Horror films are full of bone-chilling elements, from creepy settings and eerie sound effects to the nightmarish figures of jump scares.
Among the elements found in horror films, haunted and cursed items bring the same kind of thrill as demons and ghosts, even without further description or development in the plot.
Haunted and cursed items have a terror-inducing presence unlike any other plot device, able to instill fear just by appearing on camera—especially when shown from disturbing angles.
They can also be used alongside demonic figures and paranormal happenings for the perfect jump scare. Most of the time, they appear to be the things causing chaos simply with their presence.
You don’t always need to see Valak, Bathsheba, Pennywise, or a black bride to feel dread. Here are some of the best haunted and cursed items in horror movies that’ll send shivers down your spine.
10. Music Boxes
Most music boxes are works of art, with a fine melody and relaxing tune. But when it gets old and rusty, the tune shifts and goes off in ways that seem to feel darker and more sinister.
A music box is an uncommon item that’s rarely found in horror films, but when it does appear, it’s always good for dread. Remember the introduction of Anabelle in The Conjuring? It was in the mirror of a creepy music box! A memorable example, for sure.
Lifting up a veil in a wedding ceremony is one of the highlights of any movie featuring heartfelt romance. But in a horror movie, it hides the face of an evil being or someone with a pale, twisted face with black eyes and possibly a wide mouth. No one would ever lift it up!
Insidious made good use of the veil with the ghost of Parker Crane portraying a black bride who wore a black veil. For an example of a white veil in horror movies, The Curse of La Llorona features a sinister bride with a veil on its face who brings horror to her scenes.
In some superstitions and beliefs, mirrors reflect not only physical bodies but also the souls of the deceased who get trapped inside. This is a common trope in horror movies, where ghosts and evil beings reside in mirrors and cause pain or death to unlucky ones.
There are films that have antique mirrors that look like they hold tons of souls of the dead, accumulated from all the deaths that occured during the years it was passed down from generation to generation.
Some films even make public restroom mirrors scary, which are wide enough to see reflections of spirits in the corner, blankly staring back. Mirrors is one such horror film that makes creative use of the mirror, featuring a sinister reflection that can kill real bodies.
Cameras are dreadful because you might find that something scary was standing behind you without your knowledge. In horror movies, photographs can capture sinister forces lurking in the background—a real-life phenomenon that many paranormal fanatics fixate on.
Some cameras can also predict the future, such as how or when a character will die. Polaroid features a camera that delivers a tragic death to those whose pictures are taken with it.
The Ring movie franchise popularized the use of videos and videotapes in spreading fear and terror. It’s not actually the tape that’s cursed, but what’s recorded and seen on it—and those who see it, die.
Sinister, on the other hand, makes it more haunted with the murders of different families recorded in Super 8 films. This movie features mysteries in the film, the video, the missing family member, along with the unknown cameraman.
Much like an old mansion, a deep well can hold all sorts of dark secrets down where no one looks. Many films use wells as a setting for murders, accidental deaths, and suicides—and that makes it a perfect location for roaming ghosts and vengeful spirits.
In Ring, we see one of the most iconic horror images of all time as the iconic Sadako emerges from a well. Then, the night of terror begins.
Dolls are little girls’ friends and tea time partners, but they can also be intensely creepy. It’s one of the most prominent cursed and haunted items featured in horror films.
Some films add twists, like demonic presences, to make their dolls even more terrifying. A good example is Anabelle of The Conjuring’s universe. And then there’s Chucky of Child’s Play, who’s a cursed living doll that can talk, walk, run, and stab you with a knife.
They’re the reason why some kids aren’t fond of having dolls on their bedside as they sleep. Just the thought of a doll staring at you in the middle of the night is totally creepy!
3. Ventriloquist Dummies
Technically, ventriloquist dummies are indeed dolls—but they’re mechanically more complex in that they have movable parts (especially the mouth and eyes) that make them look like they’re actually talking.
Ventriloquism was an amazing stage act in the past but the dummy itself is terrifying, especially for kids who don’t know the mechanisms of the trick. This became the subject of horror films like Dead Silence, featuring a dummy that’s already creepy even when doing nothing.
2. Ouija Boards
The most common medium when it comes to occultism in horror movies has to be the Ouija board, also known as the talking board or spirit board, which is used by occultists to communicate with the souls of the dead.
The mechanism is simple: you call forth a dead spirit and verbally ask it questions, and it answers using the letters printed on the board.
Horror films like Ouija: Origin of Evil and Veronica feature Ouija boards used to communicate with the spirits of those they love, but they unfortunately call forth evil spirits who trick them into believing they succeeded in summoning who they intended to summon.
Films have since added more twists to make the simple board creepier, like the planchette moving faster than the eye can spell out the words. The faster it goes, the more horrifying and intense the scene gets.
1. Inverted Crucifixes
A crucifix is the common sign of faith in Christianity, but when it’s inverted, it often means evil. Sometimes it appears in the scene already inverted, while other films feature it originally upright and slowly turning upside-down with creepy music playing.
In The Conjuring 2, there’s a scene where a girl named Janet is mysteriously brought to a room full of crucifixes that turn upside-down. It was incorporated with the appearance of a ghostly figure, which worked perfectly for the scene’s jump scare.