You may have seen this video from a Brazilian candid-camera show that played a cruel prank on elevator riders. After the people get on, the lights flicker and then a spooky-looking girl with a doll appears, scaring the crap out of everyone.
It got me thinking: Why are little girls so much more unsettling than boys?
Would "The Ring" have been as scary if it featured a boy? How about "The Exorcist" or "Poltergeist"? Hard to imagine.
Ditto for the new Guillermo del Toro production, "Mama" (though that also has a creepy mom).
The Best Horror Films website lists creepy little girls as one of its top horror-movie cliches, though the trope came in below "the car won't start." (Surprisingly, "twisting an ankle while fleeing the villain" didn't make the list.)
Maybe it's because girls are perceived as sweet and harmless, and it upsets nature's balance to depict them as cold, evil creatures.
I think the phenomenon also may have something to do with the inherent goofiness that accompanies a Y chromosome.
In the Brazilian elevator stunt, it would have been impossible to replace the girl with a little boy. There's no way he could have kept a straight face.