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31 Days of Horror: 7 Scary Possession Films You’ll Wish You’d Never Watched

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One of the most popular types of horror films for many reasons, possession films generally follow the same rules and tropes, be they fifty years old or new releases. A newly purchased house for a family to move in to, an unfortunate discovery and a spirit terrorizing and harassing said family, usually with terrifying and deadly consequences. Throw in some jump scares and an odd, eccentric exorcist and you’ve got a winning formula. Here’s seven of the best possession films the horror genre currently has to offer.

The Exorcist

possession film

Arguably the most famous possession film out there, The Exorcist is has the enviable title of being one of the most profitable horror films ever, as well as setting out a lot of the tropes possession films follow to this day.

After noticing her daughter Regan is acting ‘odd’ by speaking in tongues and in some cases levitating, she asks for help from the local priest, who requests an exorcist to help exorcise the demon possessing her. A lot of infamous scenes follow, including the projectile-vomiting one the film is best known for.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Possession film


A completely different take on the possession film sub-genre, The Exorcism of Emily Rose takes place mostly in a court room, with the exorcising priest on trial charged with the wrongful death of Emily Rose. Throughout the film flashbacks give us the bone-crunching, contortionist-like scares we expect from a film of this ilk, but it’s different take is one of the main reasons it’s so highly regarded.

Related: My Best Friend’s Exorcism: 80s Teen Horror Throwback

The Conjuring

Possession film

Based loosely on true stories throughout their lives, The Conjuring franchise features Ed and Lorraine Warren, an American couple specializing in hauntings, possessions and so on and heavily adapts their own stories and interviews into the ever-expanding franchise we have now.

The first film in the franchise follows the couple as they attempt to help a family, who having bought and moved into a new house, find it to be less of the American Dream, and more of an American Nightmare. After finding a basement they weren’t aware of during their purchase, things go off the rails as ghostly goings-on occur, before the mother of the family is possessed and attempts to murder the family.


Possession film

Another famous possession film, Poltergeist follows a family as they commune with a bunch of what first appear to be friendly spirits, primarily communicating through the television set. As things usually do, events occur and things take a turn for the worse, with the spirits becoming less than friendly and more benevolent and violent.

Turning to a parapsychologist for help in ridding their home from these malicious spirits and to help find the now disappeared daughter Carol Ann, this film is equal parts horrifying and full of pee-yourself jump scares.


Possession film

Ari Aster’s Hereditary was his feature length directorial debut, but you wouldn’t know it when watching it. The film is a slow burn, with little hints scattered throughout the film hinting at what’s to come, making it a rewarding re-watch. Not particularly a horrifying possession film in the traditional sense, especially the first two thirds, the last act of the film ramps up the horror in some particularly gruesome ways.The scene with the cheese wire will go down in horror history, you know the one.

Aster followed Hereditary with Midsommar, proving it wasn’t a fluke with his abilities, and is slowly carving himself a little niche in the horror genre as a slow-burning, what-is-going-on director with his two films so far, and that hopefully only gets better the more he releases.

The Evil Dead

Possession film

The original film of the long-standing franchise from Sam Raimi starring Bruce Campbell as the affable and lovable Ash brought a new type of horror to the wider audience. With a lot less humor than its sequel, the first leaned heavily into the camp side of things, but maintained a horror feeling throughout, scaring audiences with weird and wonderful scenes that’d be parodied and live on in pop-culture to this day.

Related: It’s dark, a very adult Evil Dead movie’ Bruce Campbell Talks Next Movie After Doctor Strange 2

The Taking of Deborah Logan

Possession film

A group of college students arrive at what they think is a family property with the intent in cataloging the elderly mother’s battle with dementia. What was originally thought to be dementia turns out to be something considerably more dangerous and supernatural, and the film follows the students and the daughter of the afflicted trying their best to get to the bottom of what’s going on, survive and also help the possessed mother.

That’s five of the best possession films the horror genre has to offer, but there’s definitely plenty of others you could gorge yourself with. What possession films would you have included?

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Written by Luke Addison

Luke Addison is a writer for Fandomwire. He's an avid consumer of all things movie, TV, comics and gaming, especially Marvel.

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