Toddlers can be the kindest, most enduring, and lovable bundles of energy on this god-forsaken planet. Their pure, innocent gestures epitomize all that is good in this world.
They can also be downright terrifying. These tiny humans can – and often do – behave in a manner so depraved it makes you question whether they are the product of human beings or the spawn of Satan himself.
Even if you think I’m being a bit harsh here, you know I’m right. I’m far from the only one who feels this way, too. Scores of successful horror film directors have relied on children to strike fear into the hearts of moviegoers for decades. And with good reason.
The most chilling, blood-curdling characters, from Damien in “The Omen” to Regan in “The Exorcist”, tend to be children. That’s because we’ve all seen glimpses of these terrifying horror movie monsters in our own toddlers. My own daughter is no exception.
Here are eight of my toddler’s behaviors that are right out of a horror movie:
“The Exorcist” full-body tantrum
Tell my daughter no or put her down when she really wants to be held, and there’s a chance she’ll throw her body around as violently and uncontrollably as Regan MacNeil in “The Exorcist”.
“The Village of the Damned” baby monitor stare
Sometimes when my wife and I attempt to sneak a peek at our should-be-sleeping little angel, she’ll be standing up and staring right at the baby monitor camera, eyes glowing like one of those telepathic sociopaths from the 1960 Wolf Rilla Sci-Fi Horror classic.
“The Grudge” crawl
From about six months of age until she started walking, my daughter’s main form of transportation was an unorthodox crawl reminiscent of that demon girl in “The Grudge” or “Ju-On”. Not only was it kind of freaky to watch, it was also a deceptively fast way to get around.
“The Omen” smirk
You don’t have to know anything about the plot of “The Omen” to know there’s something wrong with little Damien’s smile. My daughter flashes the same smile right before doing something sadistic, like grabbing our cat’s tail until it yells out in agony. Yes, Damien is the Antichrist and my daughter is just a normal yet challenging toddler (hopefully), but that smile is eerily similar.
The demonic vomiting
This is technically cheating, because my daughter is no longer an infant, and I’ve already referenced “The Exorcist” once. But a few of those projectile pukes have left an indelible mark on me. New parents, take comfort in the fact that throwing up will stop…unless your child is actually possessed by the devil. If that’s the case, the puking will be the least of your problems.
The “Pet Sematary” deception tactic
In the film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic “Pet Sematary”, little Gage Creed returns from the dead and, in the most adorably tiny voice, says to his heartbroken mother, “I brought you something, Mommy.” This little guy is so damn cute his mom forgets he’s actually an evil demon and winds up getting hacked to death by the “something” Gage had for her (a knife).
In a similar manner, my daughter will approach me with the cutest, most cherubic look on her face only to rip out chunks of my hair, claw viciously at my eyes, nose, and mouth, or slap my face with a big smile on her face.
The blood-curdling mid-sleep scream
My little princess has a habit of waking up in the middle of a deep sleep, letting out a terrifying shriek and going right back to sleep. It’s not night terrors, but it still freaks me the hell out.
The “Cape Fear” De Niro laugh
That scene in “Cape Fear” where Robert De Niro laughs manically at a seemingly stupid movie is pretty damn scary. It’s even scarier when that same laugh comes from a one-year-old girl. My daughter’s “Cape Fear” De Niro laugh is as uncanny as it is unsettling. And it doesn’t help that she laughs hardest when she witnesses something painful happening to another person (e.g., Dad slamming his finger with a hammer).