There are so many sub-genres in horror. The vampire movie, zombie apocalypses, torture porn. But there’s nothing more classic and purely fright-inducing than the things that go bump in the night. To celebrate this week’s release of The Invoking, we bring you our Top 13 Favorite Haunted House Movies.
Is anything creepier than when your own house turns against you? You can (theoretically) get away from zombies, vamps, slashers and werewolves. But when your own home sweet home is the enemy… it’s tough to recover from that.
We have some great Honorable Mentions to start off with. Fantastic director James Wan really seems to have a knack for the haunted house movie as he has one entry on the list itself and also gets a nod for Insidious, a creative look at the inner, an outer, workings of a haunted house. A Haunting in Connecticut was impressive as, in addition to the actual haunting going on, the audience was forced to question if the paranormal events were real or a hallucination from medicinal side effects.
Additionally we must mention the underrated The Sentinel as well as The Haunting, Burnt Offerings, Shutter Island, The Legend of Hell House and, for the kiddies, Monster House.
And now, on to the Top 13 Haunted House Movies!
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Paranormal Activity got movie theaters screaming again. With a razor-thin budget, director Oren Peli took Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston (who played Micah and Katie… the budget was so small they couldn’t even afford to change their names!) and about $15,000 and created a movie that knew how to get under an audience’s collective skin. Shot in the found-footage style, Paranormal Activity went from its meager beginnings to eventually earning over $200 million and spawning four sequels, all of which were huge box office earners themselves. But it wasn’t the box office take that was the most impressive thing about Paranormal Activity, it was the ability of the film to make the audience afraid, not just with jump scares, but with brilliantly built tension. The movie gives you just enough to keep you interested until the next big scream. A wonderfully frightful experience.
The Changeling (1980)
While perusing titles in a video store (remember them?), I once asked a clerk, “What’s the scariest movie you ever saw?” His answer was quick and sure: The Changeling. George C. Scott plays John Russell, a character based on real-life writer Russell Hunter, who claimed to have experienced paranormal events while staying at the Henry Treat Rogers mansion in Denver, Colorado. The story is a fantastic tale heavy on the scares and full of mystery. Although not a huge box office smash, the film was widely honored, including winning the first Genie Award for Best Canadian Film. Scott won the Genie for Best Foreign Actor, and female lead Trish Van Devere took the honor for Best Foreign Actress. Highlighted by an impressive séance scene, The Changeling is powerful enough to still scare the bejesus out of audiences today, nearly 35 years after its initial release.