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Occasionally—when the circumstances strike—the houses that we live in can cause the greatest amount of fear. Our homes are supposed to be a place of sanctuary, and when that sanctuary gets taken away it can be devastating.
Perhaps this is why horror films featuring haunted houses are so engaging. They get to the heart of this idea, and the subversive, almost mundane function of a killer house is why I enjoy this subgenre so much.
If you’re a fan of horror too, you have to watch these movies about haunted houses!
Since the 1970s The Amityville Horror franchise has been putting out movie after movie. The two films we’re going to recommend is the original Amityville Horror from 1979, and the 2005 remake of it.
In the 1979 version, a young couple—George and Kathy Lutz—purchase a beautiful home for them and their children in Amityville, New York. In the 2005 remake, the Lutz family once again moves into their new home, but learns that its low price point has to do with the fact that a man murdered his entire family on the property several decades ago.
A bit wary about this history—but too poor to pass up the deal—the Lutz still spring for it. Unfortunately their idyllic life soon goes south when George starts acting strange due to the supernatural forces that lurk in the basement.
Winchester has not made as much buzz as some of the other films on this list, but with Helen Mirren as the titular heiress we definitely think you should give it a look.
In the early 1900s, rifle heiress Sarah Winchester is haunted. After receiving a huge inheritance she becomes convinced that she’s being stalked by the spirits who were killed by Winchester firearms. When a company doctor comes to strip her of corporate control, he discovers that her ghosts might be real.
The Conjuring is the first film in The Conjuring franchise, but it’s the only one we’re going to recommend. Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren decide to check out a Rhode Island farmhouse at the request of the Perron family, who have been experiencing weird, supernatural events.
The Woman in Black is an adaptation of a 1983 novel of the same name. It stars Daniel Radcliffe as a lawyer who has to retrieve some documents from an estate. When he arrives, the villagers around it are very unwelcoming. It doesn’t take him long to discover that their distrust is due to the house itself, which is possessed by a spirit that is targeting the town’s children.
Not to be confused with Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House (I know, tongue twister), House on Haunted Hill follows a group of strangers who are offered one million dollars if they stay in an abandoned building for the entire night.
The group that arrives doesn’t believe that the place is haunted, but as the night drags on they realize they are in serious danger. They also discover that the haunting is directly tied to the previous occupants of the place: a group of inmates who rebelled against the head of the house’s organization.
6. The Shining
The Shining is considered a classic of modern cinema: not just for horror, but film overall. It’s also the film on this list that left the strongest impression on me, so if you’re looking for a horror movie that lingers in your mind, watch this!
Based on a 1977 novel by Stephen King, The Shining follows Jack and his family as they move to a mountain hotel to act as caretakers. Simultaneously, they are there to help Jack recover from rampant drinking issues and work on his book. Unbeknownst to Jack’s wife, the previous caretaker went crazy and killed his entire family. The spirits that linger in this place begin to have an undue influence on Jack, who is urged to repeat this gory history: much in the same way as George from The Amityville Horror.
7. Crimson Peak
This film is not so much horror as it is a gothic romance, but it’s directed by Guillermo del Toro and is absolutely gorgeous to look at.
In Crimson Peak, aspiring novelist Edith Cushing meets the English siblings Thomas Sharpe and his sister Lucille. When Edith becomes romantically involved with Thomas, she marries him and returns to England—only to discover that his mansion is haunted.
Personal Shopper has less to do with haunted estates and more to do with the ghosts that we keep close to our hearts. Starring Kristen Stewart as Maureen—an assistant for a well-known celebrity—the story starts off with Maureen still reeling from the death of her brother. When her brother dies, Maureen tries to “contact” him, opening up a can of worms with other spirits who may be lurking.
9. The Others
The Others stars Nicole Kidman as Grace Stewart: a young wife who lives with her chronically ill children on a gloomy island estate. When strange events begin to occur, Grace discovers that her house may be haunted and that her children are in danger. The Others has one of the best twist endings I’ve seen in a horror film, and without giving that ending away I strongly recommend that you watch it.
Finally, we’re going to recommend the first film in the Paranormal Activity franchise. Like The Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity is part of the “found footage” horror genre that was popular during the 2000s.
Homebody Katie and her significant other Micah move into a new home, but Katie is convinced she’s being haunted by an evil ghost. Believing it to be her overactive imagination, Micah sets up a camera in their bedroom to record any strange occurrences while they sleep.
To their horror, they do capture strange events on camera—which get stronger and more severe as the supernatural entity gets bolder.
Looking for more horror films to watch? Check out our list of monster movies you absolutely have to see.