There’s no place like home. Especially when it’s invaded by demonic spirits.
Anyone who’s spent a night alone in an old creaky house knows how terrifying a bump in the night or a shadow in the corner can be. But it’s just a house!
Well, not in the case of these movies. Whether it’s the troubled spirits of an ancient burial ground or demons from the pit of hell, these haunted house movies prove that home is where the horror is.
1. The Shining
Yes, we know horror master Stephen King is less than thrilled with Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of his chilling tale. Sorry, Stephen—horror obsessives the world over agree that The Shining is one of the creepiest haunted house films ever made. Jack Torrance hopes his new role as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel will be good for his family and his sanity. Perhaps he'll even get some writing done. Little does Jack know that some restless eternal residents lurk in the hotel—from the rotting lady in the tub to the sinister Delbert Grady—and they fully intend on making the Torrance family's stay a living hell.
2. The Others
An eerie country manor, spooky, sun-starved children, a mother who may be coming unglued. This gothic supernatural horror from 2001 terrified moviegoers with its otherworldly scares. Its isolated setting, spectacularly creepy conclusion, and Nicole Kidman’s haunting performance make this a must-see horror flick … perfect for a rainy day home alone.
The haunted house import from Japan centers on a possessed residence that literally gobbles up its doomed visitors. A group of school girls unwittingly enter a haunted house of horrors. Demonic possession, reanimated body parts out for blood, and downright bonkers fun house effects ensue. Fun fact: studio execs in Japan originally planned to produce a movie like Jaws. Yet when director and producer Nobuhiko Obayashi discussed the pitch with his young daughter, she revealed her own childhood fears—which were far more twisted and inventive than a rehashed shark movie. Thus, Hausu was born.
4. The Haunting
Skip the overcooked 1999 remake; the 1963 original still delivers psychological terror. Adapted from Shirley Jackson’s 1959 horror novel, The Haunting of Hill House, this film centers on a parapsychologist who recruits two women to stay in Hill House and determine if paranormal activity is present. Is something sinister afoot in this haunted old home?
Sometimes, a killer deal is just too good to be true. In the case of the Freeling family. their recently acquired home bought at a bargain price was built over an ancient burial ground. Directed by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Tobe Hooper, this 1982 horror classic features swirling spirit vortexes, clown dolls crawling to life, and one terrifying scene involving a flooded swimming pool filled with floating corpses. They're heeeere.
6. The Conjuring
The scariest part of this haunted house flick? It's based on real-life events. 2013’s The Conjuring centers on the Perron family and the ancient evil haunting their home in rural Rhode Island. Frustrated and terrified by the malevolent forces afoot, the Perrons enlist the help of famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Horror maestro James Wan conjures a truly sinister flick here, employing in-camera scares and a creeping dread atmosphere for maximum effect.
7. The Changeling
This chilling flick draws its scares from the real-life experiences of screenwriter Russell Hunter, who encountered a series of strange events while living at the Henry Treat Rodgers Mansion in Denver, Colorado. Starring George C. Scott, The Changeling is a thrilling combination of haunted house horror and revenge from beyond the grave. Following the deaths of his wife and daughter, John Russell moves into an empty old estate. Yet he soon realizes he's not alone: the mischievous spirit of a young boy haunts his home. At first, Russell wants to rid himself of the spirit—that is, until he unearths the truth behind the boy's demise. Now Russell knows justice must be served.
8. Paranormal Activity
It's easy to look back and chuckle at 2007’s Paranormal Activity—especially after all the hammy sequels it spawned. What was all the fuss about, anyway? A few creaking doors, some sleepwalking captured on a night vision camera. But we dare you to dim the lights and queue up the original when you're home alone tonight, and see if you don't scream bloody murder. Relying on darkness, jump scares, and shaky handheld cam aesthetics, the original Paranormal Activity is still a terrifying treat. And it’s still creepy—whether you're brave enough to admit it or not.
9. The Orphanage
Drafty old orphanages rank right up there with creaky mansions and abandoned asylums as superb horror movie backdrops. In this 2007 Spanish flick, a woman named Laura returns to the orphanage of her youth with plans to transform it into a home for disabled children. Not long after arriving, however, Laura's adopted son vanishes. Soon, Laura realizes that a group of child spirits still call the old orphanage home. So Laura enters into a dangerous game of hide-and-seek with the other side in hopes of rescuing her son. And is it ever a good idea to play games with ghosts?
10. The Uninvited
This 1944 horror flick is remembered as one of the first to present supernatural forces as genuine phenomena. Prior to this, paranormal activity of the silver screen was generally used for comedic effect, or revealed to be the handiwork of living people. Rick and his sister Pamela think they scored the deal of a lifetime when they secure an abandoned mansion on the coast of England. Not so fast, bro and sis. Soon they’re experiencing eerie events and hearing the spectral sobs of an unseen woman. The movie culminates in a séance that reveals the identity of the spirit—in an ending that shocked moviegoers of the era.
11. The Amityville Horror
The Amityville Horror fascinated—and terrified—readers around the world when it hit bookshelves in 1977. Two years later, the book's silver screen adaptation took that fear to a whole new level. Both the book and movie focus on the real-life experiences of the Lutz family, who claimed they were attacked by supernatural forces in their new abode at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. Reports included phantom attacks, slamming doors, oozing walls, and a sinister invisible presence named Jody. While the claims of the Lutz family have since been called into question, the grisly true story of 112 Ocean Avenue's prior owners is enough to freak you out in your own home: A year before the Lutzes arrived, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. executed six members of his family with a shotgun. The Lutz family fled in the night after their eerie experiences reached a fever pitch. The infernal dwelling changed hands in the years that followed, and even updated its street address and altered its appearance in an attempt to shake its reputation. As of February 2017, it sold for $605K.
Featured still from "The Others" via Dimension Films