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40 Haunting Movies Like The Conjuring You Need To See Next

Those who found themselves sitting in a cool, dark theater to witness director James Wan's latest and greatest back in 2013 probably also found an exercise for their nerves. "The Conjuring" proved to be the horror maestro's magnum opus. It was a film that buoyed its scares with real substance as the filmmaker masterfully cultivated anxiety preceding every fright. What resulted was an audience nearly wetting themselves from a simple ghostly hand clap from within the darkest corners of a haunted home. It takes a truly artistic mind and brilliant direction to make hand claps absolutely horrifying.

Like many ghost stories, "The Conjuring" was based on the real-life tale of the Perron family who was terrorized by a spirit within their New England home. Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were famously involved with the Amityville incident, lent their talents to protecting the family from harm. Tales of hauntings naturally intrigue the masses as humans are simultaneously curious and fearful of the unknown. Thankfully, there's a wide library of haunting-centric films for any fan of "The Conjuring" to choose from. Let's take a look at some of the best in the genre in no particular order.

The House on Haunted Hill

Perhaps, one of the most prominent haunting feature films in early American horror cinema is 1959's "House on Haunted Hill." The film follows a rather enthusiastic aristocrat by the name of Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) who, in conjunction with his wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart), invite a handful of people to a supposed haunted house for a party. Those who stay the entire night will receive $10,000.

The film was remade for more modern audiences in 1999 and involved a similar plot. Geoffrey Rush plays the role of Steven Price who throws a much-requested party for his wife Evelyn (Famke Janssen) at an abandoned asylum. Steven invites five guests and offers them each $1 million if they remain in the asylum until morning. Of course, this wouldn't be a solid haunting film if the asylum wasn't actually haunted. Like the house in the original film, the asylum is indeed teeming with ghostly activity that not only delivers frights, but threatens the lives of the asylum's occupants. Either of these films is worth viewing for fans of a solid ghost story.

The Haunting

Another film that received a modernized remake was "The Haunting." The 1963 film adapted the story presented in the pages of Shirley Jackson's psychological horror novel "The Haunting of Hill House." The 1999 film, which was also shortened in title to "The Haunting," stared Lili Taylor as Eleanor "Nell" Vance and Liam Neeson as Dr. David Marrow. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, and Bruce Dern were also among the cast. Dr. Marrow invites several subjects to participate in a study on insomnia at a secluded manor called Hill House. After experiencing supernatural warnings, they learn the house is haunted by an evil force.

Jackson's novel was once again used as the basis for another production in Netflix's 2019 limited series "The Haunting of Hill House." While the Netflix show actually kept the full title of Jackson's book, it merely took inspiration from the novel and created a largely original plot for a different cast of characters. Whether you view the two films or the Netflix series, you're bound to find a jolly-good time being haunted by the spirits of the dead.

The Amityville Horror

"The Amityville Horror" became a cinematic phenomenon as the film was bolstered by the idea that the frights shown on camera were based on real-life events. The film released in 1979 and was based on the 1977 novel of the same name written by Jay Anson. The film's premise features the traumatic events of the Lutz family moving to a home in the quaint town of Amityville. The home happens to be the site of a mass family murder at the hands of Ronald DeFeo Jr.

The Lutz family begins experiencing frightening supernatural phenomena. Eventually, George Lutz (James Brolin) begins to turn maddeningly murderous towards his family like DeFeo before him. It's a frightening story simply because of its alleged legitimacy. "The Amityville Horror" was remade in 2005 and put Ryan Reynolds in the shoes of George Lutz. The original film, however, is a must-see for any horror connoisseur.

The Changeling

In 1980, the critically acclaimed film "The Changeling" hit theaters. Like many haunting stories, the film connects strongly with the themes of grief and betrayal. George C. Scott stars in the role of John Russell, a composer who has recently suffered through the deaths of his wife and daughter. In an attempt to escape, he moves across the country to Seattle where he rents a rather large estate. Quickly, John begins experiencing frightening supernatural occurrences and he sees the visage of a young boy drowning. John learns more about the boy and his connection to the happenings in the home. Ultimately, there is a story that must be told and John attempts to uncover it.

Without spoiling the film, "The Changeling" is rife with horrors, but not always of the ghostly variety. Mankind can be just as malevolent as any spirit. Regardless, this is one haunting adventure that fans need to see. 

The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shyamalan began his quest to bend the minds of audiences with earth-shattering twists and revelations with the advent of the ultra-popular psychological horror film, "The Sixth Sense." After child psychologist, Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is attacked and shot by a former patient, the good doctor sets out to overcome his failure. He begins working with a young boy named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osmont) who claims he can see dead people, and that they often torment him. Cole shares with Malcolm that the dead still think they're living. Malcolm helps guide Cole toward communicating with the dead and helping them finish their business so they can depart in peace.

The film received wide critical acclaim and ultimately left viewers stunned by the narrative's revelations. Shyamalan had a lot to live up to following this 1999 classic, as it'll most certainly stand the test of time.

Drag Me to Hell

Directed by Sam Raimi of "Evil Dead" fame, "Drag Me to Hell is a demonic supernatural horror film like its title implies. If you're familiar with Sam Raimi as a director, you'll recognize his distinct style with jarring displays of horror, campy dialogue, and just a dash of black comedy. Make no mistake, the film is overly serious in its premise, which deals with a banker by the name of Christine who is cursed by a European Roma woman after denying her an extension on her mortgage. She is haunted by a demon and must figure out how to rid the curse before it drags her to hell in three days' time. Regardless, there's a sense of karma and comeuppance that provides a darkly humorous subtext that Raimi is often famous for.

The demonic haunting in this film is far bolder than fans of "The Conjuring" are used to. However, there are enough thrills and shocking displays to help maintain steady pacing for this hellish ride.

What Lies Beneath

Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump", "Back to the Future") took his real first approach at genuine horror with 2000's release of "What Lies Beneath." The haunting in this film is focused on a woman by the name of Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is in a somewhat strained marriage with Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford). She sees the body of a woman who she initially believes is her missing neighbor. A spirit begins to haunt her leading her on a mystery to uncover the identity of the woman and why Claire is connected to her.

The revelation of the third act in "What Lies Beneath" should ultimately surprise fans, as most of the film does a great job of subverting the expectations. While this haunting may not be quite as sinister as the others on this list, it is still rather creepy.

The Others

This thoughtfully crafted ghost story set just after the end of World War II, brings an entirely different perspective to the tale of haunted homes. Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman), lives in her home with her servants and children, but she begins experiencing odd occurrences around the house. She learns that there are "others" within the home who appear as ghostly visages. However, things start taking a crazy turn when she learns that the people who are closest to her are actually dead.

There's a wonderfully inventive revelation once all is unveiled toward the end of this film. Nothing is at it seems, and fans of the haunted house genre will enjoy a remarkable tale that flips the perspective on its head. Kidman capably commands the screen as the tormented Grace Stewart and guides us through a curious mystery that is completely worth solving. "The Others" received high praises from film reviewers, too.

Thir13en Ghosts

The film "Thir13en Ghosts" is technically considered a remake of the 1960 film "13 Ghosts." However, while it bears some resemblance to the original, many of the story beats are altered or modernized in this 2001 horror film. The film follows Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub) as he moves his family into the estate of his uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham) who had recently been killed during a ghost hunting fiasco gone awry. The family quickly sees that the estate is no ordinary manor as the walls are marked with strange Latin phrases. When Cyrus's former assistant arrives to meet the family, he notes that the phrases are barrier spells and that the 12 spirits that he and his former partner captured are contained by these spells. 

Of course, the estate lawyer mistakenly triggers the release of the spirits setting the events of the film in motion. "Thir13en Ghosts" takes viewers on a ride as each ghost that the family encounters is a character with a name and an expansive backstory. The horrors aren't simply faceless throwaway tropes used for mere shock value.

The Shining

Famed director Stanley Kubrick adapted a Stephen King novels into one of the most well-regarded horror films in history. "The Shining" follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) who accepts a job taking care of a hotel in the offseason. The Overlook Hotel is located in the heart of the mountains in Colorado where winter weather is often harsh. He brings his wife and telepathic child, Danny (Danny Lloyd) along, but eventually Danny and his parents begin seeing ghostly visages and Jack begins deteriorating mentally becoming a danger to his family.

The film is layered with subtext that is ultimately up for wild interpretation. Fans have speculated for years the meanings behind the film's imagery, details, and symbols. Despite its ambiguous nature, Kubrick's film stands as a hallmark of horror filmmaking with some of the most iconic imagery in the genre. "The Shining" is one haunting film horror fans shouldn't skip out on.

Dead Silence

"Dead Silence" is another James Wan horror film that predates "The Conjuring," and it's sure to send a chill through your bones. If the blank soul-devouring stare of the Annabelle doll disturbed you, then the ventriloquist dummies of "Dead Silence" will rock your world. The film follows Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) who seeks to understand the sudden murder of his wife after following a journey that began with the arrival of a ventriloquist dummy that was mysteriously sent to him. What he ultimately finds is a vengeful spirit who haunts and murders those who scream in her presence. The spirit has a history and motive for doing what it does.

If you enjoy James Wan's work in the horror genre, be sure to give "Dead Silence" a watch. Before James Wan truly rose to prominence with "Insidious" and "The Conjuring," this film largely flew under the radar, but it most certainly is a horrific gem through and through.

The Haunting in Connecticut

This 2009 horror film follows Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) and her husband Peter (Martin Donovan) who are struggling financially and emotionally as their son Matt (Kyle Gallner) is battling cancer. They attempt to move closer to the hospital to make their lives slightly easier and are offered a home to rent where the first month is free. The family moves in and Matt settles in the basement, but he begins having strange visions of the dead. Furthermore, a mysterious door is located in the basement and the family learns that the house used to be a funeral home. As expected, the appearance of spirits escalates and Matt attempts to find out what they want.

"The Haunting in Connecticut" is a fairly straightforward horror film and is largely what one would expect from a movie centered around a haunted house. Regardless, the spooky imagery heightens the senses and ensures viewers are engaged for the ride.

Ouija: Origin of Evil

While this is the second of two films in the "Ouija" franchise (if you could call it that), it's the only one worth mentioning. "Ouija: Origin of Evil" managed to supersede its lackluster predecessor in all of the best ways. The film takes place in Los Angeles in 1967. A recent widow by the name of Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) is struggling to make ends meet, so she works from her home as a medium. Alice eventually begins using a Ouija board in her consultations and she inadvertently summons a spirit that begins possessing her youngest daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson). The eldest daughter Lina (Annalise Basso) begins seeing ultra-creepy shadowy spirits in the home. Doris's possession escalates in a major way causing the family a heap of trouble.

If you watched the first film "Ouija" and decided to skip its sequel based on the original's paper-thin narrative, you'd be mistaken. "Ouija: Origin of Evil" was helmed by Mike Flanagan ("The Haunting of Hill House," "Midnight Mass") who clearly knows horror, given his filmography. It is terrifying and a brilliant piece of horror cinema. Just refer to the critics if you need reassurances.

Stir of Echoes

Aside from battling hungry worm monsters in the desert, Kevin Bacon did star in another little-known horror film called "Stir of Echoes." Many may have overlooked this 1999 thriller as it was likely overshadowed by the mega-popular "The Sixth Sense," as they both hit the theaters rather close together. After being hypnotized by his sister-in-law to be more open-minded toward the supernatural, the formerly unbelieving Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon), begins seeing haunting visions of a girl in his apartment. He begins unraveling a web of murder and deceit and that ultimately produces shocking revelations within the neighborhood.

Despite flying under the radar, "Stir of Echoes" is a capable horror thriller that is propped up by a stellar narrative. The film's characters and the dark mystery at the heart of the film will engage audiences. In a fun coincidence given the timing of these two films, Tom Witzky can see dead people

 just like young Cole Sear in "The Sixth Sense."

Paranormal Activity

After the advent of found footage horror, "Paranormal Activity" swept the nation as a low-budget horror film making use of a home video camera's perspective. As far as horror elements go, the film mastered the craft of the "less is more" approach terrifying viewers with subtleties that would crescendo into more horrifying reveals in the final act. The film followed a young couple who are haunted by a sinister spirit. They begin recording everything, especially night-time activity.

At the time of its release, "Paranormal Activity" was dubbed the most profitable film ever made. The return on investment was astronomical with a meager budget of $15,000 according to The Wrap, with a worldwide gross return of $193 million. "Paranormal Activity" spawned several sequels as well. Some of them added to the lore behind the characters while others simply offered more of the same. Regardless, the first movie in this series is easily a landmark horror film for what it achieved.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

In 1973, "The Exorcist" traumatized movie-goers with the prospect of demonic possession. The subject would later be explored in countless films and novels. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is one such film that positioned the entire narrative around the trial of the priest who performed the exorcism. Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) perished from the events and the man is being tried for murder. The trial recounts testimonies and a retelling of the events as Emily Rose succumbed to possession. The flashbacks offer a horrific perspective of her supernatural stalker.

Jennifer Carpenter often achieved the disturbing imagery all on her own with bodily contortions that required no help from computer animation. The narrative focused solely on Emily's torment as she hopes to be freed from her tormenter. It's a story that is worthwhile and ultimately services the greater horror elements of the film.


Of course, "Insidious" is an obvious choice for anyone who has just seen "The Conjuring" and wants more of James Wan's style of terror. "Insidious" marked Wan's first time partnering with actor Patrick Wilson. In the film, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) are struggling to find out what is wrong with their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) who has fallen into an inexplicable coma. Immediately, the family begins witnessing frightening spirits invade the home. A demonologist reveals that Dalton was able to project his spirit into another plane while sleeping and he is now trapped. Spirits are converging on his body in hopes of claiming the vessel. The film takes a wild turn as the demonologist guides Josh on a journey through the spirit plane to locate his son.

"Insidious" is filled with starkly disturbing visuals and a jarring soundtrack that accents the jump scares for full effect. Despite Wan's past with "Saw" and "Dead Silence," "Insidious" truly started garnering the horror maestro the recognition he deserved for crafting engaging horror stories.


"1408" is the adaptation of Stephen King's short story with the same title. It's a psychological horror film that will play games with viewers' minds just as much as it does its characters. The film follows author Mike Enslin (John Cusack), who investigates haunted houses but doesn't truly believe in the supernatural. The Dolphin hotel, located in New York City, is famous for having its haunted room #1408. Mike books the room and despite his skepticism, he starts witnessing wild occurrences. When he tries to leave the room, he finds he is locked in. Mike then sees the spirits of all the folks who have died in the room due to its supposed curse. What follows is crazy dive into the weird and wonderful.

The film was well-received by critics and managed to make a hefty profit with just a $25 million budget. It's a haunting film with a deep mystery that one shouldn't overthink. Just strap in and enjoy the ride.

The Ring

If haunted houses weren't enough for you, how about a haunted video tape that comes with the promise of death upon viewing? That's what the 2002 film "The Ring" offers viewers. With kids who hear the tales and dare each other to watch, of course, the film is going to garner some naïve victims. Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) jumps down the dark rabbit hole as she attempts to find out what happened to her niece. Of course, she views the tape and realizes she is in for a world of hurt when the legendary steps confirming her death within a week start to come to fruition, so she sets out to stop the terror. The most horrifying aspect of the film is the ghost that emerges from the tape bring death upon its victims. It's terrifying and will make you think twice before stepping near a deep well.

Case 39

Speaking of sinister little girls, "Case 39" offers a doozy in that department. The film stars Renée Zellweger in the role of Emily Jenkins, a social worker. Emily is assigned the case of Lilith Sullivan, a young girl who she ultimately suspects of being abused by her parents. After Lilith calls Emily for help, Lilith's parents are caught trying to murder their daughter. The young girl then stays with Emily until the state can find her a proper foster home. However, the people in Emily's professional circle wind up succumbing to strange meltdowns that quickly result in their suicides. There's a clearly demonic nature deep within Lilith and Emily must discover what is happening before she, herself, becomes another victim.

Demonic hauntings or possessions easily make for some of the most frightening horror films. It's simply because the endgame is always horrific. "Case 39" is no different as the darkness within the film taps into the primal fears of each victim guiding them toward a tragic end.

The Uninvited

Emily Browning stars as the tormented Anna Ivers in the film "The Uninvited." She is released from a psychiatric facility after spending some time there for a suicide attempt after the tragic death of her mother who perished in a boathouse fire. After going home, she reunites with her sister Alex and the two start to suspect that their father's girlfriend Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), who was a house-bound nurse for their mother, murdered the matriarch. Anne begins having horrific hallucinations of the deaths of those around her. As she and her sister collude to bring Rachel down, nothing is quite as it seems.

This is one haunting film where supernatural and psychological torment coalesce. Our minds have the capability of creating entirely new realities and projecting our fears or shielding us from them in the most subtle ways. Follow Anna on this mystery and the results may surprise you.

The Unborn

Odette Yustman plays the tormented soul of Casey Beldon in "The Unborn." Casey begins seeing scary manifestations of dogs and a young child with wild, blue eyes. She is even assaulted by a young boy she is babysitting who then cryptically tells her of a mysterious individual named Jumby who is wanting to be born. As she attempts to piece together the strange occurrences, she learns from her father that she was actually a twin. Her brother died while in the womb and her mother had referred to him as Jumby. While she instantly assumes that, perhaps, his spirit is haunting her, there is something far more sinister at work.

"The Unborn" boasts a cast that includes Gary Oldman, Meagan Good, Carla Gugino, James Remar, and Idris Elba. While the film didn't gain much traction with critics, it still offers a unique take on being haunted by an evil spirit via the unborn.

The Woman in Black

Based on the novel of the same name written by Susan Hill, 2012's "The Woman in Black" is a Victorian-era horror film starring Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role as Arthur Kipps. As a lawyer, Arthur receives the task of traveling to the village of Crythin Gifford in order to obtain legal documents left by the deceased owner of Eel Marsh House. The estate sits in the heart of a marshland on the outskirts of the village. The villagers give Arthur the cold shoulder upon arrival and some even attempt to encourage him to leave. As he enters the estate, Arthur witnesses strange occurrences as well as seeing an ultra-creepy woman in a black dress and veil. The film follows Arthur uncovering the secrets behind the spectral entity and the havoc it wreaks on the unsuspecting.

"The Woman in Black" manages to stoke anxiety superbly as filmmakers attempt to thoroughly creep viewers out with simple shots of creepy trinkets from a gothic age like porcelain dolls who seem to peer into our souls. The titular horror doesn't even make her film debut until just over the halfway mark in the film, and by that point, the audience is primed and ready.

The Possession

The Sam Raimi-produced film "The Possession" depicts the terror inflicted by a dybbuk. In Jewish tradition, a dybbuk is basically akin to a demon. The film stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clyde Brenek, who is undergoing a divorce. Meanwhile, his daughter Emily (Natasha Calis) discovers a mysterious box at a yard sale that whispers to her. She later attempts to open the box and finds strange artifacts inside. Clyde starts noticing unusual behaviors from his daughter and eventually learns that the box contained an evil spirit that has now latched onto her.

While "The Possession" is ultimately another exorcism-type film, it offers plenty of thrills and scares that will delight fans of the genre. Upon its debut, the film performed well against a rather modest budget of only $14 million. If anything, perhaps this movie will teach you not to open strange boxes that whisper to you.

The Grudge

In 2004, director Takashi Shimizu took his own Japanese horror film "Ju-On: The Grudge" and remade it for American audiences as "The Grudge." The film follows Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a care worker who is sent by her employer after the prior care worker disappears in a suburban Tokyo home. After Karen experiences the hauntings of horrifying spirits, she begins researching the home. She learns that someone died in that home in the grips of terrible emotional anguish that ultimately led to a curse emerging within. The rage behind the spirit is inflicted upon those who enter the building and Karen becomes a target of the spirit who has claimed the lives of many others.

The film's creepy spirits and eerie sound effects create a thrilling experience for horror movie-goers. Don't stop with "The Grudge," either. Be sure to check out the original Japanese film "Juon," also. There are plenty of horrors to go around between these two films.


"Mama" is filmmaker Andy Muschietti's ("IT") directorial debut and was produced by Guillermo Del Toro. The film is actually based on Muschietti's 2008 short film of the same name. It follows the lives of two girls whose father snapped and killed his estranged wife before whisking his daughters away to an abandoned cabin where a mysterious entity kills him. Five years pass and the girls' uncle arranges for a search party in the mountains. They find the two girls in the old cabin but they're living in a dingy, feral state. Eventually, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain) find that the girls are protected by the ghostly apparition of their deceased mother. Mama assaults Lucas, incapacitating him leaving Annabel to learn more about Mama's past in an effort to stop her.

The film was generally well-received critically and was considered a financial success as a result of its low budget of $15 million and the film's popularity on the weekend of its debut. If you enjoyed Muschietti's take on Stephen King's "IT," be sure to check out his debut film "Mama."

The Last Exorcism

Taking a cue from the popular found-footage craze, "The Last Exorcism" follows a reverend named Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), who is attempting to discredit exorcisms. He takes his camera crew to the home of Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthem) who claims that his daughter, Nell (Ashley Bell), is possessed by the dark lord himself — Satan. According to the farmer, Nell has been killing the farm's livestock. Marcus performs a theatrical exorcism as a placebo and declares Nell cured, but that doesn't stop Nell from acting strangely. In fact, her erratic actions begin intensifying and becoming extra-alarming. 

Of course, the film treads into staples of "exorcist" themes involving contortion and demonic speech, but there's something a bit more sinister afoot than mere possession. The third act of the film is a horror show one must witness to truly appreciate. "The Last Exorcism" may make a believer out of you.


If you're looking for another Mike Flanagan ("Midnight Mass," "Ouija: Origin of Evil") horror treat, don't look past "Oculus." This supernatural horror trip tells the tale of a haunted mirror and two children who experienced the trauma of their parents' death at a young age because of the object. In their adult lives, they seek to prove once and for all that their parents' death was the result of the mirror. Kaylie Russell (Karen Gillan), acquires the mirror once again and places it in their childhood home while surrounded by cameras. She ultimately wants to destroy the mirror, but not before she can prove that supernatural entities within wreaked havoc on her family. This horror film takes a psychological turn as it connects the past with the present. The film garnered positive reviews from critics and is a must-see for fans of the genre.

The Conjuring 2

The obvious choice for anyone seeking more films featuring hauntings like "The Conjuring" is to take a gander at its sequel, "The Conjuring 2." Like its predecessor, "The Conjuring 2" features a real-life case known as the Enfield haunting in the heart of Great Britain. Of course, James Wan takes plenty of dramatized Hollywood liberties to really amp up the frights. The director actually connects the demonic entity at the center of the Amityville Horror case with the terror that ensued across the pond. Demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) researched both cases in an attempt to understand the supernatural happenings and protect the families. 

"The Conjuring 2" offers steady frights alongside the debut of the soul-piercing nun. If the nun doesn't make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, you might not have a pulse. If you enjoyed the first film, "The Conjuring 2" most certainly won't disappoint.

It Follows

Every so often, a filmmaker gets a wild hair and makes a film that is truly creative. "It Follows" is one such haunting film that doesn't surround a house, a person, or an object. Instead, the spectral entity that hunts and kills targets is a curse that is passed from person to person via sexual intercourse. After Jaime (Maika Monroe) has sex with her new boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), he knocks her out with chloroform so that he can tie her to a chair and show her a vicious entity that is now following her. The ghost takes any form and constantly walks toward its target no matter where they are. If it catches up to them, it murders them brutally and goes back to following the previous person who had the curse. Hugh coaches Jaime with the rules of the curse and then encourages her to pass it on to someone else through a sexual encounter.

The entity is eerie and horrific up close, and the idea that it's always following its victim, stalking them from a spiritual plane, is the stuff of nightmares. Of course, many have argued over the subtext of the film and whether commentary exists regarding sexually transmitted diseases or that love and sex are potentially the most profound experiences humans can have comparable to life and death. Regardless of any hidden meanings, this is one ghost story you don't want to miss.


Perhaps, one of the ultimate haunting tales of the '80s, "Poltergeist" terrified audiences with monstrous trees, slithering slabs of meat, and evil clown dolls — and no one can forget the "face-tearing scene." If you don't know what we're referring to then you'll have to watch the film for yourself. 

The Freeling family had recently moved into a new home in a quiet suburb when they began experiencing the typical spooky preamble of most haunting tales. However, the youngest Freeling daughter, Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke) is spirited away by the supernatural and is taken to a ghostly plane. Her family is left trying to figure out how they can reach her and stop the hauntings that are progressing through their home.

While the special effects have certainly aged, that doesn't stop this film from shining because of a winning narrative and the admirable and magnificent practical effects work that created most of the terrors on screen. "Poltergeist" is a must-see for fans of the horror genre as it was helmed by the director of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Tobe Hooper, and produced by Stephen Spielberg.

Grave Encounters

This Canadian found-footage horror film takes on the experience of a crew of ghost hunters embarking into the murky depths of an abandoned psychiatric hospital. As far as ghost-hunting shows go, the intro to the film is standard fare as the crew lock themselves in the facility for the night while they begin to explore with their personal cameras and mics every inch of the building. Unlike most ghost-hunting shows, however, actual hauntings do begin to appear on screen. The actors manage to put on a killer show as their fear and terror are palpable. The images are frightening under the lens of a camera in a darkly-lit abandoned building. While the hospital may be haunted with spirits, the building itself also begins to toy with the camera crew and their sense of time and navigation. 

 This is one of those films that wasn't well-known upon release. However, as more horror fans have discovered this hidden gem, it has rapidly gained a cult following. "Grave Encounters" is executed extremely well and will have you terrified to walk into dark spaces.

The Ward

Director John Carpenter returned to the horror scene with "The Ward," a psychological horror film set in a psychiatric ward. The story centers around Kristen (Amber Heard) who is arrested for arson. Ultimately she is taken to a psychiatric ward where she resides with several other patients. Soon a hideous figure begins stalking the halls of the ward and, every so often, it kills one of the patients. The relationships between Kristen and the rest of the patients ultimately set the stage for what's to come. The diagnosis of the patients often takes a toll on their mental state, leading viewers to suspect that Kristen's own perspective may be skewed. 

It's difficult to speak about this film in depth without giving away critical plot points. Carpenter diverts from his traditional horror stylings with a multi-layered narrative at work. However, just know that "The Ward" seems like a simple haunting on the surface, but there is far more trouble boiling below.


"Sinister" quite possibly wins the award for the most disturbing film of the bunch. Ethan Hawke stars as Ellison Oswalt, a writer of true crime. In an effort to further his career, he moves his family into the home whose previous occupants were murdered by hanging — every child's dream. Despite the possibility of traumatizing his children, he soon discovers stored films in the house that when viewed appear to be snuff films of real-life murder. In each of the films, a shadowy figure in the background is obviously sowing the seeds of bloodlust.

The film's jarring murders are wincingly brutal and painfully realistic. The truth behind the murders is something that Ellison shouldn't want to uncover, as it will be his undoing. The supernatural force orchestrating the murders is even more terrifying. Perhaps, watch this film in the middle of the day so that you have time to quiet your thoughts before bed.

The Evil Dead

Director Sam Raimi's career was kickstarted with his indie-horror film "The Evil Dead" back in 1981. While the later films in the franchise would adopt a comedic tone to it's over-the-top gore and one-liner spewing hero, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), the first film in the series was intended to be entirely a horror film. Ash still leads the film as he embarks on trip with his friends to a remote cabin in the woods. After stumbling upon a mysterious book and playing a tape recording that recites ancient Sumerian incantations, evil spirits began swirling about tormenting the group of friends and possessing them. The demons often toy with their victims by possessing trees or other objects before taking the teens' bodies as their own vessels. Ash manages to stave off the demonic incursion the longest. The film is basically a fight for survival and it's truly a horror classic.

Ghost Ship

We've witnessed the hauntings of houses, cabins, asylums, creepy whispering boxes, people, and various objects. Now, it's time to experiencing a haunting on boat. "Ghost Ship" is a 2002 film that follows a salvage crew who attempt to claim a derelict ocean liner that has been afloat in the Bering Sea for 40 years. After boarding the ship, the crew discovers gold. Seeing dollar signs, they attempt to abscond with the gold but sinister supernatural forces begin to intervene. Eventually, their tugboat is destroyed and the crew is stranded, so they attempt to repair the ocean liner in hopes of sailing back to port. However, each of the crew begins encountering ghostly apparitions that intend to do harm.

"Ghost Ship" is most notable for its introductory scene that depicts what occurred on the ocean liner 1962. It's a bloody massacre of horrific proportions that has earned the film some notoriety.

Event Horizon

If "Sinister" is the most disturbing film on this list, then "Event Horizon" isn't too far behind it. The 1997 sci-fi horror film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson tells the story of a crew of astronauts who are sent on a mission to rescue the crew of the ship Event Horizon. The Event Horizon went missing seven years prior and suddenly appeared near Neptune. As the crew approaches and boards the ship, they find that the craft is derelict, and they discover evidence that the Event Horizon crew was killed. Video logs indicate some disturbing scenery of self-mutilation. Soon the investigating crew begins to experience terrifying hallucinations.

The real question becomes where exactly did the ship disappear to and why is it back? It's, perhaps, the best haunted spaceship story ever told. Regardless, "Event Horizon" is a film that may have you pondering the possibilities of sinister parallel worlds.

Annabelle Comes Home

This demonically possessed little doll first debuted in "The Conjuring." However, the filmmakers put such great work into creating a frightening and creepy doll based on a real story that they couldn't leave her to remain idle. Annabelle gained her own film franchise as a spin-off to "The Conjuring." The third film in her trilogy, "Annabelle Comes Home" is, perhaps, the best of the three. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren as they bring the doll home and lock it in a spiritually protected case. They then leave for a day due to business, but not before hiring a babysitter for their young daughter. The babysitter's friend comes over, then gets curious, and one thing leads to another, resulting in Annabelle's release from her prison. She begins unleashing other spirits trapped within the home to torment the girls.

"Annabelle Comes Home" offers a variety of frights and scares each with different horrors that maintain their own identity and background. It's a thrilling world-building story set in "The Conjuring" universe and would easily satisfy any horror fan.

The Messengers

Starring Kristen Stewart in the lead role of Jessica Solomon, "The Messengers" tells the story of a troubled family who seeks to resolve their problems by moving to a remote farm. Jess, a teenager, found herself in an accident while driving drunk with her young brother in the vehicle, leaving him traumatized. Ultimately, Jessica begins seeing supernatural occurrences on the farm that lead her to investigate the family who lived there before her family and was horrifically murdered. The spirits are now attempting to haunt Jessica, as well. As the film title implies, they want to deliver a message, but is it a threat or a warning? You'll have to watch the film for yourself to learn the truth. "The Messengers" didn't exactly do anything unique with the genre, but it still offers a competent mystery worth solving and a few frights along the way.

The Exorcist

If you thought the demonic possession that occurred within "The Conjuring" was terrifying, wait until you watch the horror of the 1973 film "The Exorcist." William Peter Blatty wrote the film based on his own novel of the same name. It follows two Catholic priests' attempts to exorcise a demon from a young girl. The deterioration of the girl is the most frightening aspect of the film as she contorts, spins her head, and shouts vile phrases in a demonic voice. Blatty even splices in blink-and-you'll-miss-them images of a demonic face throughout the film, adding to the scare factor. The shocking actions of the demon while in a young girl's body ultimately horrified audiences. The film still holds up in its scares and the imagery never really became less unsettling throughout the years. Just be wary if a characteristically jovial individual in your life begins to make vulgar statements. Grab your holy water, as there might be something wicked afoot!