There are things that go bump in the night and every house has its secrets. The haunted house has a staple place in scary stories, so there are lots of movies in the genre. Here are our Top 10 Haunted House Movies to make you second-guess those creaky floorboards, at night.
10) The Haunted (1991)
It may be a made-for-TV movie, but that doesn’t detract from how good this movie is. Part of the reason for that, is that it’s a dramatisation of a true story. Allegedly, at least. Depending on whether or not you believe in real ghosts. If you do, then this movie is bound to give you a good shudder. Though, even if you don’t believe in such things, you can just try to suspend disbelief, like you would with any other movie.
The Haunted is about the Smurl family, who hope to start a new life, in a new house. But their family comes under attack by a terrible spiritual force, leaving them powerless in their own home.
9) The Woman In Black (1989/2012)
Originally adapted for film in 1989 and remade in 2012, starring Daniel Radcliffe. The story is regarded as so spooky, that it has even been haunting audiences as a stage show, for over thirty years. Both the 1989 and 2012 versions are excellent, each having their own unique qualities that make them good.
The movie is a Gothic horror, about a young solicitor who is dispatched to a small coastal town, in the north of England, to settle the estate of a reclusive elderly woman, who has died. While staying at her remote house, surrounded by the sea and the desolate marshes, he begins to unravel the life of the deceased spinster, while suffering the haunting presence of a mysterious woman in black.
8) The Conjuring (2013)
The founding movie in James Wan’s Conjuring universe of films, focusing on the works of demonologist husband and wife team, Ed & Lorraine Warren. Supposedly based on real events, The Conjuring follows the familiar pattern of a family moving into a new house, where they experience supernatural events. The focus is split between the paranormal action and the activities of the Warrens, who come to the aid of the bedevilled family.
Should I watch the sequels?
The Conjuring 2 is a little ropey, but Annabelle is a good watch. As for the other movies that take place in James Wan’s Conjuring universe, they’re watchable. The Conjuring 3 (he Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It) is due out soon and is looking good.
7) The Others (2001)
A stand out movie, that brought something new to the haunted house genre. This film balances the supernatural with the psychological, using the spooky events as a means to twist the aura of suspense that builds through the movie.
Nicole Kidman stars as the mother of two children, who have a rare photosensitive condition that means they must stay out of direct sunlight. Seeking to keep her children safe within the walls of her dark home, she comes to believe that her house is haunted.
6) The Haunting (1963)
Based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson, this atmospheric British horror movie, is a milestone in both ghost stories and horror, generally.
The drive of the story centres around Dr. John Markway, who seeks to investigate the reported paranormal activity at old Hill House. He has with him Luke, the heir to the estate, Theodora, a psychic, and Eleanor, a young woman who has experienced paranormal activity in childhood. Although the story is driven by Dr. Markway’s investigation, the real story is Eleanor’s, who experiences the ghostly disturbances intensely, losing the ability to differentiation between real events and what is happening in her own mind. In this way, the film is as much a reflection of mental breakdown, as it is a tale about ghosts.
Should I watch the remake?
The Haunting was remade in 1999. The best part of the remake is the house itself, which is absolutely stunning. But unfortunately, the movie itself falls far of the original.
5) Beetlejuice (1988)
He’s the ghost with the most. Beetlejuice. Just be sure not to say his name three times.
This haunted house movie is different in two ways, first it’s a comedy, and second rather than being about unfortunate people being haunted by ghosts, this movie is about some unfortunate ghosts who are distraught at a new family moving into their house. It’s a lot to deal with, especially when you’re still trying to get your head around being dead, in the first place. Enter Beetlejuice, a ghost who claims to be able to “exorcise the living”. Could he be the answer to their prayers or a bigger problem waiting to happen?
Directed by Tim Burton in his prime, this movie is stylish and twisted in a way that only a Burton movie can be. Starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, and Winona Ryder.
4) Poltergeist (1982)
One of the greatest haunted house movies, ever made. Written and produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Tobe Hooper, it has the hardcore 80’s feel to it. It’s movies like this that are being looked back at, as the inspiration for shows like Stranger Things. So if that’s your kind of thing, you’re sure to love this.
Poltergeist is about a family whose house becomes the centre of a supernatural terror, revolving around their youngest child, Carol Anne. The plot is more unique than your typical haunted house movie, with a few twists thrown in. Most of the special effects still hold up and the film has overall aged well. A remake was released in 2015, but it pales in comparison to the original, so best to stick with the eighties version.
Should I watch the sequels?
Yes. Poltergeist 2 has some great creepiness. Number 3 is the worst of the bunch, but still fairly good.
Should I watch the remake?
No. Seriously. Just, no.
3) The Grudge (2002)
From out of Japan comes Ju-On: The Grudge. An instant classic, this one has the power to creep out even the most hardened viewer.
A suburban house is the residence of a vengeful spirit, who pursues and kills anyone who enters the home. The menacing look, death-rattle sound and slinking movements of the ghost are what make it so creepy, as well as the knowledge that it really can’t be escaped.
A 2004 American remake, starring Sarah Michelle Geller, attempted to capture the story for an English-language audience and, surprisingly, it was for the most part successful. So whether or not you watch The Grudge in the original Japanese or the English remake, is really a matter of preference and whether or not you like subtitles. But whichever one you choose, you’ll be watching an excellent film.
2) The Shining (1980)
Technically speaking, The Shining is about a haunted hotel, not a haunted house. But let’s not quibble over small details. Besides, for the duration of the story, the hotel is serving as a home for the main characters, isolating them from the rest of the world.
Based on the book by Stephen King, this movie adaptation is directed by Stanley Kubrick, who uses his immense skill to conjure an atmosphere of real psychological horror. The Shining focuses on the Torrance family, who go to live and work at the haunted Overlook Hotel during its off-season, so that father, Jack Torrance, can work on his new novel. Charged with looking after the empty hotel, the family have no idea that they are actually sharing the property with a horde of restless spirits.
Starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, this movie is one of the defining moments in both of their careers. Sinister madness and frantic terror, ooze out of their performances.
Although the movie deviates significantly from King’s original story, it is still a monolith of the horror genre. Plus, you can give yourself twice the treat by following it with follow-up movie Dr. Sleep.
1) The Amityville Horror (1979)
Although this movie follows much of the standard haunted house formula (family moves to new house, house is haunted, family spirals), it is probably the definitive haunted house movie.
The George and Kathy Lutz move into a new home, with their three children. But the house holds a secret: a year earlier, it was the site of a horrible mass murder. Something evil continues to lurk in the house and is intent on making the Lutz family its next victim.
Allegedly based on a true story, as reported by the real Lutz family, the Amityville Horror has become famous. It is true that the former resident of the house, Ronald DeFeo Jr, murdered his family in the house, but whether anything supernatural actually happened there, is a matter of debate. However, a good ghosts story is still a good ghost story, and this movie does the business.
A remake of The Amityville Horror was released in 2005, which is also good. So, viewers choice as to which one they prefer. Either way, this movie has earned its place at number 1 in our Top 10 Haunted House Movies.
Crimson Peak (2015)
A wonderful, Gothic horror addition to the haunted house genre, with some evocative special effects and a deeply emotive storyline.
This made-for-TV mockumentary, was revolutionary for its time. Viewers were led to believe that the show was genuine and that the events seen on screen were real. As such, it terrified the British public, when it was broadcast.
The Innkeepers (2011)
On its final weekend of operations, two employees of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, seek to document the paranormal activity in the building. But more lurks in the shadows, than they are prepared for.
What are your favourite haunted house movies? Let us know!
Want more horror? Check out our Top 10 Horror Anthologies To Give You Multiple Nightmares.