In Hollywood, they say you should never work with children or animals, and any parent can tell you why trying to get a child to stick to a script and do exactly as they’re told is just not going to work out the way you want. So it’s really not surprising that, in many movies and TV shows, real babies are swapped for fake ones to make everything go more smoothly, quickly, and efficiently. And yet it would be disingenuous to say that animatronic, CGI, or puppet babies solve all of Hollywood’s problems. Sometimes, said changeling can go horribly awry. We’ve rounded up the worst fake babies in movies and TV to prove our point.
To be perfectly fair, some of the “babies” on our list were meant to be sort of creepy. Others, however, were honest to goodness efforts to create a realistic human child that just fell horrible flat. Others are an eerie (or sort of hilarious) combination of the two. The end result is a sense of unsettled revulsion known colloquially as "
the uncanny valley," a term used to describe the adverse emotional response we feel when presented with an object that looks almost perfectly human... but not quite. To wit, here are nine of our most egregious examples... 10 was just too much creepy for one day... Renesmee, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Is this the face that launched a thousand memes...? Summit Entertainment
We know making fun of the
Twilight series is passé. It’s been 10 years since the last installment of the melodramatic, corny series, and stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have gone on to have well-rounded, critically acclaimed careers. What else is there to say that hasn’t been said?
But my god, that creepy, creepy, fake baby. No list of “creepy fake movie babies” isn’t complete without Renesmee.
get that she is supposed to be an unprecedented and otherworldly immortal human/vampire hybrid whose youth and precocious wisdom is supposed to be a little unsettling but there’s a limit, people. Baby McKenna, American Sniper
This is the kind of scene stealing performance you want to avoid at all costs...
We love Bradley Cooper. He’s a tremendously gifted actor... but even his dramatic skills couldn’t sell us on the idea that this obvious doll was a real baby. I mean really, just look at it. It looks like something we could dig out of our kids’ toy box. You don’t want to use a real baby for the scene? We get it: they’re hard to work with. But surely a major Hollywood film has the budget for something
slightly more realistic than what truly appears to be a toy store baby doll. “Baby” McKenna took us out of what would otherwise be an emotional scene. Baby Annette, Annette Like Pinnocchio, puppet Anne becomes a real girl by the end of the movie. Amazon Video
Spoilers: Baby Annette is a puppet. So is toddler Annette. And kid Annette up until the last scene of the movie. The decision to cast the titular role of this rock-musical was deliberate. Baby as puppet is a metaphor, In the words of director
Leos Carax “to Driver’s, character she metaphorically is a puppet, someone to be controlled according to his desires. But, just to be clear, in the context of the movie, everyone else sees her as a healthy human child.”
This does not change the fact that the baby/toddler/kid is a creepy, highly articulated marionette that continues to haunt our dreams.
“Jericho,” The Servant *insert uncomfortable groan that lasts for forever here* AppleTV
Initially, we weren’t sure if we should include “Jericho.” After all, the premise of
The Servant makes it explicitly clear that he’s not meant to be real. His mother, Dorothy, lost the real Jericho as a newborn after accidentally leaving him in the car. A doll version of her dead son is the only thing that drew her out of a catatonic state and now she operates as the the doll is real. She even hires a nanny, Leanne, to care for the “boy.”
But we also feel like that scary/tragic premise, coupled with the eeriness of this doll, that springs forth straight from the depths of the Uncanny Valley, is reason enough to include him in this roundup.
Baby Benjamin, The Curious Case of Benjamin The Curious Case of Benjamin Button won an Academy Award for “Best Visual Effects” and, for the time (2008), the technological feat of creating a computer generated Brad Pitt was truly impressive. But about that robot baby meant to depict newborn Benjamin. The film’s visual effects supervisor Eric Barba describes our first look at the titular character as being accomplished with “a mixture of a live action robotic maquette which was enhanced by Hydraulx,” a renowned visual effects company that also worked on Avatar, The Avengers, and various X-Men movies. As such, Robot Benjamin Button baby looks fairly realistic... you know, for an aging-backwards-infant robot. But we’re still unsettled. Dancing Baby, Ally McBeal
If you weren’t there, you can’t imagine just how much “the
Ally McBeal baby” captured pop culture and imagination. This creepy little nightmare was everywhere. One could argue that the Dancing Baby from hit series Ally McBeal was one of our very first memes. (It’s even been credited with giving the show its boost into appointment viewing.) The cha-cha-ing, CGI baby was a recurring bit – a hallucination or dream meant to symbolize Ally’s growing desire to have a baby. But be honest: if you hallucinated this little dude, would it make you actually want a baby or would you nope right out of mother happily and forever? The Devil’s Baby, Passion of the Christ The Passion of the Christ came out in 2004 to no small amount of controversy, ranging from accusations of anti-semitism, to the graphic violence, and the depiction of such an important religious figure at all.
But, right now, we want to talk about the scary, scary baby.
He appears only briefly, during the scene Jesus is being beaten by the Romans. The Devil, portrayed by actress Rosalinda Celentano, looks on coldly, holding what appears to be a child in her arms, wrapped partially in her cloak. Slowly, the child is revealed to have hair all over its arms and back. He turns to the gruesome scene, and OMG THAT’S NOT A BABY! That’s fully an
adult man styled to look like an eerie baby! Mel Gibson, who directed the movie, explained to Christianity Today , “It's evil distorting what's good. What is more tender and beautiful than a mother and a child? So the Devil takes that and distorts it just a little bit. Instead of a normal mother and child you have an androgynous figure holding a 40-year-old 'baby' with hair on his back. It is weird, it is shocking.” Mikey, Look Who’s Talking
We understand that, for the time (1989) this CGI baby was quite the technological accomplishment. In fact
Look Who’s Talking was a hugely popular franchise about the inner monologues of pre-verbal children (and, in a sequel, pets). But it is 2022 and now we can laugh at how very unsettling he looks.
We’re also going to cut this one a little bit of slack because this baby is technically a fetus and his scenes take place in Kirstie Alley’s uterus, so it’s not like you could use a
real baby. Options (and 1989 technology) were somewhat limited. That said, we really, really hate the idea of a creepy fake baby like this occupying our insides. Dawn, Trainspotting Trainspotting is a cult classic that tells the stories of heroin addicts living in Scotland in the ‘90s. It was a breakout role for our internet boyfriend Ewan McGregor and the emotional crescendo of the film comes when his character, Renton, is forced to quit cold turkey. Locked in his room, Renton is haunted by the ghosts of his past, including “Baby Dawn,” his friends’ daughter, who died under tragic circumstances. (Was it SIDS? Was it neglect? Did she get into her parents’ stash? It’s never made clear.)
But whereas the Baby Dawn we saw earlier in the movie is a cute, normal child, the Baby Dawn in Renton’s fever dream is... well, now she’s part of our collective fever dreams as well. The robotic “baby” crawls on the ceiling and its head spins 180 degrees, reminiscent of
The Exorcist, her face swollen and distorted.
Probably the best anti-drug PSA we’ve ever seen, TBH...
Now go hug your real, not creepy babies. You’ve earned it.