By Melissa Hunter
Tomorrow marks the release of "The Orphan," the tale of a family who adopts a child who turns out to be evil. Evil, I tells ya! Now we don't know exactly what's "wrong" with Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) — whether she's possessed by a demon, a witch, or is the devil incarnate — but we do know it teaches us a valuable lesson: Never adopt without a background check.
While the vampire fad has dominated the horror scene as of late, there is one thing we can always count on: Hollywood's fear of children. "The Orphan" follows in the age-old tradition of making movies about super-creepy kiddos, but where do they go after their demon child debut? Wonderwall nominates the Top 12 creepiest kids and investigates their extended bios.
12. Haley Joel Osment as Cole Sear in "The Sixth Sense"
One of the most famous catchphrases of the '90s — "I see dead people" — was uttered by a little boy who, though not evil, was certainly a creep. Anyone who talks to ghosts on a regular basis is certifiably creepy. And now, after some awkward adolescent years, he's managed to segue from eerie to heartwarming movies, and has starred in a number of indie films (the last one of note "Secondhand Lions" was back in 2003). In 2006, Haley Joel was arrested on suspicion of a DUI and marijuana possession. Well, it's better than demonic possession and seeing dead people, right? Maybe, maybe not.
11. Dakota Fanning as Emily Callaway in "Hide and Seek"
With wunderkind Dakota Fanning's angelic face and gentle demeanor, it's only natural to eventually cast her as a psycho. Opposite Robert De Niro, she starred as a young disturbed girl who, after losing her mother, finds solace with an evil imaginary friend. Oh, and they dyed her hair dark to make her extra evil. Nowadays, Dakota is starring in, well, pretty much every movie. But from "Hounddog" to "Coraline" to the new "Twilight," she seems to be getting more into the darker genres. If this is her version of teenage rebellion, we're all for it.
10. Macauley Culkin as Henry Evans in "The Good Son"
What's a little murdering between family? Macaulay plays Elijah Wood's evil cousin who seems to be lacking a soul in "The Good Son." While his performance is convincing, how can we not like Macaulay Culkin in the early '90s? He's just up to his old mischief again! He pretty much attempted to murder Joe Pesci about 20 times in "Home Alone" in pretty creative, elaborate ways. I don't really see the difference.
But really, there is something about Macauley that makes him simultaneously creepy and adorable. While his peak was back in his Kevin McCallister days, he's played everything from a serial killer in "Party Monster" to a good Christian boy in "Saved!" Either way, we're still inexplicably fascinated by his creepster appeal.
9. Patty McCormack as Rhoda in "The Bad Seed"
The OG creepy kid, Patty plays Rhoda Penmark, yet another eeeevil child, in the heartless (rather than demon-possessed) category. She demands to get everything she wants, and much of it involves killing people. While she gets hers at the end (a good spanking!) her adorable blond pigtails get her pretty far.
Patty McCormick is an evil kid with staying power. She guest starred on pretty much every popular TV show in the '70s and '80s and most recently starred as Pat Nixon in "Frost/Nixon." How's that for getting what she wants?
8. Mischa Barton as Kyra Collins "The Sixth Sense"
Remember the vomiting dead girl in "The Sixth Sense"? Remember that it was Mischa Barton? We didn't either. Her pale, pukey character added that extra zing of "Eww!" the movie needed. But apparently, a little bile didn't stop Hollywood from transforming Mischa into a hot, carefree Californian in "The O.C." Now, after dating rockers to posing at fashion shows to being omnipresent at every nightclub, she's under a hospital's watch for a breakdown last week. Maybe she rewatched "The Sixth Sense" and finally realized Bruce Willis was dead and toootally tripped?
7. Courtney Gains as Malachai in "Children of the Corn"
In a movie dedicated to an entire town of evil children, who is creepier than the leader of the whole adult-slaughtering manifesto than Malachai? He may be more of a creepy pubescent teen than a kid, but I bet you even his acne is evil.
You'd think that since this was Courtney Gains' very first movie, he'd be typecast as the cult leader, adult-slayer type, but he actually went on to have small roles in movies like "Back to the Future" and "Can't Buy Me Love." He also has a solo album, guys.
6. Lina Leandersson as Eli in "Let the Right One In"
A little bit less tween-targeted of a vampire love story, "Let the Right One In" features a bloodthirsty little vampire girl named Eli. Oskar, a bullied child, falls in love with Eli in a twisted, bloody, scary-as-hell love story. This is 14-year old Lina's first movie, but give her a few years. With her combo angelic-demonic face, she's got "Twilight Part 3" written all over her.
5. Heather O'Rourke as Carol Anne in "Poltergeist"
An angelic face like that? Totally the chosen demon child, obvi. Carol Anne gets entangled in a evil spirit battle, and all hell breaks loose. Good thing "Coach" (Craig T. Nelson) was there to save the day. This movie also instilled the fear of demons coming out of the television, which is probably a good message, all reality TV considered. However, as tragic fate would have it, Heather O'Rourke died some six years after filming the movie (and filming two more), due to a severe case of influenza. She was just one of four actors who died in a short span of time, thus creating the "Poltergeist" curse superstition. Very creepy.
4. Lisa and Louise Burns as The Grady Twins in "The Shining"
Twin daughters of the former caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, this creepster duo comes as a two-for-one. Though they don't personally enact terror, basically when you see them, you know s–t's gonna go down. You know, like blood rushing out of an elevator or your dad trying to kill you? The girls were actually two years apart. I'm kinda just creeped out by that.
Anyway, they might have been traumatized after starring in the movie, because "The Shining" was their first and last credit. Lisa earned a literature degree and Louise became a microbiologist. Not wanting to capitalize on an epic film and getting real jobs instead? That's horrifying.
3. Harvey Stephens (and Seamus Davey Fitzpatrick in the remake) as Damien in "The Omen"
What do you do when you find out your son is the literal antichrist? No human sacrifices for a week? The aptly named Damien wreaks havoc on the world, but still is pretty darned adorable. The original Damien, Harvey Stephens, didn't quite bounce back after his role as a 6-year old devil, but he did get a sweet cameo as "Tabloid Reporter #3" in the remake of "The Omen." The new Damien, Seamus, however is doing pretty well for his little self, as a regular on "Guiding Light" among other credits. Something about the horror to soap opera transition seems oddly fluid.
2. Daveigh Chase as Samara in "The Ring"
Another movie to make you fear television (and young girls), "The Ring"'s Samara is an impressive little evil dead kid. There's something to be said about a girl who can kill people just by watching her home video. Nowadays, Daveigh Chase has graduated from horrific vengeful undead child to horrific vengeful polygamist teen wife in "Big Love." I don't really think there's a possibility of casting this girl without "horrific" and "vengeful" in the character description.
1. Linda Blair as Regan in "The Exorcist"
Please, there is no vomiting, demon-possessed, soulless child that holds a candle to Regan in "The Exorcist." And then there was the twisting her neck around and the spider-crawl-down-the-stairs action. And the pea soup. Holy crap, I'm freaked out just writing about it. While Linda Blair has had a steady acting career ever since, her peak really came as the demon spawn and it seemed difficult to recover from that. But hey, she dated Rick James for a hot second and almost got Jodie Foster's role in "Taxi Driver," so that's good for, um, something right?
Maybe Blair can reprise her role as Regan in "The Exorcist: Milking It 35 Years Later." But if an adult was the possessed star, it would lose that demonic whippersnapper charm we are all so weirdly fascinated by.