10 Horrifying Haunted House Films

Films that go bump in the night.

The Others Nicole Kidman
Warner Bros. Pictures

Ghost stories are some of the oldest horror tales we have, and the most popular setting for them is the haunted house. So, it’s unsurprising that new films release every year based on this tried and tested premise.

These films can often be rigidly formulaic: an ancestral home is left to someone in a will, or a dream house is purchased for a suspiciously low price. After the new residents move in, it’s not long before the apparitions make themselves known, causing all manner of mischief and worse.

The ghosts are eventually exorcised (at least in the films with cheerier resolutions) when the source of their attachment to the living world is discovered, and some wrong is righted that allows them to finally head towards the light, leaving the new residents to redecorate in peace.

The best haunted house movies rely on slowly building suspense before they fully bring the intense spooks out, and even if their plots are somewhat predictable, the film can still be successful if the setting is right, and the ghost is appropriately blood-curdling.

The following films excel in both respects and are guaranteed to send a chill up your spine.

10. Crimson Peak

The Others Nicole Kidman
Universal Pictures

Crimson Peak is a Guillermo Del Toro directed horror film released in 2015. It’s also a love letter to brooding gothic-era ghost stories.

When Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) marries Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) after a whirlwind romance, they abscond together alongside Thomas’ sister and move to the Sharpes' ancestral home, Crimson Peak. It’s immediately apparent that the mansion has seen better days; the estate is neglected and rundown, leading Edith to believe the Sharpe family may not be as wealthy as they’ve led on.

Where the film is really outstanding though is in the realisation of its macabre phantoms.

Due to the red clay Crimson Peak has been built on - and derives its name from - the ghosts which start appearing to Edith are completely red in colour and are horribly disfigured by the fatal injuries they sustained: one such ghost has a cleaver protruding from its split skull, while another still wears a noose about its broken neck.

Doug Jones, the actor who has the uncanny talent for bringing monsters to life onscreen (as seen in Del Toro’s other films, Pan’s Labryinth, and The Shape of Water), brings an unusual physicality to the grotesque red revenants that shamble through Crimson Peak during the dead of night.

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Ben is an avid fan of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. He also loves video games but is alarmed at his steadily growing back log; he hopes to finish Red Dead Redemption 2 sometime around 2030.