5. What Lies Beneath starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer (2000)Imagine after years of what you consider a loving, dedicated marriage, you find out your spouse had an affair. That’s rough, right? Well, it could be worse… You could be Claire Spencer. After the inexplicable dropping picture frames, faces in the bathtub, and strange noises plague her family home, Claire seeks answers and discovers her husband’s biggest mistake—having an affair with a woman who committed suicide. After hurting herself, she wants to hurt Claire and Norman. And, she does a pretty good job. Her ghost inhabits their home and, ultimately, inhabits Claire—making her someone she’s not.
4. The Grudge starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (2004)When Karen Davis moves to Tokyo, she settles into a modest home. Unbeknownst to Karen, this house is haunted by “the Grudge.” Those fatally cursed by the grudge die and pass on the curse, like a virus, to all those who enter the house. When Karen steps into this home, she enters a growing chain of horror. As clichéd as it is, the strange creature lurking in the closet and staircases in enough to give anyone the chills. Picture hands coming out of your head in the shower, inexplicable footsteps and scratching noises, strange phone calls—this barely skims the surface of the horror that resides in Karen’s house.
3. Insidious starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne (2011)A classic beginning to any horror film: A small suburban family moves into a seemingly quaint, old home. Not so classic? The house is haunted by supernatural demons attempting to inhabit the body of Josh and Renai Lambert’s comatose son, Dalton. Cue the inexplicably moving rocking horses, unknown noises from a baby monitor, and strange men lurking outside upstairs windows. Insidious transforms a house that is, on the surface, so normal into something extremely paranormal.
2. Poltergeist starring Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams (1982)“The house looks just like the one next to it, and the one next to that, and the one next to that…” So the all of the houses on the block have furniture flying around and flickering lights? We don’t think so. One of the scariest of all fictional haunted houses, the house in Poltergeist is haunted by ghosts who connect with little Carol Anne Freeling through a dead channel on the television set. At first seemingly harmless and amusing, these ghosts start to terrorize the Freeling family with murderous dolls and flying trees and kidnap the little girl. The family learns they are dealing not with a haunting, but a poltergeist. If a poltergeist includes hallucinations of tearing off your own face, hearing the pounding footsteps of some inexplicable force, and unknown laughter reverberating around the room, we certainly don’t want it.
1. The Amityville Horror starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder (1979)
In most haunted house horror films, the family moves into a superficially serene and humble home, having no idea of the terror they’ve gotten themselves into. In the case of Amityville Horror, however, the Lutz family should know exactly what they got themselves into. George, Kathy, and their three children move into a house that was the site of a horrific murder the previous year. So is the presence of a demonic force, George’s weird hallucinations of “coming apart,” Chelsea’s ability to see people, crashing windows, and swarming bugs shocking? No. But is it scary? Absolutely. The scariest part? It’s all allegedly based on a true story!
Also by: Katie O’Brien