If you're in the mood to lose your mind for a few hours, here's our ranked list of the best horror movies set in haunted hospitals or insane asylums. There are a lot of scary movies about asylums, so help us determine the best ones by voting your favorite hospital horror films on this list up or down.
Good scary movies that take place in mental wards, asylums, institutions, or abandoned psychiatric hospitals include The Jacket, Stonehearst Asylum, and The Ninth Configuration. Some of the main characters in these asylum horror movies are actual patients in a mental ward, like in 2018's Unsane. Other films on this list, like Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, see a group of people having to spend the night in an abandoned mental hospital.
What is your favorite scary movie about an asylum or mental hospital? Vote the horror movies about mental asylums on this list up or down to help your favorite scary asylum movies get to the top of the list.
If you enjoy this genre of horror, check out our list of the scariest movies about evil doctors too!
The sequel to John Carpenters' revolutionary horror blockbuster Halloween, Halloween II continues the journey of Laurie Strode and The Shape mere moments after the finale of its predecessor, with Laurie hiding from her haunted killer in a hospital. The decision to set Halloween II in a hospital, while at first seeming a bit odd, was an absolutely genius move by Carpenter. A logical and rational location, Laurie was battled and bruised so the hospital marked the ultimate battleground for the two legends of horror to duke it out. The film takes full advantage of its location, giving some of the franchise's most beloved and adored kills thanks to the tools of the trade.
When an asbestos cleaning crew picks up a job in an abandoned mental hospital, they soon find out that this haunted hospital has shocking and vile secrets that are coming back to life in the most terrifying and masochistic ways. Session 9 is a masterclass on how to properly make an insane asylum feel real and utterly terrifying in film thanks to a superb sense of realism. Filmed through a gritty, almost cheap lens, audiences nearly forget that they are watching a movie, as Session 9 begins to feel more like forbidden-found footage rather than a big-budget blockbuster. Utterly nerve-wracking from start to finish, Session 9 is undoubtedly one of the realist and scariest haunted asylum movies in history.
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The Invisible Man
Desperate to find any semblance of the paranormal in the real world, a group of foolish reality television hosts locks themselves in a haunted psychiatric hospital, and soon find terrors they wouldn't have in their worst nightmares. Rapidly gaining cult status and being regarded as one of the most chilling and haunting films of the 2010s, Grave Encounters feels so eerie thanks to a profound sense of realism. Shot in an actual mental institute, the Riverview Hospital in British Colombia, the film feels almost too real for its own good, giving audiences an utterly horrifying experience.
A beautifully dark and twisted psychological thriller, Gothika follows the plight of a woman currently instituted in a mental institution with no semblance of her memories as she must figure out how to both escape and uncover the truth as to why she is institutionalized. Often lumped into the category of “trashy thriller,” Gothika relishes the absurdity of its premise and utilizes its spooky mental hospital to perfection. Using sleazy and absurd doctors in the hospital to only further instill something is wrong and the location of the film feels almost like a battleground, one audiences desperately want to see their protagonist get out on top of.
A classic tale of forbidden love, Stonehearst Asylum tells the tale of a Harvard Medical School graduate who falls helplessly in love with a patient at a mental institution, only to realize she is locked away for a reason. A fascinating twist on the typical mental hospital movie, Stonehearst Asylum feels like a gothic romance more than a straight horror story, but it is in the shocking twists and turns that it thrives. The said mental hospital playing the perfect background, soon audiences realize that nothing is quite as it seems, and locked behind these walls, you can't always trust the things you see.
Widely regarded as the best entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors continues the story of Nancy Thompson and introduces young Kristen Parker as they struggle to survive against the never-ending wrath of Freddy Kruger. Centering the film in a mental hospital was utterly brilliant as it gave every character in the film reason to doubt what our protagonists were saying. A man is coming to attack them in their dreams? Doesn't sound like something any rational person would say, so why believe them? This perfect back-and-forth helps turn this stereotypical slasher into a classic paranoid thriller that still manages to have all the bloody charm of its predecessors.