I will tell you, in recent years, the “killer kid” movie has truly become a favorite sub-genre of horror films for me. The reason for this is simple, it poses a great ethical question every time you watch one. Would you be able to kill a child if it meant saving your own life or the life of someone you love? That is incredibly heavy stuff to encroach upon, and when it is done well, it can make for a truly unsettling movie experience.
Not all of the movies on this list will pose that question, but all of them have one thing in common: Psycho kids going on killing sprees. When you think about a killer like Jason Vorhees coming at you, nothing would even make you hesitate in burying a hatchet in his skull. But what if you replace Jason Vorhees with a seven year old girl? Yeah, sorta messes you up to even think about, right? Well, be prepared to be messed up, because this list has movies FILLED with moments like that.
This one was a real gem for me because I had no idea what was in store for me. From the generic name of the film to the fact that I had never heard about it, this is one I almost never watched, and I am truly glad I did. Rather than having the kids be psychos just to be psychos, there seems to be an airborn fever that turns the kids homocidal in this film. And it is a slow burn to get there. You sense something is wrong, and it grows and grows, until it explodes in what I will only call “the sledding scene”.
Oh, the sledding scene. *Shudders
Word of advice: When kids that look like this ask you to go sledding, say NO!
And unlike some other “killer kids” movies that sort of ram the idea that these kids are evil down your throat from the first frame, this one really is a wonderfully slow build to it. But once it ignites, it is a 4 alarm fire.
The Children is well written, wonderfully acted and frankly, too few people have seen it. I can understand if the name or idea turned you away, but give it a chance. You might just be surprised how much you like it. And this one gets special props for taking place on Christmas. How ballsy is that? And I loved the end of this film. A truly chilling shot that will lodge itself into your subconscious.
Actually, now that I think about, most of these movies have great endings, which is rare in horror.
While She Was Out
Alright, a few of the movies on this list will not feature “kids” in the strictest sense of the word. In this film, they are supposed to be teenagers (even though Lukas Haas is 36 years old, but that fact is somehow easily ignored once you get into the film) . While She Was Out features Kim Basinger as a Mom who has to go out and get a last minute Christmas gift (Note how the theme of Christmas runs through a few of these films. I would get into the deep psychological reasoning for this connection, but I don’t want to bore you and I am too lazy.) And she happens across some rather unpleasant teens.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, they have to kill her because she saw them kill a mall security guard. It is the trickle down theory of killing. Anyway, madness ensues as they hunt her through the woods like a pack of feral animals.
So basically, Linkin Park hunts down Vicky Vale for sport.
Thing is, these punks had no idea the kitten that they were toying with had some SERIOUS CLAWS! Wait, was that the tagline on the poster, because it should have been?
So this one has a very grindhouse feel to the way the main character gets stronger and stronger. And how, as she acquires that strength, she is forced to do some things she would have never dreamt, but had to do to survive. A theme we will see with a few other films on this list as well.
Alright, this one doesn’t so much win for execution, as it does for concept. Imagine if you kidnapped a kid for ransom who just happened to be Damien from The Omen. That is the concept in this film, and though it isn’t as awesome in execution as it sounds, it is still a decent, creepy flick that centers around a young child with the penchant to do some wonderfully evil stuff.
And in this film, it is not even so much what he actually does, as how he gets inside each of his captor’s heads, psychologically pitting them against each other. It is a fun film to watch just to see this kids ability to play the adults around him like puppets.
The kid comes across as equal parts douche and demon, which is fine I suppose.
The coolest aspects of Whisper are the fact that the kid plays off of their exact insecurities. He plays child role to the troubled woman, and plays the two thugs against each other, for her. In the end it gets a little convoluted and loses some of its steam, but it was still a wholly original take on the killer kid idea.
Alright, let me warn you, this movie beats you up. There are not too many films I would say do that, so if I am telling you that, just approach it with caution. We are at the section of the list where the gloves come off and no punches are pulled. Eden Lake might actually need to be added to this list now that I think about it.
Eden Lake is about a couple on a weekend getaway, who are just looking for some down time. Secretly, we find out that the lead of the film, played by the ever-awesome Michael Fassbender, intends to propose to his girlfriend during this getaway. But things do not go as planned when they encounter a rather vile group of children who seem to want nothing more than to torment these two into submission.
They may not look like much, but these kids will scar you for life, pun intended. Man, I gotta stop doing that.
Just like the other films, it starts slow, but once they set their sites on this couple (Fassbender goes Magneto on their dog) the movie does not let you come up for air. And every time something twisted happens, the bar is pushed further. This is the kind of film where you will find yourself holding your breath while the lead is hiding, because you do not want her to get caught.
But know, you will not walk away form this movie unaffected. This movie really skewed the reaction in my gut when I see a cluster of kids together who look like they’re up to no good. I used to relate to them. Now I get slightly scared. Only because their capacity for cruelty in this film is almost unmatched on this list. I won’t say too much, because I know only seven of you saw this gem, but the fire scene and the barbed wire scene had my wincing.
Notice how Meg from The White Stripes just sits back and lets Magneto get tortured. Man, that is SO Meg White.
For me, this is the pinnacle of killer kid movies, done so well that it all feels terribly plausible. And I will say, the ending to this film is so insane and dark that when the film finally faded to black, I sat there, slack jawed and silent, for a good five minutes, just letting it all sink in.
I will warn everyone now, the next selection on this list is full of major spoilers for the film, and the film is amazing, so if you have not seen it, I suggest skipping ahead to the honorable mentions section.