As a writer and an inveterate horror zealot, I spend copious amounts of time over-analyzing horror characters. From the ghostly to the ghastly and the especially deranged I can’t get enough of them. Each monster represents a societal fear or taboo, each one is part of a cautionary tale. But none of them terrify me quite as much as the creepy kid character.
A Haunted Island Turns a Toddler into a Nightmare
We were living on the island of Guam at the time. While the largest of the Marianas Islands, it’s still a tiny spec of land in the vast Pacific Ocean with a long history of being taken over by invading countries. The ancient Chamorros believed the world around them was full of spirits. These Taotaomo’na began as ancestral spirits that became ghosts and devils through colonization.
There was a quiet eeriness to the island that you only noticed out of the corner of your eye. A shadow moving past the window when there was nothing there, a sense that you were being watched and occasionally you would be overcome with the sensation of dread or loss.
We knew we were only going to be on the island for two years, so we made the best of it. But our 2-year-old son was a different story.
He didn’t sleep well in Guam and every nighttime was filled with the stress of trying to get him to sleep. We always left the bedroom doors open when we slept so we could hear him across the hall in his room. The open doors were a concession that helped him feel secure.
Late one night we were asleep in our bedroom. A slight creaking sound woke me. I opened my eyes and looked toward my son’s room. The streetlight outside cast a cold glow through his bedroom window illuminating a small figure in white standing silent and still next to my bed. It didn’t move it just stood there blankly staring at me, a silent apparition with unknown intent. My husband woke the instant he heard me gasp and I felt him physically recoil at the scene.
It took another moment for my sleep-bound brain to register that the figure was my son, dressed in his white pajamas with the streetlight glowing through his baby-fine hair. He was sleepwalking, a thing he had never done before (or ever again). But that image haunts me. We occasionally tell the story to people and joke about it.
Kids. Am I right?
But underneath that humor sits an unease that has lasted over 20 years. Sometimes children, even our own, are terrifying.
Creepy Kids with Bad Intentions as Horror Characters
The fear of children is known as pedophobia, a type of specific phobia characterized by an irrational or excessive fear of children. However, it is important to note that not all portrayals of children in horror are meant to evoke a fear of children specifically; instead, they often use children as a tool to explore deeper societal fears.
These fears can include loss of control, fear of the unknown, and fear of the future. Portraying children as evil can create feelings of hopelessness and despair, which can be powerful tools in horror storytelling.
Consider the feeling of betrayal you feel when you realize that the sweet little kid you met in Act I turns out to be a short psycho with a razor knife hiding under the bed. Evil disguised as innocence cuts directly to the core of the uncertainty we experience regularly.
Child horror characters have always been a prominent feature in horror movies, books, and audio shows with portrayals of children as evil and malevolent being a popular trope. From manipulative and cunning Damien Thorn from The Omen to the vengeful spirit Samara in The Ring, these creepy kids send chills down the spines of audiences.
A few of Audio Drama’s Chilling Children
The creepy child trope horror character has been a popular feature in horror movies, radio shows, and books for decades, and has also made its way into the world of audio drama. The use of child characters as malevolent and manipulative beings in audio drama can be a particularly effective tool for creating suspense and unease, as the audience is forced to confront the unsettling nature of children acting in ways that are not typically associated with innocence.
Moreover, the lack of visual cues in audio drama makes the presence of creepy kids even more chilling, as the listener’s imagination is left to fill in the gaps. Horror Characters that cannot be seen, rely on your own fears to fill in the details. Overall, the use of sinister child characters in audio drama is a powerful tool for creating an atmosphere of horror and suspense. If the sound of an out-of-tune music box, ghostly nursery rhymes, and tiny footsteps make you look under the bed before going to sleep, then here are some horror productions to check out.
Victoria is a character from the audio drama Victoria’s Lift. She is the enigmatic operator of the titular lift, which serves as a portal to different dimensions. Her calm and collected demeanor belie her true nature, as she is revealed to be a powerful entity with the ability to manipulate reality. Despite her cryptic and sometimes sinister actions, Victoria is ultimately portrayed as being neither good nor evil, but rather an arbiter of choice. As with some of the best horror characters, Victoria is frightening because her true nature is unknown.
Old Gods of Appalachia
Episode 46: Lay Not Upon Us Innocent Blood
Old Gods of Appalachia is an audio drama that explores the dark and eerie folklore of the Appalachian region. Set in the 1920s, the show follows the residents of a small town as they confront the supernatural forces that reside in the hills and hollers of their community. Each episode weaves together elements of horror, mystery, and historical fiction to create a haunting and atmospheric tale.
“Lay Not upon Us Innocent Blood” introduces children as horror characters that may not be malicious themselves but are social outcasts and therefore unnatural.
The No Sleep Podcast
S3:E25 The Girl in the Log
The No Sleep Podcast is an audio drama that features original horror stories submitted by listeners or curated by the show’s producers. Each episode typically features two or three stories, often narrated by a rotating cast of voice actors. The show has gained a large and dedicated following since its launch in 2011 and has been praised for its immersive sound design and engaging storytelling.
“The Girl in the Log” presents two different types of horror characters that are in opposition- the ghost and the monster.
11th Hour Audio
11th Hour Audio is a horror audio drama anthology produced by a team of independent audio drama creators. Each year, the team releases a collection of original horror stories, ranging from classic ghost stories to more experimental and avant-garde pieces. The show has gained a reputation for its high-quality production values and its willingness to push the boundaries of the horror genre. Check out the productions below from 11th Hour Challenge creators to hear a few more child horror characters come to liife.
Down the Basement
A Little Bedtime Gory
EVP – Side B
While the idea of creepy kids as horror characters may not be for everyone, it is undeniable that they have a lasting impact on horror storytelling. Whether it is exploring societal fears or simply using them as a tool to create suspense, these malevolent children have proven to be an effective way to scare audiences. As horror audio drama continues to grow in popularity, it will be interesting to see how this trope continues to be used in the medium. For those looking for a spooky listen, the shows listed above will deliver the chills and thrills that come with the horror genre.
Do you know of an audio drama that features a sinister crumb-snatcher? Let us know!