Zombies, werewolves and chainsaw-wielding maniacs are tried-and-true staples of horror films. But none can match the visceral dread evoked by a child with an innocent face and a diabolical stare. Cinema’s evil children attack our cherished ideas of innocence and our innocent bystander status as the audience. A good horror film is a scary ride—a “devil child” movie is a guilt trip.
This book examines 24 international films—with discussions of another 100—that in effect “indict” viewers for crimes of child abuse and abandonment, greed, social and ecological negligence, and political and war crimes, and for persistent denial of responsibility for them all. For 75 years evil children have ritually rebuked audiences and, in playing on our guilt, established a horror subgenre that might be described as a blood-spattered rampage on an ethical mission.