To celebrate the theatrical release of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Main picture) on 1st January FilmJuice takes a look ten child stars who swapped their innocence and charm for creepy roles that had us losing many a night’s sleep …
Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) The Sixth Sense, 1999
Haley Joel Osment’s cuteness might have dwindled in recent years but back in 1999 he was possibly the most famous child actor on earth. But unlike most kiddy superstars, Osment’s reputation was heavily indebted to his ability to convey strange and slightly insecure characters. Remember Spielberg’s AI? A forgettable sci-fi flick, but a wonderfully weird performance from the young star all the same. However, Osment’s finest hour came with his Oscar nominated role alongside Bruce Willis as a young child who can communicate with the spirits of the dead.
Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd) The Shining, 1980
Who could forget the famous shot of young Danny Torrance riding his tricycle through the spooky corridors of a derelict hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece The Shining? Suspected of possessing extra-sensory perception, the young boy begins to have horrific and terrifying premonitions about the goings on in the isolated hotel where his father works as an off-season caretaker.
Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase) The Ring, 2002
Although the American remake of the Japanese original lost much of the original’s shock factor, both films shared the same creepily compelling image of a young woman slowly crawling out of an old television set. (Played in the English language version by Daveigh Chase.) The Ring unravels the tale of a young journalist (Naomi Watts) who strives to uncover the mystery behind a videotape which seems to mean a death sentence to any poor soul who views its content.
Regan (Linda Blair) The Exorcist, 1973
If we were looking for the scariest child horror character of all time, then the demonically possessed Regan (played by Linda Blair) would surely be a contender for the blood soaked crown. After toying around with a Ouija board, the young Regan quickly appears to show signs of possession and suddenly becomes plagued with violent outbursts. The Exorcist is a shocker from the era of classic horrors – and one that still has the power to chill and thrill decades on.
Nameless Italian Child Rec, 2007
Rec is an intelligent Spanish horror that is particularly memorable for its portrayal of zombie-fied children. A television reporter and his camera follow a group of firemen into a dark apartment building believing that they might be able to capture a decent story. However when the doors close, they discover something much more terrifying … a group of children who have been infected with a disease that turns them into rabid cannibals. The most memorable moment occurs when a cute little Italian child is bitten by an infected dog and within no time at all, bolts from her mother’s arms into the dark complex with a piercing shriek. Her later appearance is unexpected to say the least. Rec is cattle prod horror at its very best.
Simón (Roger Prícep) The Orphanage, 2007
If Guillermo Del Torro’s The Orphanage can teach us one thing, it is that we should keep a better eye on our children. Thanks to Del Torro, we also now know that there is little more frightening than a small child wearing a potato sack on his head.
The Grady Twins (Lisa and Louise Burns) The Shining, 1980
Another creepy credit for Kubrick here: When little Danny first peers through a hotel key hole and finds the Grady Twins staring back at him, the audience is introduced to these disturbing and enigmatic sisters. Ironically, when their hacked corpses actually appear on screen, the images are nowhere near as disturbing as their first ghostly appearance witnessed through the key hole.
Gage Creed (Miko Hughes) Pet Sematary, 1989
Gage Creed might be just every young woman’s dream child. Cute, blonde, with an adorable smile, he seems like the perfect kid. But bring him back from the dead after he is run over by truck and it’s a whole different kettle of fish. It won’t be a hug that dead Gage greets you with, rather a very large knife!
Damien Thorn (Henry Stephens) The Omen, 1976
A bit of trivia here for you: Child star of The Omen, Harvey Stephens, actually appeared in the 2006 John Moore version in a brief cameo as a news reporter! His childhood performance will be the one that is remembered however as he plays a young boy believed to be the son of the devil.
Henry Evans (Macaulay Culkin) – The Good Son, 1993
Henry Evans is perhaps what would have happened to poor little Kevin in Home Alone if his mum had actually decided that he wasn’t worth the expensive flight back from Paris. Henry, a seemingly perfect yet psychotic child is believed to have killed his younger brother. When his father goes away on business, Henry is sent to stay with his cousin, Mark (Elijah Wood) and the mystery surrounding this child begins to unravel.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is in theatres from 1st January 2014.