Good haunted house movies manage to show the audience something new using a classic story structure. While many people think that all haunted house movies are horror films, they actually aren't. Just like how the best horror films ever made don't necessarily need a haunted house, movies about paranormal activities in a home don't need to be horror. That said, terror goes a long way in providing a thrilling sensation in a movie, which is why horror and haunted houses often go hand-in-hand.
The best haunted house films are about the past and its effect on the present. As is the case with stories of real haunted houses, the movie characters must come to terms with a truth that they have been running from. After all, a haunted house is the physical manifestation of the dark corners of the mind, hiding ghosts behind doors people are too scared to open. This list represents the best haunted house movies ever made (remakes not included). Vote up the most spine-tingling movies about paranormal homes that not only capitalize on terror, but also use quality cinematography.
Steven Spielberg creates a different kind of horror film with Poltergeist. The 1982 film follows a family as they move into a newly constructed suburban home. Strange things begin to happen and the family discovers they're being haunted not by a ghost, but by a poltergeist. Chairs are moving, cabinets are flying, and there's full-scale psychokinetic disturbances.
The creepy clown doll and the mirror scene are as scary as hell, but still the film feels more like a blockbuster than a traditional horror. In fact, it's got Spielberg written all over it. The special effects are excellent, even by today's standards, and the acting is fantastic. The story follows the traditional haunting rules and yet remains unique. This film is a classic.
Actors: Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jane Adams, Saxon Sharbino, + more
Directed by: Sam Raimi, Gil Kenan
In Insidious, technically, the child is haunted and not the house. The film follows many of the haunted house tropes while reinventing others. The film begins when Dalton, the child, has an incident in the attic and falls into a coma. When medical science fails, the family calls in the paranormal investigators.
The strength of the film is that it takes the existence of the supernatural for granted. It doesn't waste much time on the stubborn empiricist trope and dives right into the meat of the story. As such, the film will appeal to those who appreciate the archetypes and metaphors of the haunted house story. The cinematography, special effects, and overall imagery are frightening, even to the desensitized modern audience, and the plot offers a fresh take on a classic haunting tale.
Actors: Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Wilson, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, + more
Directed by: James Wan
Vincent Price delivers a masterful performance as an eccentric millionaire in this 1959 horror classic. Along with his fourth wife Annabelle, Price decides to hold a party in a haunted house where seven people have already met their demise. The guests are five strangers who will receive ten thousand dollars if they survive the entire night. As the doors lock at midnight, the campy horror is in full swing.
Riddled with black humor, this film leaves the audience satisfied.
Actors: Vincent Price, Richard Long, Elisha Cook, Jr., Alan Marshal, + more
Directed by: William Castle
Less-than-loveable true crime author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) decides to move his family into a house where an entire family was murdered as he writes a novel on said murder. In the attic, he finds a box of old home movies with some seriously disturbing images in them. During his investigation, he discovers a series of murders that are somehow linked to the ancient Pagan deity, Bagul.
This movie is scary. It isn't just the jump scares or the frightening visage of Bagul. Everything, from the soundtrack to the cinematography to the script, works together to instill a deep sense of dread. The plot is relatively unpredictable and the film is refreshingly innovative compared to its contemporaries (which are mostly remakes anyway). Any flaws in the film are forgivable because of references to Truman Capote that any literary fan will surely enjoy.
Actors: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Tavis Smiley, + more
Directed by: Scott Derrickson