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.
Creepy and atmospheric, The Others relies on mood to instill fear in the audience. This haunted house film is about a mother and her two photosensitive children near the end of World War II. After new caretakers show up out of the blue, the children start reporting strange "other" people living in the house.
While it starts out with the standard haunted house tropes, skepticism followed by terror, this film offers a plot twist that's far from what's expected. The washed out and foggy setting provides the perfect backdrop for this film.
Actors: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley, Fionnula Flanagan, Keith Allen, + more
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Loosely based on one of the investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren, this 2013 film takes place in Rhode Island at an old farmhouse in 1971. The family living there starts getting haunted by some kind of evil entity. They summon the Warrens, who must save the family from their horrific ordeal.
Like most haunting films, this starts out slow and escalates. There are plenty of scares sprinkled throughout that are coupled with frightening imagery and an eerie atmosphere. While this film does not reinvent the wheel, the high production value, the true story aspect, and the competent execution make it well worth the watch.
Actors: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Joey King, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, + more
Directed by: James Wan
In the 1963 film, The Haunting, a paranormal investigator invites two psychic women and a skeptical man to help him with his research in a haunted mansion. Hill House has a history of violence, as so often is the case with haunted places. Things begin to escalate as soon as the foursome enters the spooky old mansion.
The atmospheric film relies on cinematography instead of gore to produce its scares. The house itself is the main character in this horror classic, and it plays the part well.
Actors: Claire Bloom, Lois Maxwell, Julie Harris, Russ Tamblyn, Richard Johnson, + more
Directed by: Robert Wise
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