(WARNING: Massive spoilers for the movies mentioned below. You've been warned)
There are some lines that films simply don't cross. Killing kids is one of them. It's just a taboo that most filmmakers try to avoid, which can be a shame because a lot of child characters in horror films are extremely annoying! Some films do push the boundaries a little and dare to shock their audiences by violently culling an innocent child or two. Below are my picks for the most memorable child death scenes.
5. 'Martyrs' (2008)
Pascal Laugier's ultimate disturbing movie goes against pretty much every rule in the book. It opens with the distressing image of a bruised and battered young girl running half naked down a back alley. Things get worse when we flash forward to present day where we glimpse a nuclear family happily eating breakfast. That is, until they get blasted to smithereens by a masked intruder none other than a vengeful Lucie. She systematically and brutally shoots every family member including a young Xavier Dolan and his even younger sister. It's a ballsy way to open a film and gives you an idea of what's to come in this harrowing piece of work.
4. 'Eden Lake' (2008)
The British masterpiece from James Watkins pits Jenny and Steve, a lovely young couple (Kelly Reily and Michael Fassbender) against a gang of viscous youths led by Brett (played by Jack O'Connell). It's a notoriously nasty film to watch, but #EdenLake isn't just shocking for the sake of it. It's a genuinely powerful and suspenseful horror film that packs a whopper of an emotional punch. Things get terribly out of hand when Steve gets murdered by Brett, which leaves Jenny in a fight for survival against the youths. One memorable moment sees Kelly blindly slashing a sweet, young Thomas Turgoose, who is actually just a victim of peer pressure. Seeing him croak in her weeping arms is a moving and unforgettable image.
3. 'Funny Games' (2007)
Michael Haneke isn't adverse to breaking taboos in films. We've seen disabled children being beaten up in The White Ribbon and self genital mutilation in The Piano Teacher, so it's no surprise that Haneke dramatically killed a child too. His infamous home invasion horror caused quite a stir when it was released and it's not hard to see why. The film goes against all horror movie conventions by offering absolutely no catharsis for the audience. #FunnyGames is pure intensity from start to finish and probably the most powerful scene is when the golfer-clad psychopaths blast the middle-class couple's young son with a shotgun. It's cleverly done off-screen so we're never sure of who's been shot until we see the parents' devastating reaction.
2. 'The Children' (2008)
This is a very underrated British horror movie that is perfect to watch at #Christmas time. It begins with a Christmas family gathering, and like all Christmases it all starts off with laughs and kisses before slowly descending into a nightmare of tantrums and tears. The little kiddies start coming down with a strange virus that turns them into psychopaths hellbent on destroying their parents. It's a provocative and thrilling film that dares to show cute kids being graphically murdered by their own family members. One of the most memorable moments is when a parent is cornered by a child and ends up impaling them on the remnants of a door. It's intense stuff.
1. 'Frankenstein' (1931)
Surely the first horror film to show the graphic death of a child is James Whale's Frankenstein back in 1931. In an iconic scene, the monster adorably interacts with a brave (or blind) little girl who shows him that petals float on the water. The monster then enthusiastically throws the girl into the water to see if she floats too, but unfortunately ends up drowning her. It's a tragic moment that still has the power to move audiences now.
So there we have it. Five horror films that had the balls to violently kill a child. What movie scenes stick out for you?