Horror movies need to be creative if they want to keep scaring and thrilling an audience that has seen it all. Blood and gore aren’t enough these days—we need something more haunting.
One way is to involve some sort of haunted item or figure. Maybe it gets inherited by an unlucky descendant. Maybe they stumble across it by happenstance. Or maybe it’s an entity that only shows up at night, or in the mirror, or in the attic.
Here are some of the best movies about dolls and other creepy figures that prove how effective this kind of horror can be.
8. Polaroid (2019)
Using an antique camera for selfies isn’t the coolest thing to do—especially when that old-school camera can kill you.
Polaroid is a movie about a girl who finds a polaroid camera in the antique shop where she works. The creepy thing about this camera is that it produces pictures that contain a mysterious photobomber—someone she can’t see, yet keeps appearing in her photos.
Anyone caught in its pictures becomes victim to bad luck. Disturbed by unusual hauntings, she and her friends try to solve the mystery. But as they investigate, they find themselves caught up in a web of tragedy and twisted family histories.
7. Lights Out (2016)
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Lights Out is aptly named, as it’s the kind of movie that’ll make you think twice about turning your lights off before going to bed.
This well-made horror movie features a creepy figure that manifests its physical form when in the dark. It haunts a family whose psychologically ill mother was a part of its tragic past.
The scenes where the lights are turned off bring chills, and there are plenty of jump scares throughout—if you’re into that.
6. Slender Man (2018)
Who wouldn’t be afraid of a tall, slender, and faceless man in a black suit? This creepy figure from the popular internet creepypasta stars as the primary antagonist of Slender Man. He’s said to lurk everywhere, and there are even videos as evidence of his existence.
Though the Slender Man story has been adapted to many forms of media, the 2018 film is the best adaptation with its haunting depictions of the unusually tall figure who abducts and traumatizes its victims.
5. Annabelle (2014)
Are there any horror fans who don’t know about the iconic doll named Annabelle who has brought countless nightmares to weak-hearted viewers? Well, if you haven’t seen it, you need to!
Annabelle is a horror film that features the creepy doll from the Conjuring film franchise. But it’s not a spirit-possessed doll as the exorcist in the movie claims—it’s a doll used by the devil to make contact with the living, so that he can take possession of them.
What’s even creepier about Annabelle is that this doll is said to be based on real-life demonic possession incidents and paranormal cases. The real Annabelle doll is currently locked away in a safe place.
4. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is based on the eponymous book of scary short stories written for children and younger readers. The real horrors of the original book—and the reason why it was so controversial—were its terrifying illustrations by Stephen Gammell.
The movie does its best in adapting the source material to a live-action movie, featuring a collection of nightmarish figures who are brought to life by a mysterious book.
When Stella and Ramon’s friends go missing because of the stories in that book, they try to find a way to stop the ghostly author from writing more stories that come to life beyond the book’s pages.
3. Sinister (2012)
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Sinister is the story of a crime writer who becomes interested in the case of a family who was murdered while living in a single-family house. He even moves his own family into that house so he can get inspiration for the next book he’s writing.
In the attic, he finds a film projector that shows the murders of the former family who lived in the house—as well as the murders of several other families. As the mystery unfolds, he and his family are caught in the supernatural murder case involving the mysterious Mr. Boogie.
2. IT (2017)
Not every kid is fond of clowns—especially clowns who live in the sewers. And if you don’t hate clowns already, IT will make sure you do. This movie features a killer clown who hunts down and kills victims long before they’re even aware of his existence.
Based on the Stephen King novel, IT is a remake of the 1990 TV miniseries. And while the 1990 version introduced many of us to Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the 2017 version starring Bill Skarsgård is the more terrifying one to watch.
1. Dead Silence (2007)
Remember Benson from Toy Story 4, the creepy-looking dummy used in ventriloquism acts? Imagine what would happen if a vengeful spirit possessed him and he started killing people? Terrifying thought.
Dead Silence is a horror movie directed by James Wan, featuring a ventriloquist dummy named Billy that’s possessed by the spirit of a dead ventriloquist who was humiliated.
Ryan Kwanten plays James Ashen, a man who investigates the death of his wife after he received Billy the dummy as an anonymous “gift” by mail. His investigation leads him down haunted and bloody roads.