Mannequins are one of those things that are somewhat necessary even though they are undeniably scary. And as if they weren’t creepy enough on their own, now you have to deal with moving mannequins – or cyberquins as they’re called – that can run, walk, cycle, and generally motion like human beings. Be warned, the following set is not for the faint of heart.
The creepiest of all creepy mannequins are of course the ones that look like children. Why else would there be dozens of horror flicks with deranged ventriloquist’s dummies, deranged dolls, and maniacal mannequins? We can in part thank Don Mancini and his cult-favorite Child’s Play series for making us perpetually look over our shoulders for children of the devil.
Though many have tried to explain our irrational and inexplicable fear of mannequins, there is no concrete explanation thus far. Some, like the psychologist Ernst Jentsch, attribute this pediophobia to the uncertainty we feel about an object being animate or inanimate when the object resembles a living thing so closely that it can cause confusion about its nature.
Others, like roboticist Masahiro Mori, believe in the uncanny valley hypothesis that argues, as robots become increasingly human-like, we have an increasingly positive reaction to them, however, after a while we reach a point where this increasingly positive response starts to become one of repulsion. What happens is that if something looks human but is ‘obviously’ non-human, the resemblance is endearing, however, when the non-humanness becomes not so obvious (as in the case of these mannequins) we begin to feel disturbed, repulsed, and in some cases worried and fearful.
In popular culture, it’s not merely the mannequin that is scary but audio and visual cues are used to present overtones of violent insanity and create a strong feeling of insecurity that magnifies both our pediophobia as well as the uncanny valley effect.
Though most instances in which mannequins are used prey on our fears, thanks to DC Comics, there may still be hope. DC’s Brother Power the Greek is a mannequin that comes to life and uses his super powers for good (and incidentally has a group of hippie friends to help him out).