Arts & Entertainment

The 10 Scariest Haunted House Movies Ever Made

These homes are full of bumps in the night.
IMAGE Warner Bros.
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You know the drill: A young, attractive family moves into a new house, learns it's inhabited by ghosts, and, for some reason, they refuse to leave! There you have the basic trope of the haunted house movie. And while there are deviations of that simple plot, there are also plenty of other ways in which horror filmmakers have tinkered with the horror subgenre. Here are the best movies about haunted houses ever made. 

10 Paranormal Activity  

IMAGE: Paramount Pictures

Almost a decade after The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity reignited the found-footage horror film (and sparked a new film franchise with five sequels) with its inventive take on the haunted house movie. It follows the familiar trope: a couple moves into a new house, only to find it's haunted. But the twist: they record the hauntings with security cameras. 

9 I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House 

IMAGE: Netflix

Director Osgood Perkins (son of Psycho star Anthony Perkins) helms this mystery about a live-in nurse, Lily (Ruth Wilson), who moves into the remote New England mansion owned by her patient, an elderly horror novelist who suffers from dementia. Soon Lily starts to question if the unsettling things that are taking place in this house came straight from one of her patient's books.

8 House 

IMAGE: Toho

You haven't lived until you've seen this cult classic Japanese horror-comedy in which seven schoolgirls travel to a strange house that slowly devours each of them. House stars amateur actors and features some downright bonkers special effects, including a monstrous animated cat. 

7 The Others 

IMAGE: Dimension Films

Alejandro Amenábar wrote and directed this gothic horror film starring Nicole Kidman as the tightly wound mother of two sickly children who cannot tolerate the sunlight. When three new servants arrive at their estate, supernatural activity begins in their dark and dreary home. With the children seeing ghosts and the mother slowly losing her mind, the tension builds and culminates in a surprising twist ending. 

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6 Hereditary 

IMAGE: A24

After her estranged mother dies, Annie (Toni Collette) begins to notice some peculiar activities around her house. After another shocking tragedy, Annie begins to spiral out of control. Is there a supernatural force attempting to manipulate her family, or is it all in her head? 

5 The Amityville Horror 

IMAGE: American International Pictures

It's an essential haunted house story, one that launched a series of sequels (and a remake) and set the standard for the sub-genre in the last four decades. James Brolin and Margot Kidder play a couple who move their family into a house whose previous residents died in a shocking mass murder. Full-fledged horror, as you might expect, quickly ensues. 

4  The Conjuring  

IMAGE: Warner Bros.

Inspired by true events (and starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-live paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren), James Wan's horror thriller takes a familiar trope—a family moves into old farmhouse, only to discover it's haunted—and ups the ante with edge-of-your-seat thrills and deeply unsettling frights. 

3 The Shining

IMAGE: Warner Bros.

Why settle for a haunted house when you can have a haunted hotel? One of the greatest films ever made, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel uses its source material as the foundation for a terrifying exercise in psychological horror. Jack Nicholson plays a troubled writer who moves his family into the Overlook Hotel for the off-season, but he soon descends into madness as the resort's longterm supernatural guests play games with his mind.

2 Poltergeist  

IMAGE: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

A suburban California family is terrorized by a host of invisible ghosts and monsters—some playful, some downright evil—in this Steven Spielberg-penned film. It's full of jump scares, ominous moods, and psychological horror, and it features one of the most iconic lines in the history of scary movies: "They're heeeere."

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1 The Haunting

IMAGE: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Based on Shirley Jackson's brilliant novel The Haunting of Hill House, this film finds a small group of guests participating in a paranormal study of a supposedly haunted mansion. There are horrifying bumps in the night, but it may not just be ghosts who are the cause of the guests' frights—but the 3spirit of the house itself.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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