The 11 Most Influential Haunted Homes

Imagine a haunted house. It is likely nothing like the upstate New York lakeside property featured in The Night House. Ben Collins ( Super Dark Times) and Luke Piotrowski( The Signal ) wrote the script. David Bruckner (most well-known for his contributions to films such as V/H/S and ) directed the film. Rebecca Hall plays the role of a widowed teacher who is left in the house alone after Owen (Evan Jonigkeit), takes his own life. Owen’s spirit hangs on the house in ways that may not be completely metaphorical. It’s grounded by Hall’s complex performance. It’s a sophisticated and emotionally complex haunted movie, often very scary, that seems to have no connection with the haunted house of traditional carnivalofhorrors.

There are many films in horror history that have played with the expectations of viewers about what kind of haunted houses and spirits they encounter. These 11 movies are more creative than the usual horror movie and take it and make it exciting.

The Invited (1944). The One Who Made Haunted Houses Safe to Tell Stories of Doomed Romance

The Invited stars Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, and is about a couple of London-based siblings who buy a luxurious, coastal home in Cornwall. Strange incidents lead to them finding out that the house may be haunted. Stella Russell (Gail Russell), a strange, bewitching woman who once lived in the house as an infant, is one of the suspects. The Uninvited is Lewis Allen’s debut film. It is a slow-burn ghost story that features odd happenings, such as strange gusts of wind or areas in the house that scare animals. Modern cosmopolitan attitudes, and a refusal of believing in the supernatural, can’t make the past less troubled.

House at Haunted Hill (1959). The One that Set the Gold Standard in Camp

The Invited set a standard for haunted house movies, while William Castle’s House On Haunted Hill was the model for its unsettling counterpart. Castle’s gimmicks such as “Percepto!” which made audiences scream for his 1959 film The Tingler, are well-remembered. House On Haunted Hill is one of them. Vincent Price plays Frederick Loren, an eccentric millionaire offering five strangers a small fortune in exchange for a night in a haunted house. For the exterior shots, Castle used a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house for the exterior shots. However, the interior is cluttered with shadows and cobwebs. Castle is on top form with Price and Castle keep the jolts coming through a film which recognizes its own silliness but happily leans in to it. It has fun with haunted-house cliches as much as it does them out. It’s pop art as camp. The first audience received an extra treat thanks to “Emergo,” a plastic skeleton that flew above the crowd at a crucial moment.

The Innocents (1961). The One That Proved Freudian Symbolism can Be Terrifying Too

Although the term “psychological horror” is often used in vain, it seems more appropriate when it’s applied to Jack Clayton’s adaptation of Henry James’ beyond-ambiguous novella The Turn of the Screw. This ghost story may not be the true story of a woman losing her mind. Clayton’s film is based on a script by Truman Capote. It follows Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), who is a governess that is hired to look after the nephew and niece of a wealthy uncle (Michael Redgrave). Clayton’s dreamy approach, combined with Kerr’s nervous, highwire act performance immerse viewers into a world where repression and decadence are fought in an atmosphere full of crumbling beauty.

The Haunting (1963). The One Where the Ghosts You Can’t See Are The Scariest

Robert Wise, a director, followed up with another story two years later. The visitors to the haunted house are just as dangerous as any supernatural beings. This adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House is notable for Wise’s strong use of suggestion and innovative approach to sound, which makes unseen threats feel like imminent dangers. This movie makes it as terrifying to think about what might be outside your door as it is to see it. It might not have been as technical as it was if it wasn’t for Julie Harris, the delicate Eleanor who arrives on a trip to Hill House in New England carrying a heavy burden that will only get heavier over the course of her stay.

House (1977). The Haunted House: Hilarious Nightmare

Some movies depict madness. Some movies depict madness. Others portray it. Nobuhiko Okadashi, director of this horror movie that is beyond description, brought wild ideas from his time as an experimental filmmaker and creator of striking TV ads. He told the story about six schoolgirls who encounter supernatural trouble while staying in a haunted house. This trouble includes a creepy cat and severed teeth. There is danger in every room of the hilltop manor, which has a number of malevolent fixtures such as a bleeding clock and a hungry pianist played by disembodied hands. Obayashi may have had some help from his daughter’s wild imagination. It’s like a nightmare from childhood. It might be funny, but it is still creepy.

The Changing (1980). The One with Old Tricks for a New Era

House Despite being a golden age for haunted houses movies, the 1970s were not exactly a golden era. The Amityville Horror was a huge success, but it wasn’t very good. If you expand the definition of haunted home to include haunted hotels, then that was The Shining in 1980. The Changeling by Peter Medak served as a reminder of how the traditional haunted house setup could still be used even in the 21st century. The film opens with an eerie scene of tragedy. It follows John Russell (George C. Scott), who attempts to rebuild his life by moving into a magnificent Victorian home. This is not an easy task, to put it mildly. Sometimes, combining a modern sensibility and an old tradition can lead to its own unique kind of inventiveness.

Poltergeist (1982). The One That Said There Was No Shelter in Suburbia

The Victorian manor house was no longer the best haunted house movie. Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist showed that a new, cluttered house like the one seen in Steven Spielberg’s other movies could be as frightening. JoBeth Williams stars with Craig T. Nelson as the ’60s children who have settled into Reagan ’80s, only to discover that the few comforts that middle-class success affords do not protect them from hungry, mischievous spirits bent on stealing their children. This film cleverly transforms all the trappings that suburbia has to offer — trees, toys, TV sets — into potential threats. It creates a nightmare vision in which suburbia is unsafe.

Candyman (1992). The Boogeyman of the Big City

Poltergeist proved that ghost stories can work in American suburbs. Candyman did the same with Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing development as its background. Tony Todd plays the role of the eponymous supernatural killer. He draws power from the terror he instills in Cabrini-Green residents, who feel trapped by the poverty and crime around them.

Paranormal Activity 2009: All Mod Ghouls

Poltergeist inspired many sequels and a remake. But it’s the paranormal activity films who take it on and run with it. Newly constructed housing feels as unsafe as an old dark house. Oren Peli, writer/director of The Blair Witch Project decided it was time for found footage horror. This story is about a couple from San Diego named Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat. Their modern home becomes the playground of a demon. Technically, it is not the house that’s the problem. But the setting is what makes the film. Instead of the chaotic whippans and frantic motion of Blair Witch Peli relies on stillness, quiet and creeping dread until the arrival of supernatural threats. Micah and Katie live in an area with modern technology and clean surfaces, but neither offer any protection against the creatures beyond.

In the Shadow (2016: The One About the Horror of War

Babak Anvari, a British-Iranian director, sets this story of supernatural terror against a surprising backdrop: a Tehran apartment block rattled by the 1980s conflict between Iran and Iraq. Contrary to her husband’s advice, Shideh (Narges Rashedi), refuses to leave. As the city becomes a war zone Shideh’s daughter falls ill. It becomes clear that a malicious spirit has entered the building. The film blends observations about oppression by the Iranian regime, which has made Shideh a sidelined activist and aspiring doctor, with disturbing moments of supernatural forces determined finish the war.

His House (2020). The One Where Ghosts Travel with You

Remi Weekes’ His House contains a similar mixture of politics, history, and freaky imagery. It is set mostly within the walls a public housing unit that was assigned to Bol (Sope Dirisu), and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku), two South Sudanese refugees seeking asylum in England. They begin to suspect that they have been followed by an “apeth”, a night witch who is determined to haunt their present and remind them of their traumatized past as they try to repair their home. Weekes blends pointed commentary (like Rial asking for directions from Black teens only to be ridiculed for her accent) with touching drama and some truly frightening imagery. This is a classic haunted house tale, but it’s also one that draws directly from today’s alarming headlines.