10 Horror Movies That Dared To Kill Off The Child

Warning: This article contains descriptions of graphic violence.

Children are a miracle of life, but unfortunately, in horror movies, they’re a frequent cause of exasperation. They’re too often included as an excuse to incite terrible events due to their poor decision-making, or, alternately, they don’t do much at all.

Yet, there are few things in movies more shocking than the death of a child character. It’s a taboo in fiction that’s rarely utilized, but when it is, it can be a shocking twist that captures its audience. While the scenes aren’t always handled particularly well, some films prove that nobody is truly safe in the horror genre.


10 The Good Son

If there was ever a child that needed to be stopped, it would be Henry from 1993’s The Good Son. Starring Macauley Culkin as the evil son and Elijah Wood as the good one, the movie follows Mark (the latter child), who’s been threatened not to expose Henry’s psychopathic tendencies.

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In the ending scene, Henry attempts to kill his mother, Susan (Wendy Crewes), who then has to decide between saving her nephew Mark or her son from falling off a cliff. Culkin and Wood are perfectly cast for their expressive faces, but the scene in which Henry falls off the edge of the cliff is comically dramatic and ridiculous.

9 Halloween III: Season Of The Witch

In the only Halloween film not to feature Michael Myers, Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy) takes the central villain role instead as an evil head of the fictional Silver Shamrock corporation that designs Halloween masks that kill their wearer when their commercial activates them.

The most memorable death is of Little Buddy (Brad Schacter), whose head caves in and becomes a swarm of bugs and a snake. However, the film’s haunting ending goes further to imply the deaths of several children across the country, as protagonist Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) fails to take the commercial off the air as several children wearing the popular masks are encouraged to watch. It’s an odd movie, but one that’s deserved the cult-hit reputation it gained over time.

8 IT

Both the 1990 TV special and the 2017 movie adaption of Stephen King’s 1986 novel apply as they’re both so chilling. IT stars a cast of children against a nightmarish clown, but the most tragic fate is its iconic opening with Georgie.

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Played by Tony Dakota in the ’90s and Jackson Robert Scott in 2017, both scenes are stressful in knowing the fate of poor Georgie, with Tim Curry’s take on Pennywise being especially chilling. The horror conveyed in the tragic events is a strong setup for both films, effectively hinting at the terror to come.

7 Body Snatchers

The 1993 Body Snatchers is one of the four adaptations of the classic Invasion Of The Body Snatchersin which people are replaced by identical copies.

The ’93 counterpart is not as famous as its ’78 older sibling, but it does include one of the most ridiculous uses of a green screen when Marti (Gabrielle Anwar) must throw a pod duplicate of young Andy (Reily Murphy) out of a helicopter. As he falls, he does the iconic point and scream all the pod-people do, but it looks extremely fake on its green screen backdrop. Unfortuntaely, it doesn’t serve to terrify whatsoever.

6 Max Overdrive

Maximum Overdrive is a film so ridiculous that its final antagonist is a truck sporting the face of Spider Man‘s Green Goblin. Directed and written by Stephen King, the 1986 horror comedy features machines going rogue. King has written several horror stories that haven’t shown children mercy, but this is the silliest and the only movie King has directed.

Early into the chaos, a steamroller threatens a dispersing junior baseball team, which then flattens a player that fails to get away. This takes place moments after their coach is killed by a vending machine that fires three soda cans at high speed. Though the sight of the unfortunate fates can induce a wince, it’s divorced of any realism that keeps it in line with other dark comedies in the 1980s.

5 Frankenstein

The iconic 1931 Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and based on the book by Mary Shelley. The movie is famous for the tragedy of the monster made by its titular scientist, who sadly drowns Maria in its most tragic scene, where he mistakenly expects her to float.

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The original version cut the scene in which Frankenstein’s monster throws Maria into the lake as it was deemed too upsetting, and it was only restored in the 1980s. It’s difficult to determine which is more shocking; the edited version cuts straight to Maria’s father carrying her corpse, while the unedited version shows Frankenstein tossing her into the lake and looking visibly upset as he comes to the realization of what he did. Either way, it works in conveying the saddening turn of events.

4 Pan’s Labyrinth

Considered Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece and one of the best dark fantasies, the film follows Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) during the Spanish Civil War as she comes to learn of her royal heritage through a faun. It keeps the question of whether the fairytale-like events are real or not throughout the movie.

With the reality of the events in question, it’s difficult to say whether Ofelia’s fate by the end of the movie is true or not. However, she evidently died in the reality outside the fairytale. Ofelia’s belief in her fable grants her a bittersweet ending, but it doesn’t minimize the tension and dread of watching her stepfather Vidal (Sergi López) shoot her. Ofelia was a wonderful protagonist to root for until the very end, thereby strengthening the impact of the movie’s finale.

3 hereditary

hereditary features one of the most shocking child deaths in any horror movie. Written and directed by Ari Aster, hereditary remains one of the best A24-distributed horror films. Toni Collete and Alex Wolff, in particular, put on fantastic performances after Charlie’s (Milly Shapiro) demise.

From the moment Charlie’s head visibly collides with a pole at the side of the road, the viewer’s breath is stuck in their throat. It’s a mortifying and stunningly realistic scene, with Wolff’s character in far too much shock to do anything but go to bed. It’s easy to see how the family would be destroyed after what occurs, and it’s an apt use of a usually taboo movie occurrence.

2 The Witch

Robert Eggers’s feature-length directorial debut took to theaters in 2016 after a 2015 Sundance premiere, where it earned critical acclaim. It focuses on an exiled family that is slowly killed off in the woods, starting with their youngest: baby Samuel.

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If the scene where Sam is ground into a paste wasn’t enough, then the stellar performance of young Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), who writhes and seeks peace with his lord, will likely enrapture — it’s one of the best child actor performances to be shown on screen. The twins Jonas (Lucas Dawson) and Mercy (Ellie Grainger) are also implied to have been flown to their deaths, receiving a kinder off-screen end after their awful antics and worship to Black Phillip.

1 Beware! Children At Play

This aptly named title is director Mik Cribben’s most controversial film. The 1989 movie still holds a twenty-five percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, derided as a dull trainwreck up until its ending sequence, where adults come to murder an entire group of cannibalistic children.

The sequence in question is baffling, with unfitting music, terribly delayed sound design in its gunshots, awful gore in its practical effects, and silent acting from everyone on screen. It was despised at the time for its cruelty, but now is just a laughably abysmal piece of filmmaking. For some, it may still be too much, but fans of dark comedy might get a kick of how pretentiously dark and baffling the events are. It’s a scene made for shock value, and it ends up with no value at all.

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