16 Underrated Haunted House Movies That Remind Us To Leave The Light On

List Rules
Vote up the haunted house movies that keep you up at night.

While mutated creatures, vampires, or zombies are less likely to continue scaring us once the films are over, haunted house movies are a subgenre capable of creating lasting dread. The uncertainty of the supernatural may be enough reason to cause audiences to leave the lights on after watching a well-made haunted house film, especially in the case of these underrated gems. Even for those who have not seen them, classics like The Shining and Poltergeist have become cultural trademarks. And in recent years, Blumhouse Productions has popularized the subgenre with hit franchises like The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity, and Insidious. The films here may not be as well-known or remembered, but they are still capable of scaring audiences lucky enough to discover them.

Early haunted house films by Georges Méliès such as The House of the Devil (1896) and The Haunted Castle (1897) provided opportunities to experiment with the medium and visual effects, though they were more fantastical and whimsical than frightening. Even the early sound films with haunted houses were more comedic than scary, but this changed once the horror genre embraced the narratives in the 1940s. Since then, these specific supernatural films have provided horror with some of its most chilling stories. Whether it's doors and drawers opening on their own, apparitions appearing in the dark of night, or the possession of inhabitants and inanimate objects, these films feature tropes that continue to excite and terrify audiences.

Which of these underrated haunted house movies are scary enough to keep you up at night? Vote up your favorites below!


  • 1
    2,096 VOTES

    Adapted from Richard Matheson’s 1958 novel, Stir of Echoes involves working-class skeptic Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon), who unlocks the ability to see spirits after being hypnotized by his sister-in-law (Illeana Douglas).

    The film was praised by critics but was overshadowed by the success and similarities of The Sixth Sense, which had just been released the month before. The R rating made competing with M. Night Shyamalan's smash hit even more difficult, and the film was sadly underappreciated upon release. Boasting some truly terrifying sequences directed by David Koepp and an impressive performance by Bacon, Stir of Echoes is a hidden gem.

    • Actors: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas, Liza Weil, Kevin Dunn
    • Released: 1999
    • Directed by: David Koepp
    2,096 votes

    Available On:

  • 2
    2,129 VOTES

    When ghost hunter Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) is killed on the job, his home is left to distant nephew Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub) and his children. The family becomes trapped in the house and realizes it is a prison for 13 dangerous spirits.

    Thirteen Ghosts is a remake of the campy 1960 William Castle film and updated with bold shocks and gore. While critics panned the film, it has developed a cult following over the years. Hollywood was preoccupied with remaking horror classics during this period, and at least with Thirteen Ghosts, the film being remade was far from perfect. The result is a fun revision of the haunted house narrative, with 13 unique spirits in on the action.

    • Actors: Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Alec Roberts
    • Released: 2001
    • Directed by: Steve Beck
    2,129 votes

    Available On:

  • 3
    895 VOTES

    Single mother Carla Moran (Barbara Hershey) is violently sexually assaulted in her home by an invisible assailant, which she comes to believe is a malevolent spirit. Despite repeated assaults, Moran struggles to get anyone to believe her and find a way to stop the poltergeist.

    The number of men who are skeptical of Moran’s claims can be read as an allegory for the experience of any woman who has had to defend claims of assault. Even without this theory, the nature of the haunting in The Entity is undeniably unique.

    • Actors: Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, George Coe, David Labiosa, Margaret Blye
    • Released: 1982
    • Directed by: Sidney J. Furie
    895 votes

    Available On:

    subscription

  • 4
    728 VOTES

    The Orphanage is a Spanish Gothic haunted house movie, produced with the help of Guillermo del Toro and serving as the feature directorial debut of J.A. Bayona. The story follows a woman named Laura (Belén Rueda) who purchases the large estate that was previously the orphanage she grew up in with intentions of turning it into a home for children with disabilities. Upon arriving in the dilapidated estate, Laura’s son (Roger Príncep) goes missing after claiming to have made friends with a ghost child haunting the home.

    Along with being a spectacular example of a modern Gothic horror film, The Orphanage has a strong narrative full of twists that make the scares even more impactful. While some haunted house films simply use the story to put characters in situations of spooky occurrences, the apparitions in The Orphanage are always in service of an already compelling narrative.

    • Actors: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Geraldine Chaplin, Montserrat Carulla, Mabel Rivera
    • Released: 2007
    • Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
    728 votes

    Available On:

  • When the Campbell family moves into a new house formerly used as a mortuary, they find themselves frequented by spirits haunting the location. Unable to move because of the financial constraints put on them while treating their cancer-stricken son, Matt (Kyle Gallner), parents Sara (Virginia Madsen) and Peter (Martin Donovan) take measures to get rid of the malevolent supernatural presence.

    Along with The Conjuring series, the inspiration for this story was based on a case investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren. Following the global financial crisis of 2008, especially the housing bubble bursting, the narrative in The Haunting in Connecticut takes on real-world parallels, allegorically placed within a haunted house film.

    • Actors: Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, Martin Donovan, Elias Koteas, Amanda Crew
    • Released: 2009
    • Directed by: Peter Cornwell
    1,053 votes

    Available On:

    subscription

  • 6
    597 VOTES
    Dark Water
    Photo: FilmRise

    Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) moves into a new apartment with her 6-year-old daughter while going through a divorce, only to find it is haunted by water-themed apparitions.

    While Dark Water wasn’t as flashy or popular as Ringu or Ju-On: The Grudge, it is one of the smartest J-horror films of the period. The film brilliantly weaves themes of loss and maternal sacrifice into a haunted home narrative. Other Japanese horror films may have more frightening sequences, but few are able to match the emotional impact of Dark Water.

    • Actors: Asami Mizukawa, Fumiyo Kohinata, Hitomi Kuroki, Yu Tokui, Shigemitsu Ogi
    • Released: 2002
    • Directed by: Hideo Nakata
    597 votes