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A group of solemn children with glowing eyes stand together in this image from Alphaville Films.
Unsettling children, like those in “Village of the Damned,” have been a staple in horror for decades. (Image: Alphaville Films)

Sometimes a movie trailer completely grabs your attention. It can be a mysterious tease or a heart-pounding preview that captures your imagination. The latter applies to the trailer I saw for “Abigail,” a horror film hitting theaters in April. It follows a group of kidnappers who take their target, a child named Abigail, and spirit her away to a mansion for ransom. Unfortunately for them, Abigail is a vampire, and it’s no spoiler to say ample bloodshed ensues. 

Not only am I a thousand percent in on this movie already, but it got me thinking about iconic child characters in horror movies, from seemingly innocent protagonists to the monsters themselves, and which ones would be the coolest to have as your own kid. With that in mind, I’ve gathered 10 of the most iconic creepy and spooky children in horror to assess how easy, painful, or bloody it would be to have them in your life. I’ve also gone a step further by ranking these kooky kids by how much I'd want to adopt them, from least adoptable to most.

Regan MacNeil — ‘The Exorcist’ (1973)

A heavily scarred girl sits in bed in this image from Hoya Productions.
“The Exorcist” is one of the greatest horror films ever, with Regan (Linda Blair) being a big reason why. (Image: Hoya Productions)

I’m starting out the list with a child I want absolutely nowhere near me. Regan (Linda Blair) seems nice enough on a good day — very sweet and mild-mannered. But her possession by the demon, Pazuzu (voiced by Ron Faber), is a deal-breaker. I don’t mess with possessions, Ouija boards, or anything in that arena. I have no need for head spinning or projectile vomiting in my life, thank you very much. And all that is before she pushed two trained priests (Max von Sydow and Jason Miller) to their absolute limits during her famous exorcism. 

“The Exorcist” is one of my favorite horror films and a true hallmark of the genre, but keep Regan away from me.

“The Exorcist” is streaming on Sling TV.

Michael Myers — ‘Halloween’ (1978)

A young boy in a clown costume stands outside holding a knife in this image from Compass International Pictures.
Before he was the killer everyone fears, Michael Myers (portrayed here by Will Sandin) was just a kid on Halloween. (Image: Compass International Pictures)

People forget that before he was an unstoppable force of evil in a white mask, Michael Myers (Nick Castle) was a child who also happened to be an unstoppable force of evil. There are young monsters and ghouls on this list who you can look at and think, “They can be rehabilitated.” But we have demonstrable proof throughout the Halloween franchise that Michael Myers isn’t one of those children. 

Adopt him at your own risk, as he’s definitely going to stab you when you’re not looking.

“Halloween” is available to watch on AMC Plus.

Billy Wilkins — ‘Trick ’r Treat’ (2007)

A group of costumed children rides a school bus in this image from Warner Premiere.
A celebration of all things horror, “Trick ’r Treat” is full of scary children. (Image: Warner Premiere)

I adore “Trick ’r Treat.” It’s my favorite horror movie of all time, and it’s the first one I watch every spooky season. As an anthology film following various scary happenings in a small town on Halloween, the movie has an ensemble cast (including Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, and Leslie Bibb, to name a few) and enough scares to frighten everyone. 

One of the storylines follows school principal Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker), a Halloween rule follower who takes enforcement to the extreme and has passed that along to his son, Billy (Connor Levins). Unfortunately, Billy is really annoying, even to his father. That said, Billy also loves Halloween, which is enough to place him on this list because everyone should love Halloween more.

“Trick ’r Treat” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video.

Isaac and Malachai — ‘Children of the Corn’ (1984)

Two boys in rural attire stand in a cornfield in this image from Angeles Entertainment Group.
Isaac (John Franklin) and Malachai (Courtney Gains) pack a potent one-two punch of creepiness. (Image: Angeles Entertainment Group)

In any conversation about creepy children, one of the hallmarks of the genre is “Children of the Corn,” adapted from one of Stephen King’s short stories. The film follows a town in which the children, led by Isaac (John Franklin) and his muscle Malachai (Courtney Gains), rise up and murder all of the adults. 

The two run the town like clockwork, so personally, I think they’d help a lot in maintaining the household and keeping me on schedule. They’re still pretty far down the list because they’re a little rural for a city boy like me, and they work in service of yet another demon — He Who Walks Behind The Rows.

“Children of the Corn” is streaming on Tubi.

The Lost Boys — ‘The Lost Boys’ (1987)

A group of teenage vampires stands menacingly in this image from Richard Donner Production.
A gang of vampires is about the coolest gang I can think of. (Image: Richard Donner Production)

Modern vampires owe so much to “The Lost Boys.” The film revitalized vampires in popular culture and turned them from old guys sleeping in coffins to the cool, suave creatures we know today. While brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) set out to destroy the Lost Boys vampire gang, I think it would be cool to have a whole crew of vampires to roll up with. 

Vampires are the coolest movie monsters, and the only thing keeping The Lost Boys from being higher on this list is that they’re a bunch of teenagers. I can’t handle the emotional swings and troubles of teens anymore.       

Stream “The Lost Boys” on Sling TV.

Toshio Saeki — ‘The Grudge’ (2004)

A ghostly young boy appearing upside down screams in this image from Columbia Pictures.
If you’ve seen “The Grudge,” I apologize for making you relive this jump scare. (Image: Columbia Pictures)

Horror is a universal genre, with different cultures drawing from their own mythologies and societal worries to craft scary tales. “The Grudge,” the 2004 remake of Japan’s “Ju-On,” helped introduce American audiences to Japanese horror. Following a family that moves into a house where a prior tragedy occurred, the movie examines the lingering effects and emotions of violence. 

One of the spirits haunting the house is that of Toshio Saeki (Yuya Ozeki), who appears ghost white and is one of the nicer entities in the place. I personally think he’s more of a victim than anything and that a loving home is all he needs to prevent him from getting into any antics. The unsettling ghostly sounds he makes would definitely creep me out, though. 

“The Grudge” is available to watch on Hulu.

The Children — ‘Village of the Damned’ (1995)

A group of children in matching outfits and haircuts walk through a playground in this image from Alphaville Films.
“Village of the Damned” is one of John Carpenter’s most underrated works. (Image: Alphaville Films)

The children from “Village of the Damned” might be the most disturbing entities on this list, which shouldn’t be a surprise given it’s a John Carpenter film. A group of nine kids with pale skin, glowing eyes, and powerful psychic abilities is nothing to mess with. 

But like Isaac and Malachai farther up the list, think about the chores. Nothing around the house would ever need cleaning and the lawn would never need to be mowed — this group of children would be all over it. Just don’t get on their bad side, because who knows what they might make you do …

“Village of the Damned” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video.

Brandon Breyer — ‘Brightburn’ (2019)

A boy with glowing eyes stands with a hooded cape covering his face in this image from Screen Gems.
“Brightburn” is every superhero origin story you’ve seen — if they all went horribly wrong. (Image: Screen Gems)

“Brightburn” is a movie I’ll defend to the death. It’s a relatively simple premise, a play on “What if Superman was evil?” but executed well. With standout performances from Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as well as a ton of dread, it’s an incredibly rewatchable film. 

Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) is suitably terrifying as the titular superbeing/alien, but as we’ve seen in many Superman tales, it’s the guidance that really shapes a superhuman into who they’ll become. I simply believe I would be a good enough parent to make Brandon not evil. You’re welcome, everyone.

“Brightburn” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video.

Glen — ‘Seed of Chucky’ (2004)

Two living dolls stand together in this image from La Sienega Productions.
Don’t ask me how evil dolls were able to have a doll child, but they did. (Image: La Sienega Productions)

The “Child’s Play” franchise is another film series I believe needs more love. The first couple of films are legitimately creepy horror movies, and the series evolves into campy goodness from there. In the fifth entry, 2004’s “Seed of Chucky,” we discover that evil dolls Chucky (Brad Dourif) and Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) have somehow had a doll son, Glen (Billy Boyd). 

I’ve been a huge fan of the franchise, so I’d gladly take a slightly less psychotic version of Chucky. I am fully convinced if Glen ever turned on me, I’d be able to take him — since he’s a doll, after all. And as a huge “The Lord of the Rings” fan, Glen being voiced by Boyd is a major plus for me.

“Seed of Chucky” is available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime Video.

M3GAN — ‘M3GAN’ (2022)

A robot doll disguised as a young girl stands on an elevator in this image from Universal Pictures.
Few movies have captured both camp and horror like “M3GAN.” (Image: Universal Pictures)

“Gabriel, M3GAN is a robot, not a kid.” I hear you, and I don’t care. She looks like a kid, and during the events of her movie, she’s only a few weeks to a few months old, so she counts as a child in my book. And she’s an icon. “M3GAN” is the most fun I’ve had at a horror movie in a theater in years. 

Amie Donald and Jenna Davis’ performances (physical and vocal, respectively) as the advanced-doll-gone-haywire bring an incredible mix of horror and camp. M3GAN can dance, sing pop hits, and Google things for you faster than you can think. Everyone should want a M3GAN in their lives, even if it can get a little bloody sometimes. For these reasons, she strikes me as the most adoptable creepy child on this list.

“M3GAN” is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

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