From movies like Child’s Play to The Conjuring, horror writers have known for a long time that the fastest way to set our nerves on edge is with the right kind of doll.
It may seem strange that a simple child’s toy can evoke such strong feelings of dread in people, but dolls have had a much longer history as ritual objects than as toys.
While the rituals may not have survived all the shifts and clashes of culture that mark our fascinating evolution as a species, that sense of fear and mistrust around old dolls seems to remain for reasons even we can have trouble explaining.
And it’s likely those leftover feelings that compel us to feel not just uneasy around dolls, but threatened by them. Our modern impression of scary dolls isn’t that they’re a tool for our spirituality, but that they’re channeling their own otherworldly power. These dolls of modern folklore aren’t just creepy, they’re haunted.
The dolls on this list may have come from different parts of the world and vary in how they’re made, but they all have one thing in common. Their ability to terrify.
So let’s get into the stories of these 12 creepy dolls and see if we can get to the bottom of what lies beneath their unblinking eyes.