Horror fans have grown accustomed to particular tropes over the years, but they continue to jump at one: the creepy kid. Like any good monster, though, scary movies need more than just the idea of a potentially evil child for the character to freak out audiences - they also need a talented young actor who can bring the unsettling figure to life. Although some horror movie kids don't always scare viewers, when a great child actor is paired with a fantastic role, they make you think twice before turning out the lights at night.
The creepiest kids from horror films have little in common beyond being children in scary movies. Some of them are possessed, others are the Devil incarnate, and occasionally, they're just spooky on their own, with little to no involvement from a supernatural entity.
William Friedkin's 1973 horror classic The Exorcist centers on Regan MacNeil, a young girl possessed by the demon Pazuzu. Linda Blair's performance was so effective that just the sight of Regan's face - removed of all context - is enough to freak out people.
Watching Regan's body be taken over by a demon is unsettling, and hearing her tell Father Karras that his mother is servicing the members of the underworld certainly doesn't ease the discomfort.
Daveigh Chase as Samara in 2002's adaptation of The Ring is one of the highlights of creepy kid cinema. The audience sees just enough of this VHS ghost to stay afraid of her until the film's finale, but not so much that you get used to her presence.
Everything about Samara is terrifying - especially how she crawls out of the television.
Miko Hughes's role as Gage Creed in 1989's Pet Sematary is one of the creepiest performances given by a child. While it could be silly to watch a 3-year-old take down an old man with a scalpel, the way the little boy moves through the scene gives it a herky-jerky supernatural feel that's downright disturbing.
Some of the creepiest kids in horror are the ones who wear burlap masks. Just look at Óscar Casas as Tomás the ghost in 2007's The Orphanage.
Tomás is not malevolent like a lot of film ghosts, but just the sight of him is enough to give you chills for the rest of the night.