Killer kid movies are probably not what you want to see right now if, like some of us, you’re forced to stay-at-home with them, but these are great to watch if only to warn you against your ordinarily angelic rugrat’s evil plans.
As coronavirus continues to keep the country shut down, otherwise good parents have had to step up to the plate and become amateur teachers and class monitors since schools are closed until further notice.
Having teachers control your spawn might be taken for granted, but having to deal with them personally during working hours every single day of the week makes you wonder who’s really in control.
Filmmakers have never underestimated the evil side of kids and have given them enough screen time to create a whole subgenre.
Today we will look at 10 films, some new some old, that give kids the upper hand. So watch them if you dare and perhaps understand that the little devils are always scheming your demise, but keep you alive because they have nowhere else to go.
Here are 10 films that I believe will make you second-guess continuing your bloodline.
Let’s start with a little-known, but disturbing classic:
1. Home Movie (2008)
The found-footage format has long run its course, but 12 years ago, filmmakers were trying to recapture the chills The Blair Witch Project evoked so well.
Director Christopher Denham did just that in this creepy kids film.
The story is basically a video epistolary of David and Clare Poe who decide to take their twins and move to upstate New York. Everything seems fine in their milquetoast environment, but the twins are a bit off and have taken to stapling living things to trees.
The family plummets into a nightmare with parents versus kids in this chiller Dread Central called “better written, more realistic and more disturbing than the forefather of the modern found footage horror movie, The Blair Witch Project. In fact, Home Movie might just be the tautest, best acted, most tightly written and disturbing ‘found film’ ever made!”
2. The Bad Seed
This is probably the origin of the whole “kids are evil genre.” This 1956 black and white film follows Rhoda (Patty McCormack), a spoiled brat in pigtails who has everyone fooled thinking she is the epitome of grace and good manners. Everyone that is except her mother who knows Rhoda has an evil side.
When Rhoda doesn’t get what she wants she takes matters into her own hands by whatever means necessary. With elements of black humor and an unsettling performance by McCormack The Bad Seed is a must-see for film lovers thinking about starting a family.
You can rent and stream The Bad Seed on Amazon Prime.
3. The Children (2008)
Tom Shankland has created an underrated masterpiece here with The Children and it’s a bit more timely than I’m comfortable with.
Two families are taking a little break and head to an English estate during Christmastime. Each couple has brought their children for a fun-filled weekend of holiday fun. But the kids contract a weird virus that turns them into maniacal killers. One by one their parents are plucked off in sometimes bloody ways.
The Children was a part of the After Dark/8 Films to Die For collective of films that were deemed “too scary” for American audiences.
This film is one of the most thrilling, edge-of-your-seat white knucklers that hooks you in with a crafty slow burn then releases its power in a blast of suspense and directorial magnificence. You might need a seat belt. Even the trailer requires you to confirm your age.
“You brought them into this world, they will take you out.” How’s that for a tagline?
Rent on Amazon.
4. The Omen (1976)
If you think Rhoda in The Bad Seed was evil personified, meet Damien, the actual son of the Devil.
Politician and new father Robert (Gregory Peck) fails to tell his wife that their biological child died during childbirth and he has adopted another baby named Damien instead. His wife Katherine (Lee Remick) becomes concerned when his nanny hangs herself in front of hundreds of guests at his fifth birthday party. A mysterious new nanny moves in and with her a hellhound disguised as a Rotweiller.
Things go from bad to worse as Damien’s influence causes wild animals to attack, causes his mother to miscarry by pushing her down the stairs and seems to be behind several deaths of anyone getting close to discovering he is the Antichrist.
The Omen was made at a time when devil possession was popular among horror fans. The only difference is this one was genuinely terrifying because of Damien’s invincibility. When your dad is the Devil, throwing your mother out of her 10th-floor hospital window is merely child’s play.
Rent on Prime or watch on the Starz app.
5. Village of the Damned (1995)
John Carpenter took inspiration for this movie from the 1960 film of the same name but set his in California rather than a British village. The film was not a critical or even a box office success, but it belongs here because it can get under your skin.
The entire town of Midwich in Marin, California blacks out at 10 pm one night and upon waking six hours later find that 10 women are suddenly pregnant. Each woman gives birth to one child at the same time on the same day, except one whose child is still born.
The kids all carry with them the same characteristics, white hair, light eyes, and no personalities. Crossing them or provoking them results in some kind of psychic link which leads to people getting harmed or worse.
This isn’t one of Carpenter’s best works, he’s said he made it because of a contractual obligation, but it does have some genuinely scary moments thanks to fine performances by the kids.
Plus we get acting flair from Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, and Mark Hamill. Not to mention a great score by Carpenter himself.
Rent and watch on Prime.
Here is an example of a true story happening after the movie was made.
Having apparently not seen The Omen, couple Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) decide to adopt a cute little girl. Falling for the sweet charms of little Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), the couple take her home and everything seems fine. That is until Esther interrupts an intimate encounter between husband and wife, exhibiting more knowledge about sex than perhaps a nine-year-old should.
The Bad Seed also doesn’t exist in this movie universe because unbeknownst to Kate and clueless John, sweet Esther destroys anything that gets between her and her desires without them being none the wiser.
If you haven’t seen this modern masterpiece, try not to explore too many plot details as it will completely ruin the ending which is so uncomfortable social services should have been required at every screening.
Also, a real case of this movie’s plot actually happened back in 2019, ten years after this film was made.
Rent and watch on Prime.
7. The Brood (1979)
Again, killer kids were very popular in the 70s, but no one could bring to the screen such a nightmare vision of this genre than David Cronenberg. The director had just finished Rabid and was about to start on Scanners when this gem was released.
Oliver Reed plays Dr. Hal Raglan, a doctor of questionable ethics who tries to get his patients to overcome past trauma with psychoplasmic therapy, a form of psychological transference where traumatic events are released through suppressed emotions.
One patient of Raglan is extremely disturbed from events that forged her childhood and she has become unstable. Her estranged husband is desperately trying to gain full custody of their daughter Candice, but hits a snag when small murderous child-like entities dressed in snowsuits appear whenever she is around.
This is pure Cronenberg, a man who seems to dig deep into his imagination to personally challenge himself to put on screen what would seem impossible to those less clever.
Rent and watch on Prime.
8. The Prodigy (2019)
From the files of The Omen, this modern offering of a child seemingly under the influence of supernatural forces was mostly overlooked last year. However, it is one of those films that gets more disturbing as you think about it.
As with most of these movies, mom and dad, in this case Sarah and John Blume, are the parents of a creepy kid, this time Miles. He is showing signs of rapid intelligence which is something to be proud of, that is, until his behavior suddenly changes on his eighth birthday. Miles becomes violent and unpredictable.
A disturbing trip to the therapist doesn’t go as planned and suddenly hints of the supernatural exhibit themselves to Miles’s mother.
This is another underrated movie that is slightly hotter than a slow burn, but by the end, you don’t realize that your jaw is agape.
Rent and watch on Prime.
9. Brightburn (2019)
Part comic book superhero story, part horror movie, Brightburn takes both genres to the extreme. Make no mistake this isn’t your grandfather’s Superman, the gore and violence in this film is literally through the roof.
Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer are saddened that any attempts at having a child have failed, until one day a mysterious light falls from the sky and they discover a child inside. They name him Brandon and he seems like the perfect kid. But upon reaching puberty Brandon begins to exhibit a darker side which Tori suspects is malicious.
Her instincts are right as people who cross Brandon are violently killed.
As mentioned before this film’s R rating is written in blood and won’t sit well for those who are squeamish. Still, the premise is original and Elizabeth Banks gives a performance that should have garnered some sort of award last year.
Watch this on the Starz app or buy from Amazon VOD.
10. Case 39 (2009)
Normally we get Renée Zellweger fending off the gentleman callers in exceptional rom-coms rather than kids in underrated horror films. But here we are.
This movie didn’t get the respect it deserved when it was released. Luckily you can revisit it since you have all this extra time on your hands.
Emily Jenkins (Zellweger) is a social worker with too many cases on her hands but decides to take another one involving 10-year-old Lilith (Jodelle Ferland) whose parents tried to stuff her into a lit oven.
Always the empath, Jenkins decides to bring Lilith into her own home until another family can foster her. But Lilith is not who she appears to be and suddenly stuffing her into a hot oven doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
Case 39 came and went at the theater, but thanks to great performances by the leads, this one is an excellent addition to this list and a perfect one to close out your binge.
Rent this one on Prime.
Have You Made It This Far?
If so, you might be swearing at me for excluding some other movie choices.
I will include some honorable mentions below but please if you have a killer child film you think should have been included here, leave it in the comments below.
The Good Son
Children of the Corn
Children of the Damned
Twilight Zone: The Movie: “It’s a Good Life”