggers away from him still muttering in a child’s voice.