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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

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2024: The year of the demon baby

(Spoilers for “Immaculate” follow in the article.)

Can we all agree that children are terrifying? They’re like adults, but smaller, faster and with less of a moral compass. Obviously, I’m joking (partially) but have noticed a particular trend this year in regards to children in film. There’s a lot of scary kids in horror movies lately, so let’s look into that.

A classic horror trope is “pregnancy horror,” where a woman who is pregnant or who has just delivered their child finds a variety of frightening events surrounding their situation. Classic films such as “Rosemary’s Baby” acknowledge how hard having a child is through analogies such as, “What if Satan really wanted to take your baby away from you?” Another classic “demon baby” type of movie is “The Omen” franchise. That’s why I’m writing this article; the franchise is being revitalized with a prequel, aptly titled “The First Omen,” even if I believe the film is still only addressing the birth of the baby from the original series. That makes it the same Omen as the classic films, not a secret prior omen. Title aside, it’s a movie about the birth of the antichrist. Not to be confused with the other movie that just came out, centered on the birth of a (pseudo) antichrist.

If “Seinfeld" was on today, maybe Jerry would be asking his audience “What’s the deal with antichrist babies?” I’m not a stand-up comedian, but I found myself wondering the same thing. As we reviewed already in The Observer, there’s another horror movie this year centering on the birth of a potentially evil figure: the Sydney Sweeney star vehicle “Immaculate.” All the trailers demonstrate is that the film follows a pregnant nun, who is mysteriously and unnaturally pregnant. It’s not a sacrilegious tale of a second virgin birth, but instead a sacrilegious tale of scientists trying to genetically engineer a Second Coming of the Christ — as if that’s any better.

While not an explicit antichrist story, “Immaculate” gives antichrist vibes. But you don’t have to be explicitly satanic to be a scary horror movie kid. This year also saw the release of “Imaginary,” a film about a child that befriends a demonic entity that is also a teddy bear. “Imaginary” is one picture in a long tradition of “kid befriends or interacts with the supernatural,” with films such as “Gremlins,” “Poltergeist” and mega-franchise starter “Child’s Play” all following similar beats. 

Of course, not all children are scary, just most. We also have kids fighting monsters. Attempted blockbuster “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” featured many children fighting ghosts and ghouls. I want to remind you, dear reader, that the ghost fighting equipment was too dangerous for the adult ghostbusters in the original films. While I’m sure in the ensuing decades the equipment has gotten safer, how safe can it really be? Why are we letting children fight ghosts? The movie’s writers have positioned the youngest member of the new Ghostbusters as the main character of the franchise moving forward (assuming there is any demand for the series in the future). Even if they are not the monster or friends with the monster, children fighting the horror movie villains is still alarming, if not more than the others. 

I believe the children are our future, so what does it mean if so many of them are potentially evil, as these movies want me to believe? It’s not that I think this will become a trend in horror — it already is an established trope — or that it spells a dark omen (pun intended) for the genre’s future. I just find it a weird coincidence that we have two Catholic-coded horror movies about childbirth coming out so close to each other. Sometimes, that’s enough. At the end of the day, the kids are alright (and a harbinger of the end times).