Say your prayers before diving into this list of back-breaking, bone-twisting, body-levitating sacrilegious cinema. Otherwise, you may face the same fate as the marked subjects of these freaky flicks: tossed into the darkest circle of hell, desperate for scripture and jugs of holy water.
From infernal attacks to birthing the spawn of Satan, here are nine possession and exorcism movies that are the holiest of the unholy.
Not to be confused with Darren Aronofsky’s that deals with inner demons of another kind, Requiem is the German gem that rocked the film festival circuit back in 2006. Set in 1970s Germany, the based-on-fact story follows 21-year-old Michaela, a devout Roman Catholic and epileptic sufferer whose faith is tested once she goes away to college and off her meds. It’s not your typical exorcism horror, but its descent into madness will conjure a few OMGs.
8. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Though the majority of the world knows Jennifer Carpenter as the do-gooder cop sibling of a methodical maniac on , genre fans know her as “that one girl who made those wack faces in that one scary movie.” Part courtroom drama, part unnerving ghost tale, Emily Rose is based on a true story about a priest accused of murder after a teenage girl dies during his exorcism.
7. The Entity
This 1982 entry into entity erotica centers on a single mother whose bed and body are occupied by an unseen sinister force. Based on the real-life account of Doris Bither, a single mom from California who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a , The Entity forever turned us off bubble baths. Plus, it has .
6. [REC]/[REC 2]
Like Tarantino’s saga, directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza’s Spanish camcorder horror series should be watched in one sitting. In [REC], we’re introduced to the infestation rotting an apartment complex from within, courtesy of a news reporter and her cameraman. But it isn’t until [REC 2], which begins with a SWAT team heading into the now-quarantined dwelling, that we learn the infestation’s demonic origin—and appreciate the first installment that much more.
5. Rosemary’s Baby
When it comes to movies about birthing the Antichrist, Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby is the Holy Grail. Not only does the film’s leading lady, Mia Farrow, dine on raw liver to give the flick an authentic flavor, its dizzying six-minute that leaves Rosemary with Satan’s spawn in her belly is all too real—even to this day.
4. Paranormal Activity
For much of this shoestring-budget horror, we’re led to believe a suburban couple is rooming with a demon that does some very creepy things. Like starting fires, defying gravity, and leaving hoof prints throughout the house. It’s not until the third act that we learn the true source of evil—and the amount of terror she’s capable of unleashing.
3. The Last Exorcism
When we first saw the trailer for this film in 2010, we weren’t expecting much: found footage, backwoods Southern wickedness, Professor Lasky as a reverend named Cotton. C’mon, right? But as one should never judge a book by its cover, one shouldn’t judge a film by its 90s-heartthrob lead actor. The Last Exorcism is a legitimately terrifying watch, largely due to its possessed leading lady played by Ashley Bell. Her stewing performance is a cauldron of innocence and sin you want to get mixed up in.
Trust us, you’ve never seen anything like this dramatic shocker from French-German director Andrzej Żuławski. Not buyin’ it? Just . Isabelle Adjani stars in a role that won her top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981 but took her years to get over playing. Widely banned and dismissed by some as smutty gore porn, Żuławski’s story starts out simple—wife cheats on husband—then explodes into a love triangle possessed by a secular evil and tentacled crimes of passion.
1. The Exorcist
Honestly, were you expecting anything else? When it comes to the pinnacle of religious horror, the power compels us to go with William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece. Not just because he takes one of Hollywood’s little angels and corrupts her from within, but because this killer flick of gore, horror, and one potty-mouthed hellion still scares the pea soup out of us.
"The Last Exorcism" poster via Strike Entertainment; Still from "Requiem" via IFC First Take; Still from "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" via Screen Gems; Still from "The Entity" via Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Still from "[Rec]" via Canal+ España; Still from "Rosemary's Baby" via William Castle Productions; Still from "Paranormal Activity" via Paramount Pictures; Still from "The Last Exorcism" poster via Strike Entertainment; Still from "Possession" via Limelight International; Still from "The Exorcist" via via Warner Bros.