Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Children Shouldn't Be Dead Things

Yesterday I was perusing Twitter, and came across a series of photographs by the rather wonderful Joshua Hoffine, who creates horrific scenes with the touch of an artist. The photos that grabbed my attention can be found in this Huffington Post article, and in them he uses his own children to create horror stills, for no other reason than that adding children to horror is really scary!

He's right you know. There's something just truly creepy about the use of children - in particular 'child ghosts' or 'demon children' in horror stories. Think of all the movies that have played on this theme over the years: Village of the Damned, Children of the Corn, The Dark Water, Ju-on: The Grudge, The Orphanage, The Exorcist (kind of), Poltergeist, and more recently 'Mama' (see the trailer below, if you don't fancy sleeping tonight).

There are lots of theories about exactly why we find children in horror settings so scary, and it makes for fascinating reading. There's something subversive and challenging to our psyche to see the innocent as a façade for evil, or the 'safe' becoming the horrific in one fell swoop. I kind of think that, in the same way that we naturally find crimes against children abhorrent, our minds rail against the idea of 'evil' or 'frightening' children. When we see it played out on the silver screen or in a book, our brains reject the notion, and generates an almost instant phobia of the thing we're seeing. You've probably noticed recently that zombie movies have started to include zombie children - zombies just aren't scary any more, but zombie children instil that sense of revulsion that cinema-goers had when they first saw Night of the Living Dead.

This isn't meant to be an in-depth blog post (I've linked to one of those above); more a random musing. As I'm currently writing a horror book, I've been looking at creative ways to use the 'supernatural child' trope in my own work. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, you can see the results for yourselves.

Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite.


  1. Hi Mark

    Personally I never liked the stories that revolve around children.Especially the binomial childs and animals.This really scares me¡.

    As you said children are considered as synonym of benignity and to change their hipothetical true nature and to turn them into evil beings is something that can produce a shocking effect in people´s mind.I think because of this they are rather attractive in horror fiction.

    Anyway I can accept their presence in literature or cinema if there is a good storie to tell.Two weeks ago I saw The turn of the screew by Henry James (BBC serie).I loved it.Have you seen The others by Alejandro Amenabar?.I too must confess that The Orphanage did not like much.

    You speak spanish very well.Where did you learn it?.

    I saw the links about abandoned places.Gorgeous
    homes,as a walk through history.

    I wish you well with your book.:)

    1. Exactly - the best horror plays on our fears, and there's nothing scarier than subverting what we think is safe. I really enjoyed The Others, I missed that one off the list.

      And I learned Spanish in High School - but I've forgotten most of it! I can read and write Spanish okay if I think hard about it, but don't speak it so well any more :-)

      Thanks again for following and adding to the discussion.

    2. Bien¡.Combinaré ambos idiomas para que lo recuerdes si quieres.A mí me da un poco de verguenza hacerlo en inglés ,aunque intento mejorarlo.Hasta la próxima :)

    3. I think you make your points very well in English, Chelo. Your English is better than my Spanish! Hasta la próxima.

  2. Along with children in horror come childish things. Things always seem to pose a greater threat to me than characters because things can't be reasoned with. Dolls present a kind of hybrid of person and thing, but a rocking chair or a bouncing ball... there's no reasoning with those things!