15 Seriously Scary Ghost Movies (And How To Watch Them)

Ghoul from Grave Encounters

Whether or not you believe in ghosts, few would deny that the mere idea of being in a haunted house is unsettling. For that reason, there are many great horror movies based on the premise of sharing a home or any isolated area with a deceased individual’s spectral remains, yet some are more frightening than others. If you are looking for a truly terrifying supernatural movie night, these scary ghost movies should do the trick.

The Shining (1980)

While trying to finish a novel, a recovering alcoholic author ( Jack Nicholson ), his wife (Shelley Duvall) and young son (Danny Lloyd) become caretakers of a desolate Colorado hotel where a sinister presence threatens to tear them apart.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: While the author himself was not a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his 1977 novel , The Shining is considered to be among the best Stephen King movies — if not the best — for its unrelentingly eerie atmosphere and aimlessly unique depiction of hauntings.

Stream The Shining on Max . Rent or buy The Shining on Amazon .

The Changeling (1980)

A recently widowed music professor (Academy Award winner George C. Scott) becomes wrapped up in a disturbing mystery about his new home — a long-vacant mansion in Seattle — with guidance from the ghost haunting it.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: One of Martin Scorsese’s favorite horror movies is The Changeling , which is acclaimed as one of the best horror movies that address grief in a profound way in addition to its top-notch scares.

Stream The Changeling on Tubi . Stream The Changeling on Peacock . Stream The Changeling on Plex . Rent or buy The Changeling on Amazon .

Poltergeist (1982)

A real estate agent (Craig T. Nelson) and his wife (JoBeth Williams) tries to rescue their youngest daughter (Heather O’Rourke) from the evil spirits that have invaded their home and abducted her into their realm.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Hailing from producer Steven Spielberg and director Tobe Hooper, Poltergeist is an essential haunted house movie — not just for its indelibly frightening elements, but also for its emotionally grounded depiction of parents longing to find their missing child.

Stream Poltergeist on Max . Rent or buy Poltergeist on Amazon .

The Sixth Sense (1999)

A child psychologist ( Bruce Willis ) with his own dark past tries to help a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) come to terms with his disturbing gift.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Arguably M. Night Shyamalan’s best movie , the clever and frightening classic The Sixth Sense has a unique set of rules about the afterlife which, once you see the killer twist ending , you’ll never think of the same way again.

Rent or buy The Sixth Sense on Amazon .

Stir Of Echoes (1999)

After agreeing to be hypnotized by his sister-in-law at a party just for a laugh, it quickly proves to be no laughing matter for the man ( Kevin Bacon ) as he begins to see visions of a girl who is dead. 

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Because it was released not long after The Sixth Sense and bore similar themes of ESP and paranormal activity , writer and director David Koepp ’s intense adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel Stir of Echoes did not get the attention it deserved, and rarely has since then.

Stream Stir Of Echoes on Tubi . Stream Stir Of Echoes on Plex . Stream Stir Of Echoes on Freevee through Amazon .

Session 9 (2001)

Relations between the somewhat normally close-knit crew of an asbestos removal company grow sour as they race to complete a job at an abandoned mental hospital with a dark past that slowly comes to light.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: From director Brad Anderson — who also co-writes with star Stephen Gevedon — and also starring CSI : Miami star David Caruso, Session 9 is yet another unfairly overlooked horror movie with some really good scares and a chilling final act.

Rent or buy Session 9 on Amazon .

1408 (2007)

A grieving father who specializes in disproving supernatural phenomena ( John Cusack ) puts the legend of an hotel room with a supposedly deadly curse to the test, only to find a reason to believe.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: From director Mikael Håfström, 1408 is another haunted hotel story from author Stephen King that mostly plays out like a spooky one-man show, while also starring Cusack’s future Cell co-star, Samuel L. Jackson .

Rent or buy 1408 on Amazon .

The Orphanage (2007)

During a visit to the foster home where she grew up, a woman (Belén Rueda) and her husband (Fernando Cayo) accidentally lose their young son (Roger Príncep) and turn to unusual measures in hopes of finding him.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: From producer Guillermo del Toro and writer and director J.A. Bayona, the Spanish-language thriller The Orphanage is already spine-tingling as a missing child story, but its ghostly elements make for an unforgettable frightening experience.

Rent or buy The Orphanage on Amazon .

Lake Mungo (2008)

A family from Australia recalls in interviews the strange events that would begin to plague their home shortly after their teenage daughter drowned to death.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: From writer and director Joel Anderson, and one of the most unlikely After Dark Horror Fest entries, Lake Mungo is an overlooked supernatural drama that's so mysteriously compelling, delicately constructed, and convincingly acted, no one could fault you for assuming this faux documentary was real.

Stream Lake Mungo on Tubi . Stream Lake Mungo on Plex . Rent or buy Lake Mungo on Amazon .

Grave Encounters (2011)

The typically skeptical crew of a docuseries that explores notorious sightings of alleged hauntings find the irrefutable evidence they never thought they would after locking themselves in an empty insane asylum.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Part satire of paranormal investigation reality series like Ghost Adventures , and another part relentless nightmare fuel, Grave Encounters is another relatively underrated found footage thriller featuring some of the most unforgivably frightening supernatural entities you could imagine.

Stream Grave Encounters on Freevee through Amazon . Stream Grave Encounters on Tubi . Stream Grave Encounters on Plex .

Insidious (2011)

A teacher (Patrick Wilson), his wife (Rose Byrne) and their children begin to suffer from very strange and disturbing circumstances after their eldest son (Ty Simpkins) mysteriously falls into a coma.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan of Saw fame already turned the haunted house genre on its head with the unique concept of Insidious , but rarely had a film of this kind been so visually arresting and indelibly frightening at this time either.

Stream Insidious on Max . Rent or buy Insidious on Amazon .

The Pact (2012)

After her sister goes missing not long after the death of their mother, a woman (Caity Lotz) begins to suspect that the secret behind her disappearance is tied to the unexplainable events she begins to experience in her childhood home.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: If you have never seen or heard of writer and director Nicholas McCarthy’s The Pact , I highly recommend it to people who enjoy engrossing mystery stories that do not hold back on high-stakes frights.

Stream The Pact on Tubi . Rent or buy The Pact on Amazon .

The Woman In Black (2012)

A widowed legal practitioner (Daniel Radcliffe) is shocked to learn that an abandoned manor in a small London village is haunted by a vengeful spirit who struck fear in the locals.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Based on the novel by Susan Hill, The Woman in Black is one of Daniel Radcliffe’s best movies outside of the Harry Potter franchise in the way it harkens back to a forgotten era of gothic tales of the unexplainable, but with haunting imagery for audiences of any generation to get spooked by

Stream The Woman In Black on Paramount+ . Rent or buy The Woman In Black on Amazon .

The Conjuring (2013)

A family calls upon the help of famed paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) to help rid their new Rhode Island home of the evil presence inhabiting it.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: While the more memorable antagonists in any of the Conjuring Universe movies are of the demonic sort, director James Wan’s original that started it all has its fair share of great and grandly creepy ghostly moments.

Stream The Conjuring on Max . Rent or buy The Conjuring on Amazon .

Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016)

A mother of two (Annalise Basso and Lulu Wilson) who makes a living as a fake medium (Elizabeth Reaser) adds a new element to her performance that turns out to be much more real than she could have envisioned.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Some of the earliest proof of writer and director Mike Flanagan’s expertise in horror storytelling was the surprisingly taut and viscerally unsettling Ouija: Origin of Evil — a prequel to an almost universally reviled generic teen thriller from 2014.

Stream Ouija: Origin Of Evil on Netflix . Rent or buy Ouija: Origin Of Evil on Amazon .

If these ghost movies do not manage to scare you, we hope they at least warm your spirit as a horror fan.

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Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.

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50 Best Ghost Movies Ever Made

From spine-chilling horror flicks to classic comedies, our ultimate list of ghost films has something for everyone.

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Whether you're looking for something scary, funny — or yes — even romantic, our ultimate list of the top ghost movies has something for everyone. There are, of course, plenty of classic horror movies and bone-chilling psychological thrillers that will keep you up all night (and even get you in the spirit for Halloween !). But for those who can't handle their horror, there are also some lighter picks that feature poltergeists and phantoms — like comedy movies , supernatural dramas and even kid-friendly scary movies that keep the frights a little more PG. The good news is: Whichever ghost flick you pick, you'll be in for a truly great watch featuring all the best specters and spirits around.

The Shining (1980)

ghost movies jack nicholson in 'the shining'

Often considered one of the greatest horror films of all time, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's novel — about an aspiring writer named Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) who becomes the caretaker at an isolated hotel — delivers on all the psychological horror and ghostly terror.

RELATED: 20 Fascinating Facts About The Shining We Bet You Didn't Know

A Ghost Story (2017)

ghost movies a ghost story

For those looking for a more offbeat, unconventional ghost tale, this acclaimed A24 film centers around a recently deceased man who returns as a ghost (yes, white sheet and all) to the house he shares with his widowed wife. It's a poignant film about loss, grief and time that you won't forget.

WATCH ON AMAZON

Poltergeist (1982)

ghost movies poltergeist

Strange occurrences start to happen to a young family living in a California suburban home, as 5-year-old Carol Anne begins to communicate with ghosts through a television set. Be prepared for plenty of unnerving suspense from this Steven Spielberg horror-thriller.

WATCH ON HBO MAX

The Conjuring (2013)

ghost movies the conjuring

What's more terrifying than a ghost story inspired by true events? Based on a real-life paranormal investigation, The Conjuring will certainly give you chills with a story about a family who moves into a secluded old farmhouse — only to discover it's haunted.

WATCH ON HBOMAX

RELATED: How to Watch The Conjuring Series in Order for the Scariest Movie Marathon Ever

Ghost (1990)

ghost movies ghost

Because who doesn't love a ghost romance? If you haven't yet watched this '90s movie about the ghost of a murdered banker who teams up with a psychic to save his lover, you've probably at least seen that iconic scene with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore cozying up at the pottery wheel.

Ghostbusters (1984)

ghost movies ghostbusters

We couldn't forget a true classic! This iconic supernatural comedy about parapsychologists who start a ghost-hunting business in New York City started a huge franchise for a reason.

RELATED: 50 Movies From the '80s That You Totally Forgot About

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

ghost movies ghostbusters answer the call

Of course, after watching the original Ghostbusters, you'll also have to watch the 2016 reboot — a hilarious take on the classic — starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as New York City's four ghost-hunters.

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

ghost movies the devil's backbone

If you liked The Shape of Water and Pan's Labyrinth , try director Guillermo del Toro's gothic horror masterpiece from 2001. Set during the Spanish Civil War, this mournful Spanish-language film follows a boy who uncovers the secrets of a haunted orphanage.

WATCH ON APPLE TV

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

ghost movies a tale of two sisters

This acclaimed Korean film blends psychological thriller, drama and horror into one truly gripping, eerie story about two sisters who return from a mental hospital to their country home, where strange incidents begin to occur.

RELATED: The 22 Best Korean Movies to Add to Your Watchlist

The Sixth Sense (1999)

ghost movies the sixth sense

Considered one of M. Night Shyamalan's greatest works (it even earned a Best Picture nomination, a rare occurrence for a horror film!), The Sixth Sense is a chilling thriller about a child psychologist (Bruce Willis) who discovers a young boy's dark secret: He can talk to the dead.

Beetlejuice (1988)

ghost movies beetlejuice

If you're looking for something more light-hearted, you can't go wrong with this '80s cult classic from Tim Burton. Centering around two ghosts who haunt their former home, Beetlejuice will definitely play up both the laughs and the scares.

RELATED: 60 Best Halloween Movies, From Old Classics to New Cult Favorites

Candyman (1992)

ghost movies candyman

A horror film that also examines issues of race and social class, Candyman follows a Chicago graduate student researching the urban legend of a murderous ghost summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror. Plus, if you enjoy this one, you can also watch the 2021 sequel by Jordan Peele afterward.

Personal Shopper (2016)

ghost movies personal shopper

If you're looking for a haunting ghost story that perfectly mixes horror with drama, try this critically acclaimed thriller which stars Kristen Stewart as a personal shopper in Paris who tries to communicate with her dead brother and starts to receive mysterious messages from an unknown source.

The Haunting (1963)

ghost movies  the haunting

Craving an old classic? You'll love this 1963 horror film based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House , which follows a group of guests participating in a paranormal study in a haunted mansion.

RELATED: 20 Classic Movies on Netflix That'll Make You Feel Extra Nostalgic

Coco (2017)

ghost movies coco

Sure, it may not be what you immediately think of when you hear "ghost movie," but this popular Pixar movie does center around a boy who finds himself transported to the Land of the Dead, where he meets the spirits of his ancestors. Who says ghost stories can't be cute and heartwarming?

WATCH ON DISNEY+

The Changeling (1980)

ghost movies  the changeling 1980

In this terrifying psychological horror flick that's often considered one of the best horror films of all time, a composer who recently lost his wife and daughter to a tragic accident retires to a secluded mansion only to experience supernatural occurrences.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

ghost movies  paranormal activity

Known for its found-footage horror scenes, the first of the Paranormal Activity franchise follows a couple who moves into a suburban home and sets up video cameras in the house after becoming disturbed by what appears to be a supernatural presence.

Field of Dreams (1989)

ghost movies  field of dreams

Ghosts and baseball, who knew? This Academy Award-nominated sports fantasy drama film is not your typical ghost story — it's about a farmer (Kevin Costner) who becomes convinced by a mysterious voice to build a baseball field, which attracts the ghosts of baseball legends.

The Others (2001)

ghost movies  the others

Nicole Kidman stars in this gothic supernatural film set in the 1940s about a mother who moves with her two children to the English coast during World War II. She begins to suspect their secluded mansion is being occupied by mysterious “others."

The Frighteners (1996)

ghost movies  the frighteners

Be prepared for both laughs and scares in this supernatural comedy horror flick from director Peter Jackson, best known for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, that follows an architect (Michael J. Fox) with the ability to communicate with ghosts after his wife's death.

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50 Greatest Ghost Movies Of All Time Ranked

Miss Giddens Gasping

Ghosts, spirits that linger on unanchored to a human body, are powerful tools in storytelling. Although typically a staple of horror movies, ghosts can be deployed in any genre, serving as an emissary into dark topics audiences usually prefer to ignore. The concept of a ghost has been around seemingly forever: exorcized in ancient Babylon , used in classical Greek plays, featured in Shakespeare's works, and passed down as folklore. 

Cinema has been an excellent form for ghost stories. You've probably encountered more movies about ghosts than you can count, from the Silent Era to the present day. With the help of rankings provided on Rotten Tomatoes and considering the cultural impact, with a sliver of personal opinion, we have ranked the 50 best movies about ghosts. While preferential treatment was shown to horror films, there is a blend of genres here.

49. The Amityville Horror (1979)

"The Amityville Horror" made a huge impact thanks to the reportedly true story making headlines years before. It also  spawned a franchise that consists of several sequels and a remake. Nonetheless, it starts off the list due to the rather confusing aspects of the supernatural occurrences. At one point, it's stated that their house contains a doorway to Hell. So, the forces tormenting them could certainly be demonic, but inhabitants of Hell would likely include souls, right? Maybe some of the utterly bonkers activity going on could have been perpetrated by ghosts.

You probably know the story already: One year after a man murders his entire family at home, the Lutzes move into the house. Strange happenings lead them to believe there is something very wrong with their home. As its effect on them grows darker, the film ratchets up the horror until culminating in a final night that is worse than they could have imagined.

Aside from the questions regarding what exactly is haunting the Lutz family, this is still an effective piece of horror with imagery and scenes that stick in your memory, haunting you long after the credits have finished rolling.

48. What Lies Beneath (2000)

As we will see with later entries on this list, the concept of unfinished business is a popular trope in ghost stories. The idea is that spirits often stick around after death to take care of something they were unable to in life. Very often, the unfinished business has to do with their own murder, as it does in the supernatural thriller "What Lies Beneath" from director Robert Zemeckis .

Zemeckis, who dabbled in horror previously with episodes of "Tales from the Crypt" and the dark comedy "Death Becomes Her," tells the story of a woman named Claire (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) coping with her husband Norman's (Harrison Ford) affair by communing with the spirit of his dead mistress, although she isn't aware that's what she's doing until later in the film.

Although the film contains some legitimately creepy moments, its primary concern is the mystery surrounding the mistress' murder and Norman's involvement. While Pfeiffer and Ford turn in solid performances, the real star of the film is its atmosphere. The gorgeous Vermont setting, incredible house, and serene lake become eerie and unsettling as the story unfolds, successfully bringing the audience into the story and holding them tightly until the film's final moments.

47. 13 Ghosts (1960)

Discussing the films of William Castle can be difficult because they were designed to be experienced, not simply watched. The notorious showman treated his movies like carnival exhibitions. He wasn't so much a storyteller as he was a promoter. He didn't want you to sit passively and marvel at the wonderful narrative; he wanted to get you to jump up and scream. He didn't do this by crafting quality films that would go on to stand the test of time; he achieved his desired effect through gimmicks.

For "Macabre," he had audience members sign an insurance policy in case they died from fright. Buzzers were installed under select seats during screenings of " The Tingler " to convince audiences the creature from the film was after them. " House on Haunted Hill " featured a plastic skeleton flying out over the audience. The original " 13 Ghosts " required viewers to put on special glasses referred to as supernatural viewers in order to see the ghosts on the screen.

While stunts like this usually have a short shelf life, several of his films, such as "13 Ghosts," are still fun to watch as a bit of retro fun. Is it scary? Not really. Does it reveal some profound insight into the human experience? Nope. It does, however, feature the greatest hits of horror movie cliches played up to their full, zany, and entertaining potential.

46. Heart and Souls (1993)

One of the first things you're likely to notice about the romantic comedy "Heart and Souls" is the incredible cast. While Robert Downey Jr. is the lead, the souls in question are played by powerhouses like the late Charles Grodin , Alfre Woodard (who reunited with Downey in "Captain America: Civil War"), Kyra Sedgwick, and Tom Sizemore. All of them are incredible actors who work exceptionally well together.

This is an unfinished business ghost story that offers several opportunities for Downey to show his acting chops. The four ghosts from 1959 who follow him around, almost serving as guardian angels, often step in to his body to achieve some of the aforementioned business and to help him fix his life. When they do, Downey has to essentially play a ghost pretending to be his character, leading to some solid physical comedy. While it may not be hilarious, the film is genuinely funny with a bittersweet tone that holds up years after its initial release.

45. Casper (1995)

Most of the time, "Casper" is a light-hearted and innocent little movie about a young girl (Christina Ricci) learning to accept change. After the death of her mother, Kat's father (Bill Pullman) immerses himself in his work, leaving her to grieve alone. Neither of them possesses the ability to communicate with each other regarding their mutual pain. When they move into a haunted house for work, Kat struggles to accept her new surroundings. Luckily, she meets a dead little boy who has such an intense crush on her that he's actually the one responsible for them moving here.

Usually, a plot about a ghost luring a girl to his home would be the plot of a horror flick. However, since Casper is a friendly ghost, it plays as cute and sad. There's a lot of that in this movie. "Casper" is actually a fairly dark film , when you think about it. Characters die and quickly return as cartoon ghosts, a man has his head completely turned around and he's still able to walk, and there's the entire film is predicated on the existence of a dead child. Good, family fun!

In retrospect, this is kind of refreshing. It isn't a film that ignores the reality of our mortality. If anything, it celebrates it. While the tone ranges from macabre to broad slapstick, it doesn't shy away from conversations regarding death. This, in its own way, seems healthy.

44. Grave Encounters (2011)

Found footage received a bad reputation thanks to a deluge of cynical filmmakers who didn't understand the format's potential. After the successes "The Blair Witch Project" and "Paranormal Activity," it seemed like anyone with a camera and half an idea thought they could make their own. Unfortunately, what these imitators lacked was any comprehension of why those films worked so well.

In 2011, when you couldn't escape found footage , "Grave Encounters" was a true diamond in the rough. Styled as the raw footage from a "Ghost Adventures"-style paranormal investigation series, the film sees greedy con artists investigating a haunted mental hospital. That alone is a fun idea, but what makes the film work so well is how it experiments with the concept as a commentary on manipulative "reality" television. 

That would be enough to make it interesting, but it's elevated even further by subverting the audience's expectations in subtle but very effective ways. If found footage fatigue (or the film's mediocre trailer ) stopped you from watching this underrated gem, give it a watch. You can skip the sequel, though. 

43. Insidious (2010)

James Wan's 2010 film "Insidious" has no right to be this good. It is, in effect, a modern take on "Poltergeist," with its own intriguing mythology. The explanation as to why this couple suddenly finds themselves surrounded by beings from beyond the void isn't as simple as "their house was built over a burial ground." Instead, it's a bit more metaphysical and unique.

The concept of creepy kids has already been done to death, but Wan found a way to make it work in a whole new way. The film is packed with genuinely frightening scenes and images. There's the pacing man outside the window who suddenly appears in the child's room, the boy standing against the wall who is barely glimpsed as Rose Byrne goes about her daily routine, and those terrifying pictures of grinning ghosts who are omnipresent but rarely seen.

Wan went on to even greater success with "The Conjuring" and its shared universe of paranormal films, but the original "Insidious" still stands as a legitimately creepy, intriguing, and suspenseful supernatural chiller that holds up on repeat viewings.

42. Lady in White (1988)

At first glance, "Lady in White" appears no different than other '80s films with kid protagonists. The opening credits are eerily idyllic, almost cozy, and the idea of a child communicating with the spirit of a girl his age certainly sounds like something Steven Spielberg might have attached his name to as a producer. Where this film differs from the likes of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and "The Goonies" is in its tone and the specifics of the plot.

This isn't a gender-swapped take on "Casper." This is a dark, melancholic supernatural murder mystery. Murders don't happen off-camera only to be discussed later in soft detail; in the first act, you see a girl being strangled. Yes, the strangulation is a form of repetitive haunting, so it doesn't have the same impact as watching a murder in real time, but it is harrowing. Minutes later, the boy witnessing this haunting (a pale, wide-eyed Lukas Haas) is also strangled, though he survives. It is deadly serious.

While it may not have become the cultural touchstone other films of the decade became, it does linger with you, as all great ghost stories should. For anyone who grew up watching this on cable, the nightmare-inducing scenes of the ghostly Lady in White standing outside the protagonist's window are likely still lodged in their subconscious.

41. The Legend of Hell House (1999)

Two things are made very clear within the first 10 minutes of this big-screen adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel: 1) This will not be a slow burn, and 2) Hell House is definitely haunted.

The film wastes no time getting the plot rolling. A doctor is tasked with investigating Hell House. He is assigned a small team consisting of two mediums and his own wife and they're off. What we learn about Hell House is that the man who owned it was really into debauchery and the occult. This means that the nature of the haunting is typically sexual and violent.

As Matheson (who adapted the novel himself ) did with the vampire mythology in his novel "I Am Legend," he attempts to provide a scientific explanation for hauntings. He does this to amplify the phenomena and make them more realistic. Unfortunately, it's not as successful here because he assumes the viewer is familiar with these concepts and takes very little time to elaborate.

At its core, "The Legend of Hell House" feels like a teenager's version of what they think Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" should have been. The violence and eroticism are overblown, the characters underdeveloped, and the science is half-baked. None of that is to say the film is bad. In fact, its flaws and the atmospheric cinematography make it incredibly entertaining and worth a watch.

40. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" isn't a terribly exciting story. The author takes his time establishing the beauty of the village in which it takes place and detailing Ichabod Crane's personality, but the horror elements we've come to associate with the tale don't arrive until much later. The prose is all about establishing the proper atmosphere before the final payoff.

Tim Burton's film "Sleepy Hollow" is certainly atmospheric, but it ignores the long, detailed setup to tell a funny, exciting, and uncharacteristically gory mystery. In this version, the Headless Horseman isn't an elusive and mysterious phantom, he is a tool of destruction wielded by an angry and bitter individual. He stalks his prey like a silent slasher before brutally murdering them and taking their heads back to his sacred tree.

The only way to truly enjoy the film is to ignore logic, give only the slightest attention to plot, and simply soak up the imagery. As Peter Travers stated in his Rolling Stone review , "Even when the narrative stalls from too many detours and decapitations, 'Sleepy Hollow' is gorgeous filmmaking that brims over with fun-house thrills and ravishing romance."

39. Stir of Echoes (1999)

Another adaptation of a Richard Matheson novel, this time handled by frequent Spielberg collaborator David Koepp, "Stir of Echoes" is a gripping murder mystery with a flawed, unintentional hero at its center.

Released the same year as M. Night Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense," it doesn't pack the same emotional punch, but is equally well crafted and intelligent. Opening with a creepy scene of a young boy having a conversation with someone we cannot see and asking the question, "Does it hurt to be dead?" it certainly feels like another "Sixth Sense," but it's soon revealed that the focus is actually an adult, Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon).  

Witzky is a working-class guy who makes the mistake of allowing his sister-in-law to hypnotize him, awakening latent abilities. Following the hypnotism, Witzky begins having visions of a murder that occurred in his house. He becomes obsessed with discovering the truth. As the mystery unfolds, we can't help but identify with his determination.

For the most part, "Stir of Echoes" is a pretty standard movie with a few surprises. It may not be an earth-shattering masterpiece, but it is very well made and deserves to be talked about more.

38. The Frighteners (1996)

Before Peter Jackson was winning Academy Awards for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," he was mostly known for his work in the horror genre—specifically, his extreme splatter flicks, like the gross-out alien invasion movie " Bad Taste ," the bonkers and raunchy puppet film " Meet the Feebles ," and the unhinged gorefest " Dead Alive ." In 1994, he successfully tried his hand at magical realism with " Heavenly Creatures ," a stylized account of the very real Parker-Hulme murder case .

He could have easily continued down the dramatic path, but 1996 saw a return to horror (albeit with a much slicker look thanks to a Hollywood budget) with the hilarious and thrilling film "The Frighteners." Starring the always-charismatic Michael J. Fox as a medium who exploits his ability to communicate with the dead for financial gain, the film is a powerhouse of comedy and creativity.

Quite frankly, "The Frighteners" is a blast. The jokes don't always land, but it moves with such a fevered pace that you don't mind. The performances are stellar, with Jeffrey Combs as a quirky FBI agent being the real standout. Also, the film cleverly deploys computer technology to allow the ghosts to interact with the real world and to craft a suitably creepy villain.

37. Scrooged (1988)

When compiling a list of ghost movies, you have to include at least one adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol." However, there are so many to choose from that the entirety of the list could be made up of the various adaptations . That's where personal choice and cultural perspective come into place. The 1988 Richard Donner film "Scrooged" won out over all the others simply for its creative and meta take on the material.

Not only is this film about a greedy curmudgeon who is visited by three ghosts who show him the error of his ways, but it also takes place in a world where Charles Dickens' story exists. The main character, played by Bill Murray, is actually overseeing a live production of the story to go out on Christmas. This allows the film to comment on the source material while honoring it at the same time.

The cast is phenomenal, Danny Elfman's score is magical, and the satire still packs a lot of bite. Of course, as great as the entire film is, it's that last moment when Bill Murray pleads with the audience to feel the Christmas cheer all year round that makes this film the uplifting classic it is.

36. The Fog (1980)

Two years after the original "Halloween" popularized the slasher film as we know it, John Carpenter made "The Fog," a classic ghost story set in an island town. While the film struggles to capture the same kind of tension and suspense Carpenter achieved in "Halloween," it does create an atmosphere that almost seems to seep its way off the screen.

The narrative is a little all over the place with several point-of-view characters, making it feel like an adaptation of a story Stephen King never wrote. This is one of the film's weaknesses, as it would have been far more engrossing to follow one character. They're all interesting and find themselves in unexpected situations once the malevolent fog rolls in bringing the ghosts of dead pirates with it, but jumping back and forth between them kills some of the momentum.

Aside from its structural shortcomings, the film has some real highlights. Dean Cundey's cinematography is always immersive and captivating. Seeing Janet Leigh in a film alongside her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis is a lot of fun. Then, of course, there's John Carpenter's mesmerizing score. Music is always important in film, but for John Carpenter movies they're crucial. In the case of "The Fog," it's the score that makes the movie truly great.

35. Candyman (1992)

Speaking of wonderful scores, Philip Glass' theme music for the 1992 film "Candyman" (titled Helen's Theme) is heartbreakingly gorgeous. It perfectly defines the nature of the film. With a title like "Candyman," one could easily assume this was nothing more than an attempt at inventing a new movie monster in the vein of Jason or Freddy. Instead, this adaptation of a Clive Barker short story is much more cerebral, mythic, and tragic than that.

Although the 2021 sequel does a much better job at discussing some of the themes introduced here, the original still stands on its own as a beautiful and grotesque gothic experience. From cinematography that makes Chicago look like something out of a damaged fairy tale, to the art direction exploring the dichotomy between modernity and myth, to Tony Todd's riveting performance, "Candyman" is a ghost story with much more to offer than the standard thrills and chills.

As Michael Rechtshaffen with The Hollywood Reporter said in his review, "This Candyman can elicit some bona fide shivers while the picture that bears his name is high-caliber horror in its purest, most primal form."

34. Crimson Peak (2015)

From one example of gothic horror to another, Guillermo del Toro's "Crimson Peak" is a huge, lavish, and twisted romance full of beautifully hideous creations, per the filmmaker's trademarks. There aren't many scares in this haunting period piece, but that's not always the intent with a dark ghost story. As we said before, ghosts can serve many purposes in a narrative, and "Peak" is an example of the supernatural being used as a metaphor for secrets and regret.

Edith (Mia Wasikowska) marries an inventor named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), who lives with his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Edith is warned by a ghost to beware of something called Crimson Peak early in the film, but she doesn't listen. She relocates to the Sharpe's manse, Allerdale Hall, which stands atop and is sinking into a red clay mine, aka Crimson Peak.

Like many gothic romances, the truth of her relationship is much more complicated and the mystery she uncovers is much darker and stranger than even the audience can anticipate. The film makes this list thanks to the sheer beauty of its artistry and striking depiction of ghosts. The film manages to feel like a classic story you've known all your life while also being fresh and new.

33. Blithe Spirit (1945)

1945's "Blithe Spirit," from the play by Noël Coward, has the kind of premise that makes one think they know exactly what they're in for before the story begins. It's about a writer who hosts a séance at his home as research for his new book. At first, it seems as though the séance was unsuccessful, but then the author's late wife Elvira walks in. Naturally, this leads to bitterness and jealousy between Ruth, his current wife, and himself. While that is true, the story takes some truly strange twists along the way.

For the most part, the three leads of the film are selfish twits. Charles, the writer, never really appreciated either wife and finds his current predicament amusing. Elvira was an unfaithful showboat who held everyone in contempt. Ruth only cares about how others see her. That should make for an unlikable story, but all of it is played for laughs, and most of the comedy still works.

While everyone is good in the movie, Margaret Rutherford steals the show as the eccentric medium Madame Arcati. From the moment she arrives, she captures your attention and rewards you with an energetic and charming performance. Arcati is pleasant, courteous, and just batty enough to keep you smiling. 

32. Monster House (2006)

The haunted house is the backbone of any ghost story. Although houses are nothing more than building materials placed together to provide shelter, humans pin their identities to them. Perhaps that's why the sight of an abandoned house often makes us feel so uneasy. Lives were lived there, but now it is a shell haunted by memories. Many stories use ghosts as a metaphor for memories, suggesting it is the emptiness in what was once a place of joy that makes a house haunted.

This is not the case with the 2006 animated horror-comedy "Monster House." There is something very wrong going on at the house in question, and there's nothing metaphorical about it. The house itself is possessed by a former occupant. Not only that, but this ghost is angry. It lashes out at anyone who dares trespass, particularly children, making it a dangerous place to go trick-or-treating.

"Monster House" should be on anyone's Halloween watchlist alongside standards like "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and "Hocus Pocus." It is that inventive, funny, and good.

31. Pulse (2001)

In order to keep telling ghost stories without them getting old, you have to try and reinvent them a little bit. A subtle tweak here and there can go a very long way. Writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa brought a unique perspective to the concept of ghosts in his 2001 film "Pulse" by evolving them for the 21st century.

This film posits that the world where ghosts reside is finite and, if it gets too full, the ghosts will have to start inhabiting our world. That is an interesting enough take on ghost mythology to justify the film's existence, but Kurosawa takes things a step further by suggesting human beings, in their isolated worlds desperate to connect with one another, are ghosts already.

For a movie that was made in the relatively early years of the internet boom (one protagonist barely understands how to operate a computer), it is eerily prescient about what our digital lives would become. We spend all our time online, communicating with others, but never truly connecting—just like ghosts damned to silently wander the mortal realm alone.

30. Ghost Town (2008)

David Koepp makes his second appearance on this list, this time with a very different kind of ghost movie than "Stir of Echoes." "Ghost Town" is a romantic comedy about a man named Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) who can communicate with ghosts after briefly dying while under anesthesia. The film falls into the unfinished business category of ghost movies, as these spirits are desperate for him to help them resolve their respective unfinished business.

One ghost in particular,  played by Greg Kinnear , wants Bertram to stop his widow (Téa Leoni) from marrying someone new. Bertram agrees but falls in love with her himself. It's a fun way of subverting the rom-com trope of two people coming together under false pretenses. We've seen what happens when people start dating because of a bet or because of a little sociological experiment, so this is a fun little twist that keeps the narrative fresh.

It's also a nice change of pace for Gervais, who usually plays sardonic and selfish characters. In this film, he's just a lonely dentist who needed to die to learn how to live. The film won't change your life, but it will keep you smiling for the majority of its runtime.

29. 1408 (2007)

With all the stories Stephen King has published, you might think there'd be no need to adapt more than one with a similar premise. After the initial failure and later success of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" and King's own 1997 TV mini-series adaptation, there's really no sense in making another Stephen King film set in a hotel. Director Mikael Hafstrom did it anyway and, thanks to a great script by Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, and Larry Karaszewski, the result is a solid, entertaining, and suspenseful little horror movie.

The premise is simple: A man who writes books about haunted hotels stays in a haunted room in New York City. The Overlook Hotel in "The Shining" allowed for long scenes of characters slowly walking down corridors to build the tension, but "1408" is just one guy in one room. It's claustrophobic and suffocating, offering just enough space for shadows to pass just out of the corner of the eye. 

The film has just enough violence to establish the stakes without indulging in extreme gore. It also delivers the goods on the supernatural. It may not stand the test of time as the best film to be adapted from the work of Stephen King, but it certainly deserves a mention.

Like Mick LaSalle wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, "'1408' is one of the good Stephen King adaptations, one that maintains its author's sly sense of humor and satiric view of human nature."

28. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2014)

There's no reason a sequel/prequel to the 2014 film "Ouija" should be this entertaining and interesting. The former film was nothing more than a dull attempt to build a franchise around a recognizable gimmick with absolutely nothing to say. There isn't a single concept or character worth the audience's time, despite an honest attempt by the people on screen to elevate the lackluster material.

The choice to bring on Mike Flanagan as the co-writer and director for the sequel was ingenious. Since his film "Oculus" hit it big, the director has consistently proven himself to be one of the strongest voices in horror cinema currently working. What makes him such an interesting filmmaker is his respect for the genre. He doesn't come across as someone who dabbles in horror simply because it sells. "Hush," "Gerald's Game," "The Haunting of Hill House," and "Doctor Sleep" all have depth and powerful vision behind them.

You can see some of his hallmarks starting to form in "Ouija: Origin of Evil." The visual style is engaging, the horror elements are just strange enough to be unsettling but playful, and there is a real family drama unfolding. These characters feel like real people we care about, making the terrifying events that befall them all the more tragic. 

27. Ghost (1990)

Yes, "Ghost" is the movie where Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore make pottery together. That's the moment most closely associated with this paranormal romance, but it is far from the only interesting thing in the film. For instance, it was directed by comedy giant Jerry Zucker . Aside from being a touching love story about a dead man trying to protect the woman he left behind, "Ghost" is a fascinating and surprisingly dark supernatural thriller with some excellent world-building.

It would've been easy for the filmmakers to stick with common ghost story tropes by making Moore the protagonist attempting to decipher cryptic messages, hoping it's her lost love. Instead, it's told from the ghost's point of view, and the world he inhabits isn't as simple as it appears. He has to learn how to influence the physical world from a more experienced spectral mentor. In fact, the only way he can speak to anyone directly is by possessing a psychic.

A scene that doesn't get nearly as much attention as it should is when the villain of the film is dragged to hell by shadow creatures. It's a satisfyingly dark scene in an otherwise optimistic film that sticks with you long after the parodies of the pottery scene fade from memory.

26. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

There have been so many "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies since the original was released in 2003, it's easy to forget how good that initial outing was. It's a swashbuckling comedy stuffed with exciting action, vibrant characters, solid comedy, and interesting mythology that still works to this day. Plus, as Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) points out himself, it's a ghost story.

This is the kind of adventure film that has become increasingly rare. Although it contains some truly impressive spectacles, the emphasis remains on the characters and their interactions. If you put people like this in a dangerous situation, it will be inherently exciting, because we like their interplay. As the films continued, the focus shifted to bigger and stranger action. While some of the creative choices in the sequels are admirably bizarre, they fail to measure up to the pure fun captured in the original "Pirate of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."

25. Personal Shopper (2016)

Two movies are happening in "Personal Shopper." One reflects the title: A personal shopper (played by Kristen Stewart) for a high-profile client covets her lavish lifestyle. We have several scenes of her admiring the clothes she's buying for her boss and even trying them on. She even admits to wanting to be someone else, suggesting that she envies her boss. This sounds like the setup to a murder mystery, but that's not really the story director Olivier Assayas is telling.

The other movie is still about Stewart's character, but it's interested in her search for evidence of life after death. Her twin brother, who worked in Paris as a medium, is dead, and she is looking for a sign from him indicating he is now a ghost. She sees blurry visions of a spectral form and communicates via text message with someone who claims to know her, but whose identity is never revealed, but none of it proves to her that her brother is trying to reach her.

Both movies are separately interesting, and intertwining them as the same narrative actually detracts from the story being told. Still, it makes the list for the matter-of-fact way it deals with the paranormal. Watching a glass float across the room isn't treated as a terrifying or magical moment; it's simply a thing that happens. Also, the text exchange running through most of the film is compelling enough a mystery to keep you invested.

24. The Changeling (1980)

George C. Scott is an imposing, larger-than-life figure who commands every frame he inhabits. There's a reason this guy was famous for playing a U.S. General in "Patton": he's loud, gruff, and intimidating. Therefore, it's all the more chilling when this figure becomes withdrawn, quiet, and reflective, as he is in the 1980 supernatural film "The Changeling."

Scott plays John Russell, a composer who loses his wife and child when they are hit by a car on an icy road. Their deaths happen very early in the film and pack a punch that you can feel through the entire film, thanks to Scott's melancholic performance. This is a man devoid of direction and meaning, trying to find his way back to some sense of normalcy, but stuck wandering the quiet corridors of the secluded house he escapes to in order to continue his work.

The character's grief pulls us to the character and keeps us invested in his journey. The fact that the house is haunted only serves to pull us even further into this cold, bleak world. By the time the secrets of the house are revealed, we are so enraptured that we can't brace ourselves for an intense and emotional ending.

23. The Others (2001)

Horror films don't need to have twist endings. It is perfectly acceptable to craft a film with no major third-act revelations and still make the ending satisfying. In fact, one could argue that introducing a twist to your film's finale runs the risk of ruining the audience's understanding of the narrative, confusing them to the degree that they no longer enjoy the experience. 

That's when a twist is done badly. When it's done well, it adds texture to the rest of the film, increasing the audience's enjoyment. To do this, the film first needs to work on its own without the twist, but with enough clues to justify the surprise ending. That is exactly what "The Others" from 2001 does. From beginning to end, it is an engrossing and scary ghost story about an overprotective mother. When it reaches the end and the truth is revealed, however, it brings those subtle clues into the light and gives a new reading to everything that has gone before.

This in no way robs the film of its horror. If anything, it twists the scares into a richer and more intriguing shape. It's still a haunted house movie, but the nature of the haunting and the glimpses we get of the other world is different than we expected, making the film worth watching over again to fully appreciate the sadness at its core.

22. The Orphanage (2007)

On the surface, "The Orphanage" appears to be nothing more than a spooky kid story. Just the image of a child in simple, faded clothing wearing a sack mask over their head is deeply unsettling. The mind wonders what the mask is hiding or what kind of a child would willingly wear such a repellent thing.

Once you dive into the film, however, you learn that something much deeper and more complex is going on. Soon, you're not scared just because of the imagery, but also because many of the concepts discussed in the film work their way into you. By the movie's conclusion, the rush of emotions is so powerful you have no idea how to react. On the one hand, the truth revealed is disturbing and the protagonist's decision is agonizing; on the other, the suggestion that it is exactly what she needed to do is kind of beautiful.

Miami Herald film critic Rene Rodriguez summed up the film's strengths perfectly when he said , "The movie is so good at using its horror elements to explore deeper, less fantastical emotions. For all its bump-in-the-night suspense, 'The Orphanage' is ultimately as much about motherhood and grief as it is about apparitions and shadowy corridors." 

21. Beetlejuice (1988)

"Beetlejuice" was director Tim Burton's second feature film. Considering that the first film was "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," it's no surprise that this story about a grimy, mischievous spirit conning his way into the afterlives of a recently deceased married couple is so funny. What is surprising, though, is just how confident and assured it is. 

Almost everything we would come to associate with Burton truly took shape here on both a stylistic and thematic level. Many of the distorted visuals and concepts are highly exaggerated and reminiscent of some of his later work. Just like "Batman," "Batman Returns," "Edward Scissorhands," "Ed Wood," and even "Big Fish," "Beetlejuice" is largely about duality: the duality between the living world and the land of the dead, the duality between the tacky Deetz family and the tasteful Maitlands, the duality between the comfort of the Maitland's home and the void outside. Even the black-and-white, double-mouthed Sandworms represent duality. While it may not be held up as the pinnacle of Burton's career, it should definitely be viewed as a cornerstone.

20. Carnival of Souls (1962)

Virtually everything about the 1962 film "Carnival of Souls" is fascinating. From the film's haunting and dreamlike atmosphere to the story of how it came to be made  and the enormous influence it's had on film , there is always something about it worth exploring and discussing in great detail. Yet, it still isn't as well known as the majority of movies on this list, which is a real shame.

That said, the movie isn't for everyone. Younger audience members will likely struggle with its pacing, obvious budgetary flaws, and lack of jump scares or driving narrative. Anyone looking for a complicated plot full of twists and turns will also be disappointed. "Carnival of Souls" is eerie and occasionally verges on truly scary, but the real draw of the film is the way it simulates the experience of trying to remember a dream.

Imagine being affected by a dream so powerful you can't shake it for the entire day, but the specifics still elude you. As you go about your normal routine, there's a haze of surreal confusion swimming around your head. It's almost as though you exist in two realms at once, stalked by ghoulish imagery that simultaneously frightens and compels you to explore further.

That is what it's like for the main character who is drifting through life after a car accident, and that is how the audience feels as we take this haunting journey with her.

19. The Sixth Sense (1999)

Perhaps no filmmaker is as closely associated with twist endings as M. Night Shyamalan. The writer/director has been mercilessly parodied for his penchant for third-act reveals  over the years . Given the nosedive Shyamalan's career took post-" The Lady in the Water ," it's understandable that many audience members might have forgotten just how powerful "The Sixth Sense" was upon its release.

Unlike "The Others," this is an example of a twist that doesn't transform our understanding of the movie, it just makes much of the dialogue more poignant. The entire time we think we're watching a man help a young boy dealing with a very unique problem when in actuality it's been the reverse. Would the movie still work without the twist? It probably would, but in this case, it makes Bruce Willis' character more emotionally resonant.

Something that doesn't get talked about as much is how scary the movie is. The reveal of the kid with the bullet wound in the back of his head is more shocking than any jumpscare, and the scene where Cole realizes it isn't his mother standing in the kitchen grips you so firmly you feel you're being strangled. So, if you've never seen the film, ignore the cliché of Shyamalan's love for twist endings and give it a chance. You might still be surprised.

18. The Uninvited (1944)

If you were to close your eyes and imagine a classic, gothic ghost story, it would probably look a lot like Lewis Allen's film "The Uninvited." It is bathed in shadow and candlelight, with mysterious breezes and shivering chills and dark secrets. It is a classic ghost story in every sense.

Where it differs from many other classic ghost movies is in its decision to not keep its ghosts completely hidden. Instead of just hearing mysterious noises and seeing the occasional object being moved by an unseen force, "The Uninvited" includes some possession. There are even a few instances of ghostly manifestations that still hold up today, occasionally resembling the kind of "real ghost" footage found in countless videos online.

That, perhaps, speaks to the film's attempts at making the concept of hauntings feel plausible. As Keith Philips pointed out in his review, "'The Uninvited' was...one of the first films to treat the supernatural seriously, and to play ghosts and hauntings as something other than fodder for comedy." The decision to treat the ghost story as something that could really happen has gone on to influence how we talk about the paranormal to this day.

17. Poltergeist (1982)

You may not have given "Poltergeist" a lot of thought lately. Maybe you saw it as a kid and have grown to think of it as quaint. You might think, "Sure, the scene where the guy rips his face off in the bathroom mirror was cool, but the movie is tame and terribly dated when compared to modern horror films." Then again, you could be more interested in the rumors of a supposed curse that came about by using actual skeletons in the film's final moments. 

Make no mistake, "Poltergeist" is terrifying. Yeah, it was rated PG when it came out, and there are way more over-done special effects than there need to be, but when this movie works—and it often does—it is gripping. Just think of the imposing tree waiting just outside the children's window, or the maniacal clown doll watching the little boy try to sleep. Conjure up memories of the demonic, ethereal skeletal dog thing roaring from the doorway, and the mundane yet chilling static buzzing away on unwatched televisions.

"Poltergeist" deserves to make any and every list of best ghost movies because it does everything a classic haunting tale needs to while supercharging it with nightmarish images that still lurk within the subconscious.

16. The Haunting (1963)

Fans of the 2018 Netflix series "The Haunting of Hill House" might be surprised and confused by the Robert Wise 1963 adaptation of Shirley Jackson's classic novel. While the series was able to conjure fear out of what you do and don't see, this psychological deep-dive into paranoia is all about suggestion. There is not a single ghost to be seen, and the film makes never overtly states that the sounds heard in the middle of the night were actually caused by the supernatural. So, why is it on this list of ghost movies? 

Well, that's the thing about the paranormal—there's no definitive evidence supporting its existence. We have anecdotal evidence, personal stories recounted by the people who experienced certain things. There's a galaxy of audio and video that could be considered "evidence," but most of it is debunked or explained rationally. Those that defy explanation still don't constitute proof.

When it comes to the question of whether or not ghosts exist, the only suitable answer is: We don't know. Therefore, when "The Haunting" ends and you find yourself wondering if there even were any ghosts in that movie, that's the point.

15. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

When telling a ghost story, it is possible to have your cake and eat it too. Most movies take one stance or the other: either the ghosts are real or they're metaphors. This Kim Jee-woon film has it both ways. There are two very distinct kinds of hauntings going on in the film. The obvious one involves the terrifying woman who occasionally appears to let the audience know that something seriously wrong happened in this house. The other one is about grief and guilt.

It's true, something terrible did happen in that house. Discovering this event is the mystery of the film. The resolution is what leads to the double hauntings. One haunting is a literal supernatural consequence of someone being mistreated in life and the other is a more emotional after-effect. While watching the film, you keep expecting the protagonist to stumble on some clue that takes them down the rabbit hole of mystery, but it never happens.

That may sound unsatisfactory, but that's only if you can't appreciate the fact that the film had successfully distracted you into asking the wrong questions. The last 15 minutes or so is all about answering questions you didn't know you'd had. These answers heighten make you reconsider the narrative in a similar way to "The Others." If the film were a magic trick, this misdirection would be a perfect execution of sleight of hand.

14. House (1977)

Discussing 1977's "House" is difficult because the film defies explanation. It plays out like a student film by someone who is incredibly talented but distracted by all the possibilities of editing. In the middle of an otherwise normal dialogue scene, a character will suddenly scurry across the frame to silly music and then go back to normal. The image speeds up and slows down at random. Cuts jump from one person to an object to another person with no connective tissue. Then there's the insanity of the final act, which can only be described as...different.

Honestly, nothing anyone says about this film can prepare you for the experience of watching it. We can throw out avant-garde or arthouse, but they are meaningless here. Sometimes it is fairly linear and easy to follow; other times, it's utter nonsense. Occasionally there's a scene with a genuine atmosphere, seconds later it devolves into some of the strangest comedy you've ever seen.

The reason it's so high on the list is that it's never boring and there's nothing quite like it. Some of the gorier comedy scenes remind you of "The Evil Dead," and the more surreal sound editing and camera moments evoke David Lynch, but it's even more extreme than either of those two examples. If you're tired of the same old ghost story tropes, you need to watch "House."

13. We Are Still Here (2015)

Sometimes movies follow paths from beginning to end with no real change. The plot may surprise us, but the outlook and tone of the film remain consistent throughout. Other times, a movie begins as one thing and ends as something entirely different. Both are perfectly valid, but the latter tends to provide a more enriching experience because they have taken you on a truly transformative journey. That is absolutely the case with Ted Geoghegan's film "We Are Still Here." 

When the film begins, it establishes a somber, wintery tone. This seems obvious because the film takes place in winter, but it's also because the expression on lead actress Barbara Crampton's face tells us everything we need to know about her: she is hurting. The source of that pain comes from the loss of her son. She and her husband are moving to a country house to escape the city and the memories of their son.

At first, everything progresses like your typical haunted house movie. There are strange noises and happenings that get them to think something strange is going on, but they're never totally sure what it is. About halfway through, however, everything changes, and this eerie little movie becomes an eldritch horror spectacular with deeply disturbing ghosts, maniacal humans, and showers of gore.

Some of the more sentimental moments might leave you giggling, but the horror that follows will shut you up again.

12. The Devil's Backbone (2001)

If there's one thing about director Guillermo del Toro that everyone knows, it's that he loves monsters. Few filmmakers working today have strived to make monsters feel real while still retaining their mythic status as del Toro. His entire filmography features titles that explore monsters in some way. He has reinvented them and brought them out into the light to be examined and understood in new ways for years.

With his 2001 film "The Devil's Backbone," he does the same thing with ghosts. Santi, the ghost of the film, does what the best del Toro creations always do: disgust and frighten at first glance, only to reel you in over time. He isn't a blurry apparition or a perfect human form in white makeup to make him appear ethereal. He's almost like a zombie at first, with his decaying skin and dead stare. The closer we get, though, the more we see and understand his sadness.

Similar to "Pan's Labyrinth," the film is just as much about the horrors of war as it is about the supernatural. It is clear to whom del Toro has pledged his allegiance, since the human characters are often times scarier than the things that go bump in the night. It is a unique and fascinating take on a cliché-prone genre that stands as one of the strongest pillars of del Toro's career.

11. La Llorona (2019)

Released shortly after "The Curse of La Llorona," director Jayro Bustamante's "La Llorona" was lost in the hype. It is more than just a common ghost story attempting to exploit the recognizable legend of The Weeping Woman . Instead, it re-contextualizes it into a tale that's even more socially poignant. This isn't simply a spooky story to warn children about wandering around at night; it is about what happens when terrible crimes go unpunished.

The film focuses on a fictional former dictator who closely mirrors the real-life dictator  Efraín Ríos Montt  and the failure to convict him of genocide. As people protest his home, his life begins to crumble due to illness, and the people around him begin mistrusting him. Then we meet Alma, a quiet young woman hired to look after the house. Her appearance brings strange occurrences and old secrets.

It is a deeper, sadder film that manages to honor the origins of the legend by modernizing it, as opposed to resorting to lame jump scares and tired imagery.

10. The Shining (1980)

By the time you're reading this, there is really nothing to add to the discussion surrounding Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining." Most people know the film was not a critical success when it was released and that Stephen King, who wrote the book it was based on, didn't like it . Chances are you're even aware of all the different theories about what the film means and the documentary "Room 237" that discusses them.

All we can really do here is mention what makes it such an effective ghost movie. Audiences can continue to debate every frame of the film all they want; what matters here is how Kubrick depicts the supernatural, because it is one of the strangest and truly unsettling approaches to showing the paranormal on this entire list.

Our fear of ghosts comes from a lack of understanding. We don't know what they are or even if they exist. If they do exist, we have no grasp of what it is they want or what they're capable of. Kubrick taps into that confusion masterfully. The few times we see ghosts in the film, we're not quite sure how to react. There's something inherently off-putting about them, but nothing overtly threatening—that is, until one of them tries to kill Danny.

There is an unknowable quality to the ghosts in the film that needles at our subconscious. Evading comprehension is their superpower and it's what makes them so very, very scary.

9. A Ghost Story (2017)

The image of a sheet with eyes cut into it to symbolize a ghost has been used countless times. Usually, it is a childlike interpretation of a spirit and a low-budget Halloween costume. There is a sweetness to it that harkens back to simpler times. Seeing it as an adult can make you laugh at its naïveté, but it can also be used to evoke great nostalgia and powerful melancholy.

That push and pull between perfect innocence and jaded maturity are what makes "A Ghost Story" so enthralling. We should find scenes of a ghost as a sheet goofy, but it's too familiar to be laughed at. While seeing it, we not only acknowledge what it is supposed to represent but also feel undeniable regret over the loss of childhood and our own potential. 

As our protagonist witnesses life continuing without him, we are confronted with all the choices we never made, the potential we may never fulfill, and the chances we never took. It is an uncomfortable truth we all must face and "A Ghost Story" allows us to do that with grace.

8. Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)

With the surge in popularity of American studios remaking Japanese horror movies , it's easy to forget just how unsettling and creepy some of the original films are. "Ju-On: The Grudge," which was remade in 2004 starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, is a perfect example. From the very beginning of the original, anger and darkness permeate the film and never let up.

Under most circumstances, murders are plot conveniences in ghost stories. They set up why the ghosts are shambling around and causing a ruckus. Very rarely do they cause the audience to feel anything. They exist solely to scare us later. In this film, the murders trouble us. They're more than just a functional backstory, as they give birth to the curse that goes on to claim so many victims.

The pain experienced by the murder victims prior to the main events of the film is so intense and all-consuming that the ghosts move in agonized, horrendous fashion, barely able to mimic human mobility. It is this commitment to depicting the cruelty of murder and its consequences that makes the film so scary and one of the best ghost movies ever made.

7. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

"The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" is a film about two people who simply met at the wrong time. One is a widow (Mrs. Muir) trying to make a life for herself in England. The other is a former sea captain who is used to a scrappier lifestyle and happens to also be dead. 

As is the case with many love stories, the pair aren't sure what to make of each other at first. As they spend more time together, they collaborate on a novel and fall in love. Of course, they're incapable of having a fulfilling relationship given their different living statuses and the ghost goes away, allowing her to find someone new. Having the protagonists separate only to reunite by the end is a common trope in romances, but at least in this one, it doesn't feel contrived. Usually, the couple splits up due to some moronic misunderstanding. This time, it actually makes sense and makes the film all the more rewarding when they meet again.

6. Kwaidan (1964)

When someone says you can watch a film with the sound off and still appreciate it, that's usually a form of damning something with faint praise—as if to say that everything about a film other than its visuals is a complete waste of time. However, if someone says that about the 1965 Masaki Kobayashi horror anthology "Kwaidan," it is more a positive statement on the film's complexity rather than an insult.

The film consists of four stories. Each is a fable with dark underpinnings. From a man being cursed by the deceased wife he abandoned to another man going back on a promise he made to a spirit, a musician performing for an audience of ghosts, and a writer who may still be working from a watery grave, each installment offers a chilling story that will hold you in its snare.

On top of entertaining stories being well told, every frame is gorgeous. Watching the film is like entering a reality built for a stage without borders. The film is crafted in every sense of the word and is a feast for gluttonous eyes. It is so beautiful and engaging and layered that you can enjoy it in pieces, all at once, or even without the sound.

5. Rebecca (1940)

Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca" is a tough one to include on this list because the haunting in question is so metaphorical and cerebral that it probably isn't supernatural at all. The decision to add it was based on the debates it can spark about the nature of hauntings. Do we need to see objects levitating, doors slamming, and mysterious breezes for it to be a ghost story? Can't a ghost simply be lingering dread that clings to the living?

"Rebecca" is a movie about a woman who becomes the second wife of Maxim, a cold man who is clearly grappling with some trauma. His new wife tries to make him happy and take the place of his first wife, the titular Rebecca, but is unsuccessful. The presence of the former Mrs. de Winter permeates the entire house. She was a bitter woman and the effects of her behavior still touch the people who survived her.

Who's to say that's not how a real haunting would work? Instead of all the spectacle, we've come to expect from other ghost movies, maybe a true haunting is just a memory that refuses to let you go.

4. Ringu (1998)

When a film is remade as successfully as "Ringu," you can't help but compare them. Gore Verbinski's take on the material ("The Ring") is creepy, stylish, and crowd-pleasing. It has everything American audiences expect from a horror film with a nice twist at the end. There's no argument that it isn't a well-made and effective film.

The original, directed by Hideo Nakata, makes the list over the remake for its lack of slick production value. Despite its fantastical subject matter (a video that kills whoever watches it), "Ringu" has a realistic quality in its production that grounds it in a recognizable world. This goes a long way in making the supernatural elements even scarier because we don't expect those kinds of things to happen in the real world.

The best way to explain this is to talk about the tapes featured in both films. They are very similar and equally unnerving, but the world depicted in "The Ring" is so visually heightened that it almost makes sense that a tape like that would exist. Within the world of "Ringu," the tape resembles nothing else we've seen up to that point. It's simpler, too, making it all the scarier.

3. Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)

A metaphor that isn't explored all that often in ghost stories is the concept of ghosts as temptation. It's a realistic interpretation since many of us are tempted to believe in ghosts because their existence suggests life beyond death. However, we're not sure what that kind of afterlife would entail. Perhaps it's everything we could have dreamed, or it's terrible beyond our worst imaginings.

Kenji Mizoguchi's "Ugetsu Monogatari" explores this idea through the lens of Japan's past. It is ostensibly about two men who leave security behind in order to achieve their dreams. Both men are married and refuse to listen to their wives' reasoning for staying home and preparing for the war instead of going off on a fool's errand. One wife even tells her husband that as long as she has him, she doesn't need anything else.

The poor life isn't for him, however, and he goes out to seek his fortune. He falls in love with a ghost, leading to the loss of everything he holds dear. Although the temptation of achieving one's dreams can sometimes consume us, we might all be chasing ghosts.

2. The Innocents (1961)

Modern audiences who dislike black-and-white films should be forced to watch Jack Clayton's adaptation of Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" to truly understand how effective the lack of color can be. 

While Netflix's own adaptation of James' novel "The Haunting of Bly Manor" may be more to their tastes, there isn't a single moment in that wonderful series that matches the simplest scene in 1961's "The Innocents." As Flora hums a tune from a music box, the governess Miss Giddens glances over the water to fully appreciate the beautiful day they're having.

Her eyes land on a woman in black standing just far enough away to obscure some of her features, making it difficult to make out who she is or what she's doing. It's better than any jumpscare and could only work in black and white. A stark black figure rising from the light gray grass draws your attention and is visually arresting. Had the scene been shot in color, it wouldn't have been nearly as powerful.

The rest of the film operates like that as well. Some of the scary moments are simple, sometimes they're complicated, but all work in part because of the lack of color. We are watching shadows move across the screen like lonely spirits passing in the night.

1. Ghostbusters (1984)

We won't be getting academic or philosophical with this entry. Explaining why "Ghostbusters" tops this list is incredibly easy and can be summed up in three words: it's so good. There are definitely films here that are better constructed on a technical level and have higher artistic visions, but "Ghostbusters" is by far the funniest and most entertaining movie of the bunch.

Directed by the late Ivan Reitman , the film is a comedy masterpiece. No matter how many times you've seen it, you're bound to find something new to enjoy. The cast is phenomenal, playing off each other like the seasoned veterans that they are. The grimy world of New York City is tactile and real, allowing the supernatural to shine. 

It is also an example of a truly transformative movie. "Ghostbusters" begins with a creepy scene in the basement of a library and ends with four schlubs standing up against an interdimensional demon and a giant marshmallow man to stop the apocalypse.

Endlessly quotable, legitimately tense, never boring, "Ghostbusters" is as close to perfect as you can get.

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46 of the greatest ghost movies of all time

Of all the paranormal things that may pop up in scary films , ghosts have the power to be funny, family-friendly , scary, meaningful and deadly — sometimes all in the same film. And that makes watching any ghost picture a roller coaster ride of a different stripe than, say, serial killer movies .

"Ghost stories work best when the horror is subtle but chilling," says Bram Stoker Award-winning author James Chambers, co-editor (with Carol Gyzander) of the new ghost story anthology " Even in the Grave ." "To create the right mood for the viewer, ghost movies should hold back certain elements a prose story might include."

That's true for all of the great ghost movies we've lined up for you below. Because in the end, as most people who've claimed to see ghosts in real life understand, most spirits were once ... humans. Like us. That makes them relatable, even if they are dead, and even if they are kind of angry.

"Ghosts are an indication of what lies waiting for us after we pass away," says Bram Stoker-nominated author Gyzander. "Some may find the concept scary, while others can take reassurance from the idea that some element of ourselves or those we love will continue after death."

So turn on (or off!) all the lights and settle in with this list of fantastic phantasms from over the years, featuring new and old films, and ones reportedly based on true stories. Since some of these films are more funny than frightening, we've added in a Casper the Friendly Ghost-inspired rating system: One ghost (👻) means it's a Halloween movie is fit for the whole family ; Five means you'll want to hide under a sheet of your own.

'The Uninvited' (1944)

One of the highest-grossing films of its premiere year, "The Uninvited" is about a brother and sister who purchase a house in Cornwall and are soon surrounded by paranormal activity. With Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey, it's creepy in an old-school, non-CGI way that will still get under your skin.

Casper Rating: 👻👻👻

'The Ghost and Mrs. Muir' (1947)

So you move to a seaside house only to find there's a catch: the dead previous owner (a gruff but Rex Harrison-shaped seaman) doesn't want you there. Fortunately, you're headstrong enough to win over even the dead, and pretty soon the pair of you are collaborating on his memoirs so you can afford to buy the house and live happily ever after — if not together . At least, not for many, many years. Bonus: If you love the film, there's a TV series based on it that ran from 1968 to 70.

Casper Rating: 👻👻

'The Innocents' (1961)

Based on the 1898 Henry James novel "The Turn of the Screw," "The Innocents" focuses on a governess hired to watch over two children she decides are possessed ... and in a house that appears haunted. Deborah Kerr is a surprisingly excellent scream queen.

'The Haunting' (1963)

Another great based-on film that's frequently remade, "The Haunting" is based on Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House," which sets up a trope so familiar it almost feels cliche (now, at least): a group of people are invited by a paranormal investigator to spend a night in a haunted house. Mayhem and lots of scares ensue. But this one has the advantage of new (then, at least) technology: a wide angle lens used by director Robert Wise to create effectively creepy distortions.

'Kwaidan' (1964)

The switch from black-and-white scares to color somehow seems to ramp things up to yet another level. Beautifully photographed, this three-hour film presents four stories of people making major mistakes, or driven insane, or just in the wrong place. Japanese horror has always had a particularly sharp blade.

Casper Rating: 👻👻👻👻

'The Legend of Hell House' (1973)

Full of the overwrought acting and super-saturated visuals typical of horror movies from the 1970s, this classic ghost tale features a physicist, his wife and two mediums who dare to spend a night in a seriously haunted house where both guests and paranormal investigators have been dying for 50 years. This ghost isn't above ruining the whole house in an effort to expel invaders.

'Hasu (House)' (1977)

Don't be fooled by the totally-out-of-place theme song in the trailer, a cheery tune better suited for a 1970s sitcom than one of the trippiest, weirdest ghost films you're likely to stumble across. "Hasu" ("House" in English) is full of all kinds of strange effects (those fingers playing the piano!), hellbent cats and lots of blood. There are some off-kilter funny bits, too — but you decide how you feel about a gaggle of young women visiting a house that slowly devours them all.

'The Amityville Horror' (1979)

Few horror films have captured the zeitgeist of the moment the way "Amityville Horror" did. Based on the allegedly true experiences of a real suburban family, the tale focuses on how newlyweds with three children buy a house that one year earlier had been the site of a mass murder. It's over the top and yet incredibly creepy with the images of bleeding walls and pigs in windows.

'The Changeling' (1980)

The new resident (George C. Scott) of an old house discovers there's another being living there with him — the ghost of a child killed by his father and swapped out with another boy — but the mystery the specter raises tell him will reach all the way into some of the highest levels of government before the secret comes out.

'The Shining' (1980)

Writing a novel is hard , people. That's why it totally makes sense for writers to go on isolated retreats. But Jack Torrance's (Jack Nicholson) stint at the Overlook Hotel might be too isolated. To the horror of his wife and psychic son, Jack becomes manipulated by the spirits who also live in the hotel. "The Shining" isn't just scary for its use of a Stephen King story and the menacing brows of Jack Nicholson (playing stunted author Jack Torrance): Director Stanley Kubrick's chilly style and jump-cut editing makes it a genuinely disturbing watch. Bonus: If you'd like to lighten the mood, check out this version of a "Shining" trailer , edited as if the film were family-friendly. It decidedly is not.

Casper Rating: 👻👻👻👻👻

'The Fog' (1980)

Multi-talented John Carpenter (who directed, co-wrote the script and even created the music for "The Fog") is fully in charge of the tale of an unusual, glowing fog that takes over a coastal Californian town and provides a portal for some pretty angry mariner ghosts who died in a shipwreck a century earlier. Bonus: Scream queens Jamie Lee Curtis and her mom Janet Leigh both star!

'Ghost Story'

Based on Peter Straub's novel, this tale is about four New England businessmen and friends who get together to tell ghost stories, but when the stories turn real for them, they have to confront their role in a woman's death years earlier. Bonus: Classic actors, together at last! The cast includes Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Melvyn Douglas, just for a start.

'Poltergeist' (1982)

"Poltergeist" is about a nice family who move into a nice house with a decidedly not nice history. Legend has it the house was built on a cemetery, and the buried residents aren't happy with being confined to the basement. Steven Spielberg wrote the movie and director Tobe Hooper is best known for “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre." You've been warned.

'Ghostbusters' (1984)

If you're seeing things in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? How about four guys who start their own business designed to capture and store ghosts — then have to deal with a bureaucracy that decides it's better to let them all loose? Yeah, that'll work. "Ghostbusters" (the original) is silly, a little scary and full of state-of-the-art special effects — for 1984, anyhow. Love for the franchise means there's an all-women "Ghostbusters" (2016) and a nostalgia-heavy "Ghostbusters: Afterlife " (2021) to keep you mired in the ectoplasm for a long time.

'House' (1985)

Roger's a troubled Vietnam Vet who's separated from his wife, whose son has vanished, and he just wants to write a book in a great big spooky old house — but the house has other plans, including a whole other world on the other side of the medicine cabinet. File this under the listing of "houses that tell you to get out but residents who refuse to leave," and watch as things go downhill from there.

'Beetlejuice' (1988)

Tim Burton turns the frighteners of the world into friendly, familiar specters. In this case, the ghosts aren't the puckish title character (Michael Keaton), but rather two recently-deceased homeowners (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) who don't want anyone moving into their former dream home, which they're busy haunting. Add in a new family of trendy out-of-towners (and one Goth daughter in Winona Ryder) and this is a fun, occasionally gross exercise in learning how ghosts and people can live in harmony.

'The Lady in White' (1988)

Yes, there are children at the center of this story, but "The Lady in White" might prove daunting for younger viewers. The story focuses on nine-year-old Frankie (Lukas Haas) who witnesses the ghostly apparition of a girl being murdered while he's locked in a cloakroom, and sets about not just befriending her ghost but solving the crime. There's a second ghost involved — the titular woman in white — who also lends a hand as the clues start drawing the mystery closer and closer to Frankie's home. A different take on the old ghost tale mystery, but one that does involve attacking and killing children so ... beware!

'Always' (1989)

The spectral figure in "Always" walks the fine line between a ghost and a guardian angel, suggesting they might be one and the same. A reckless aerial firefighter (Richard Dreyfuss) is killed while saving a compatriot and told in the afterlife by a spirit (Audrey Hepburn) that it's now his job to help guide the living. He interprets this as haunting his lost love Dorinda (Holly Hunter). As such, he tries to get in the middle of her grieving process, but ultimately learns how to let her go so she can heal. Directed by Steven Spielberg, "Always" is a story about grief and mourning, and is about as sweet a ghost story as you could expect.

Casper Rating: 👻

'Ghostbusters II' (1989)

Of course, there's no reproducing the original. But by setting the original "Ghostbusters" quartet on the wrong foot — they've gone out of business and are reduced to playing kids' birthday parties to make bank — we get to see them as underdogs once again, and just in time as a river of ectoplasm and loads of new ghosts spurs the team back into action. Plus, there's a walking Statue of Liberty!

'Ghost' (1990)

Ghosts continue to have a romantic, guiding touch in the classic Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore four-hankie tale. Sam Wheat (Swayze) gets shot by a mugger, leaving his girlfriend, Molly (Demi Moore), and a reluctant medium (Whoopi Goldberg) to figure out that it was no random killing after all. Meanwhile, the ghostly Sam figures out how to connect to the earthly plane to let Molly know that yes, he's keeping an eye out for her ... and possibly even saving her life. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had someone to make pottery with.

'The Frighteners' (1996)

Don't let the title spook you. "The Frighteners" is a horror comedy about a man who uses the ability to commune with the dead to make some money. His supernatural schemes get serious when the ghost of a serial killer gets back to his old ways, despite being "on the other side," and only Frank (Michael J. Fox) can stop him.

'The Sixth Sense' (1999)

The kid (Haley Joel Osment) says he sees dead people, and only one psychologist (Bruce Willis) is able to help him figure out what he needs to do to fix, or understand, this particular talent. As with a lot of ghost-based stories, there's a hurdle to overcome in helping either the ghost or the living free themselves from the liminal space they exist in, but unlike in many there's a giant "gotcha" at the end which you probably already know is coming.

'Stir of Echoes' (1999)

Beware a ghost with an agenda and a blue-collar worker who's recently been hypnotized to be more "open" to the world around him. Kevin Bacon's a telephone lineman who goes under at a gathering, and returns to the waking world as an instrument for the deceased spirit of Samantha, who wants her death avenged.

'Sleepy Hollow' (1999)

In most tellings of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," things do not go well for one Ichabod Crane. But with Tim Burton directing, Crane (Johnny Depp) becomes an investigator considered radical for adhering to a scientific method, who comes to the small New York village to investigate a series of beheadings. The movie has definite scares and dark jumps, but it's not the same old story you might have grown up hearing told around a campfire.

'The Devil’s Backbone' (2001)

Made before "Pan's Labyrinth," this Guillermo Del Toro film is also set in the Spanish Civil War era and provides audiences with another kind of nightmare fuel. Adolescent Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at an orphanage that reportedly has a cache of hidden gold, and soon starts seeing specters from the school. Isolated from wartime and bedeviled by treasure hunters, Carlos and his friends find themselves in danger faster than you can say "ghosts!"

'The Others' (2001)

Grace (Nicole Kidman) is having a devil of a time: Not only is she living in an isolated house in post-WWII Jersey (near the UK, not New York), while caring for her two young kids who have photosensitivity and therefore can't go out in the sunlight, she's also having problems with unwelcome visitors. Strangers seem to be moving into her house. The piano plays on its own, and time feels very slippy. Is her house haunted? Yes, but not in the way she thinks.

'Spirited Away' (2001)

10-year-old Chihiro is supposed to move into a new neighborhood with her parents when she accidentally enters a world ruled by gods, witches and spirits, and sees her parents get turned into pigs. Chihiro must work at a magical bathhouse owned by a witch named Yubaba to free herself and her parents.

'The Ring' (2002)

The beauty of "The Ring" (an American remake of the 1998 Japanese film "Ring") is found in the premise's simplicity: Characters watch some weird found footage on a video tape, get a phone call letting them know they have a week to live, and then die. More interesting is the way Rachel (Naomi Watts) goes about "investigating" the phenomenon as if it's a puzzle that can be solved after her young son views the tape. Is the girl in the well a true ghost? Has she achieved some kind of demonic abilities? And can the "Ring" curse be defeated? All of those questions have elusive answers and disturbing consequences.

‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ (2003)

A teenage girl is released from a mental institution and sent home in this South Korean film, only to find it's much more horrific than she ever remembered back there — and that the family's dark secrets are not going to stay buried for long.

‘Corpse Bride’ (2005)

Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria (Emma Watson) are arranged to be married when he is dragged into the land of the dead by Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), who was murdered after finding love and eloping. Now, Victor must fight to get back to the land of the living in order to save Victoria from a marriage to the villainous Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant).

'The Orphanage' (2007)

This Spanish film has all the great hallmarks of a ghost story: prescient children, living in a home with a past (a former orphanage for handicapped children), and the kid suddenly developing new friends only he can see. You'll be scared even through the subtitles.

'Insidious' (2010)

If a film like "Always" (see above) walks the line between guardian angel and ghost, "Insidious" walks the line between ghost and demon. Within the movie's mythology, ghosts can cross over into the bodies of the living and then animate them. Full of jump scares, "Insidious" is a film about the wickedest type of angry spirits, who fixate on a young boy who dreams a little too well.

'The Woman In Black' (2012)

High Gothic style at its most bleak and melodramatic. "Woman in Black" is about a lawyer sent to Eel Marsh estate, a remote home whose owner has died. He's meant to gather papers and prepare the house for sale, but then people start dying, houses start burning down, children get creepier and fingers start pointing ... at him. The post-"Harry Potter" Daniel Radcliffe as the beleagured lawyer is a fantastic touch, too.

'Oculus' (2013)

"Oculus" continues the cinematic tradition of ghosts being dead yet super-powered beings who can do basically anything . In the movie, a sister (Karen Gillan) tries to exonerate her brother (Brenton Thwaites) for the deaths of their parents when they were small. The real culprit? A mirror that contains mind-controlling spirits. "Oculus" is a film that will make you question what you actually just saw.

'The Canal' (2014)

When a film archivist (Rupert Evans) comes upon very old found footage of a crime scene and murder, he quickly realizes there's a direct connection between the footage and the home he lives in. Meanwhile, his cheating wife turns up dead in a nearby canal, causing him to spiral obsessively with capturing the ghost he believes is connected to the footage and who lives in his home. Things just get darker, and ghostlier, from there.

'The Babadook' (2014)

Is "The Babadook" a ghost movie? Kind of, so long as you're willing to believe the titular monster, who starts manifesting in a single mother's home after a book also titled "The Babadook," arrives. Her son desperately wants her to read it aloud, and starts acting stranger and scarier with each passing day. But the startling ending may have you questioning whether ghosts, or monsters, can ever be removed entirely.

‘It Follows’ (2014)

So, remember how in "The Ring" you died seven days after watching a videotape? Well, I have bad news and I have terrible news. In "It Follows," an entity (which is both a shapeshifter and some sort of specter) is passed from person to person through sex, after which it follows you forever. The only way you can delay your doom is to have sex with someone else, and share the ... uh, love. Then it has to kill that person before it gets to you. Seriously, this is the worst dating service ever.

'Crimson Peak' (2015)

Guillermo Del Toro returns with another kind of ghost story, this one a classic Gothic romance about con artist siblings (Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain) who start out trying to steal Edith's (Mia Wasikowska) fortune to save their sinking fortunes and his floundering inventions, but end up on very different sides about how she should be handled. Ghosts, meanwhile, are a bit on the sidelines, yet critical to the plot: Not only does one warn Edith about the mansion, later in the game one proves critical to her escape from the house of horrors. Drenched in atmosphere and packed with a great cast, this one will give you the best kind of chills.

'Ghostbusters' (2016)

For some fans of the "Ghostbusters" franchise, the "something strange" in the neighborhood wasn't ghosts with this reboot — but the fact that the ladies were finally getting to kick some spectral butt. But ignore that and just dive right in: Kate McKinnon's eccentric, wild-eyed performance is worth the price of admission, and there's Chris Hemsworth as the eye-candy receptionist, so it surely has more than a ghost of a chance.

'We Go On' (2016)

A movie that reminds you to be careful what you wish for. Miles (Clark Freeman) is on a quest, offering $30,000 to anyone who can provide definitive proof of life after death. He gets a lot of pranks and hoaxes, but three lines of inquiry seem promising ... until he gets the answers he's been looking for, and then some. It's as much an emotional journey as one with spirits who have their own agendas, and will leave you feeling, well, haunted.

'A Ghost Story' (2017)

In the spare, meditative "A Ghost Story," time is a slippery device. The story is told both backward and forward: A man and a woman (only referred to as C and M, played by Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara) live in an ordinary house. There is a tragedy. The result: The one who dies sits up in the morgue beneath a sheet, and begins wandering. No one can see this ghost, but this ghost slowly finds a way to interact with the world ... and eventually come to peace. Some ghost stories leave you in tears of fright; this one might just make you grab tissues for another reason.

'Coco' (2017)

"Coco" is set during the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, during which spirits are said to cross over and visit the living. Celebrants hold celebrations and picnics to be with the departed. In "Coco," there's trouble when a young living boy accidentally crosses over with the dead and has to figure out how to return to the living. Though it's a family-friendly Pixar movie, there are still some scary spirits he'll have to evade, and old family secrets he'll have to unearth.

'Doctor Sleep' (2019)

OK, we're not sure we're buying that the ghost-sensitive, finger-wagging kid from "The Shining" grew up to be Ewan McGregor, but if you can get past that bit of casting, "Doctor Sleep" proves that the haunting of Dan Torrance didn't end when he and his mother escaped the Overlook hotel way back when. In this tale, he's guided by the spirit of Dick Halloran to contain the Overlook's ghosts in a special box.

'His House' (2020)

It seems particularly cruel to subject South Sudanese refugees who've escaped a living hell to a second horrifying passage by placing them into a haunted house in the U.K., where they're seeking asylum, but this is the plot of "His House." There's clearly some kind of angry spirit living in the shabby home the couple (played by Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu) has been given, but in time things become clearer: There are ghosts who have traveled along with the couple. It just goes to show that starting over isn't so easy when the baggage is spiritual.

'Candyman' (2021)

The spirit of a wrongly-accused homeless man who'd been accused of tampering with candy is far from a sweet soul. All you have to do to summon him is say his name three times in front of a mirror ... and he'll wreak some serious vengeance on you. Naturally, anyone who hears of this urban legend seems bound to taunt it in front of a mirror, which leads to a lot of bodies, a very important bee, and the transformation of a new member of Candyman's "hive." You're better off calling out for Beetlejuice.

'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' (2021)

Alas, one of the "Ghostbusters" has passed on (and in real life, too; RIP Harold Ramis), but that doesn't mean he can't be an integral part of a new look at the franchise that deals in ghostly matters. The descendents of Egon's (Ramis) pick up the story far from New York City, with some familiar enemies, some new friends (a kid who makes podcasts called ... Podcast) and a reuniting of the old gang, including a spectral Egon. Bonus: Director Jason Reitman isn't just the son of original "Ghostbusters" director Ivan Reitman, he's the kid who, in "Ghostbusters II," told Dan Aykroyd's Ray that the Ghostbusters were "full of crap."

Randee Dawn (she/her) is an entertainment journalist and author based in Brooklyn. In addition to writing for TODAY.com, Variety and The Los Angeles Times, her debut novel, Tune in Tomorrow , about a reality TV show run by mythic creatures, published in 2022. She's also the co-author of The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion . When not interviewing the stars or dabbling in speculative fiction, she dreams of the next place she can travel to, or cuddles her Westie. More at RandeeDawn.com .

33 Best Ghost Movies That Seriously Deliver on the Thrills

Have the Ghostbusters on speed-dial.

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Scroll through for some of the most unnerving supernatural films and thrillers on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and beyond. Catch up on the original Candyman before Nia DaCosta's highly anticipated remake arrives to terrify you, or bask in a slow-burn like The Others . Recent movies like Netflix's His House mix social issues with ghost stories. But, of course, the most haunting ghost movies of all are the ones supposedly based on true stories, like the classic paranormal movie Poltergeist . And, if you prefer your frights a little more PG, we have great movies for kids starring "nice" ghosts, like Casper, and some comedies for you, too.

The Changeling

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A haunted house tale from the ‘80s, The Changeling doesn’t feel like it’s from the ‘80s. Sure, there is no high definition or modern A-list cast, but the film’s suspense transcends the decades and remains one of the spookiest specter films ever made. It’s about a composer who hunkers down in a sprawling rental to grieve the sudden loss of his wife and daughter. And—you guessed it—he’s not alone.

A Tale of Two Sisters

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Not even a viewing in broad daylight can save you from the terror the film’s helmer, Jee-woon Kim, has in store. About a pair of siblings who are tormented by a long-haired shadow figure, A Tale of Two Sisters is a chilling Korean folk tale with tonal shifts and jumps scares so jarring you may just rethink the dark corners of your household. Should you prefer the American version, The Uninvited , starring Emily Brown and Arielle Kebbel, is based on the Korean original.

Under the Shadow

Under the Shadow is a brilliant film that came and went in 2016 with hardly a whisper. A critical and festival hit, British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari’s supernatural thriller arms itself with traditional genre scares but also a social subtext that depicts war-torn Tehran in the 1980s. Narges Rashidi stars as Shideh, a mother dodging evil from all directions: missiles, enforcers, and a possibly malevolent spirit.

The Devil’s Backbone

You’ve probably seen The Shape of Water . And you may have heard of Pan’s Labyrinth . But before monster maestro Guillermo del Toro’s elevated fantasies grabbed the attention of the Academy Awards, he wrote and directed an incredible, mournful Spanish-language ghost tale set during the Spanish Civil War. At its backbone: a dead little boy named Santi who wanders a war-torn orphanage.

Candyman is a terrifying movie wrapped up in the United States's own gruesome history. Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is researching urban legends, and there's none more potent than the serial killer Candyman, whose origin story has roots in slavery and racial injustice. Tony Todd plays an unforgettable villain who is set on repeating that which was done to him. Catch up on the original before watching Nia DaCosta's Candyman remake, out this year.

The Sixth Sense

Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment explore each other’s psyches in M. Night Shyamalan’s genre-blending film about an eight year old who sees dead people and the sullen child psychologist trying to help him understand why. A permanent fixture in pop culture, the film not only received six Oscar nominations, but it remains as one of the greatest twist-ending films of all time.

The Conjuring

Based on the actual paranormal investigations of real-life ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren , The Conjuring is the first installment in The Conjuring Universe and also marks the introduction to that nefarious pigtailed doll over there. It stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as the famed occult inspectors, as they head to a Rhode Island farmhouse to help the Perron family rid their home of evil spirits.

Based on the Japanese horror original, Ringu , filmmaker Gore Verbinski’s psychological nightmare stars Naomi Watts as a reporter investigating a string of teen murders. On the surface, sure, it’s a movie about a videotape that kills those who watch it. In seven days. As we all know. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find it’s a truly unsettling odyssey through all the ways a mother’s love—and hate—can affect a child.

Ouija: Origina of Evil

An origin story to the 2014 film Ouija , Mike Flanagan’s prequel is a sneaky-good movie that stands on its own. Set in late-1960s Los Angeles, Ouija: Origin of Evil spies on a widowed mother (Elizabeth Reaser) who runs a faux séance business with her young daughters, and their latest stunt—conjuring spirits with the help of an occult lettered board—proves to be a B-I-G mistake.

Nicole Kidman carries this period ghost thriller about a family who are haunted by the uninvited on her perfectly postured shoulders. She plays Grace, a manic mother of two who may or may not be going mad. Its narrative can be nicked for being unoriginal, as it definitely borrows thrills from 1961’s The Innocents . But the directors’ atmospheric touches and Kidman’s spiraling performance set this one at the top of the genre heap.

Adapted from a Stephen King short story, 1408 , is an absorbing thriller starring a fantastic John Cusack as a paranormal cynic who makes a living debunking ghost stories and hauntings. His latest gig: proving the Dolphin Hotel is merely a place to rest one’s head and not the infamous hotbed for paranormal activity its reputation says it is. We’re sure you can guess how things work out for our non-believing protagonist.

Looking for a family-friendly ghost movie? Casper was designed for watching after a long trick-or-treating session. As the daughter of a "ghost therapist," someone who communes with spirits for a living, Kathleen 'Kat' Harvey (Christina Ricci) is used to things that go bump in the night. But she'd never had a ghostly friend—before Casper, that is.

The Shining

All work and no play gives Jack Torrance a crazy case of cabin fever. A Stanley Kubrick classic that tops every critic’s best-of horror list, The Shining is the story of one man’s methodical descent into madness as he and his family care for a secluded mountain resort that’s crawling with horrific and wrathful ghosts. If you’re looking to make it a double feature, queue up Room 237 , a conspiracy theorist’s dream documentary that analyzes each dark corner and blood-soaked hallway of the Overlook.

Fans of the Netflix spine-tingler The Haunting of Hill House will understand the kind of mental workout it takes to endure a Mike Flanagan production. They will also know just how rewarding the psychological marathon can be. In Oculus , one of Flanagan’s earlier projects, a sister attempts to clear her brother of murder by proving the crime was done by a phenomenon that comes in evil mirror form. We know, but just go with it; trust us, this effective bare-bones film is one you’ll want to reflect on (sorry).

So Patrick Swayze as the ghost of Sam Wheat isn’t really all that scary. But the way he was killed is. After date night, Sam and girlfriend Molly, played by Demi Moore , brave the New York City streets on foot, only to be met with the short barrel of a mugger’s pistol. It’s a film that cleaned up during the 1991 awards season , winning two Oscars—one of which went to Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown, the psychic Sam enlists to help solve his own murder.

The Innocents

There are some pretty creepy things going down in this black-and-white haunted house film based on the Henry James 1898 Gothic ghost novella, The Turning of the Screw . Deborah Kerr takes the lead as Miss Giddens, a governess who slowly begins to believe the country estate where the children live is haunted by a pair of evil spirits: the former valet and the woman he seduced.

Beetlejuice

Tim Burton’s stylized cult classic from 1988 mixes comedy, fantasy, and the afterlife to achieve the perfect gateway film to the horror genre: It’s not too scary, but it still brings the thrills. Michael Keaton stars as the title “bio-exorcist” who’s hired by a ghost couple to remove a family from their home. And you can bet that by the time Halloween creeps into town, we'll have watched this movie more times than it takes to summon its title character.

One disembodied groan and we’re bolting. Which is exactly what the Lambert family should be doing. Alas, Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson who play Mom and Dad stick with their new mortgage while also trying to keep their young comatose son away from the clutches of the evil spirits inhabiting another dimension called The Further. Don’t underestimate the unnerving power of super-scary makeup and a wicked wig, in this film directed by Saw creator James Wan.

What Lies Beneath

Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford play a seemingly happy couple who live in a massive lakeside dream house in Vermont that’s haunted not only by the spirit of a former college student, but also by the sins of their past. An easy watch from the start, Robert Zemeckis’s slow-burning ode to Hitchcock conjures references to several of the master of suspense’s classics including Rear Window , Psycho , and Spellbound .

Tales of grief often lend themselves to the horror genre. You have Hereditary , a contemporary take on possession, as well as The Changeling , Don’t Look Now , and others on this very list. But Lake Mungo , which indeed uses the aftermath of tragedy as its springboard into terror, is different. Executed as a pseudo-documentary, this Australian fright film plays out over interviews with a family who are mourning the death of their 16-year-old daughter while also fearing the presence that has now taken up residence in her room. Um, chills.

Headshot of DeAnna Janes

DeAnna Janes is a freelance writer and editor for a number of sites, including Harper’s BAZAAR, Tasting Table, Fast Company and Brit + Co, and is a passionate supporter of animal causes, copy savant, movie dork and reckless connoisseur of all holidays. A native Texan living in NYC since 2005, Janes has a degree in journalism from Texas A&M and  got her start in media at US Weekly before moving on to O Magazine, and eventually becoming the entertainment editor of the once-loved, now-shuttered DailyCandy. She’s based on the Upper West Side.

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The Devil’s Backbone.

Scariest ghosts in cinema – ranked!

From unexplained bumps in the night to creepy children and things without faces, here are some of film’s most terrifying spectres

20. Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The jokey sequels may have turned Freddy into a lovable goof, but in Wes Craven’s original supernatural slasher the razor-gloved ghost in a striped jersey who kills teenagers in their dreams is still a genuinely frightening bogeyman.

19. Daniel Robitaille in Candyman (1992)

With Nia DaCosta’s reworking stuck in Rona-limbo , it’s worth revisiting Bernard Rose’s transposition of Clive Barker’s short story from Liverpool to a Chicago public housing project. Looking into the bathroom mirror and saying “Candyman” five times will summon the hook-handed ghost of a black artist (Tony Todd) murdered by a lynch mob. Go on and say it, I dare you.

18. Emeric Belasco in The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Size does matter. If ever a ghost failed to live up to its reputation it’s the malevolent entity at the centre of John Hough’s screening of Richard Matheson’s haunted house tale (played by an uncredited Michael Gough) who has to delegate his havoc-wreaking to a black cat and unsecured chapel furniture. He still manages to rack up a body count.

17. Mitsuko Kawai in Dark Water (2002)

The damp stain on the ceiling is arguably scarier than the ghost of the little girl in the yellow raincoat, particularly when you learn why she is a ghost in the first place. But a sad backstory is no excuse for leaving the taps running and trying to drown living children in their bathtubs.

16. Delbert Grady in The Shining (1980)

There’s stiff competition from the scary twins and the woman in Room 237 of the uber-haunted Overlook hotel, but the alarming way the ex-caretaker’s ingratiating stain-sponging in the gentlemen’s lavatories slides into racist invective and brutal understatement (“I corrected them, sir”) gives Delbert the edge.

15. Yone and Shige in Kuroneko (1968)

A woman and her daughter-in-law, killed by marauding samurai, are reincarnated as feline spirits who seek revenge by tearing out the throats of random warriors. Hard not to have some sympathy for these two, but the eerie bamboo forests and somersaulting ghosts in Kaneto Shindô’s kaibyo (a subgenre of stories featuring cat demons) are reminders that no one depicts the supernatural quite as beautifully as the Japanese.

14. Tomás in The Orphanage (2007)

Tip: avoid games of hide and seek in big old orphanages, especially when your seven-year-old son claims to have made friends with a little boy with a sack over his head. The Spanish film-maker JA Bayona combines the terrifying and the tragic into a sad, scary fable with a heartbreaking ending, anchored by a brilliant performance from Belén Rueda as the haunted mother.

13. Mary Meredith in The Uninvited (1944)

For sale at a suspiciously low price: big old mansion on a Cornish clifftop. Liabilities include inexplicable draughts, nocturnal sobbing and the hovering phantom at the top of the stairs. This super old-school yarn has a lovely score by Victor Young (the song Stella by Starlight became a jazz standard ), some clever twists and a haunting performance by Gail Russell as the girl whose genealogy holds the key to the mystery.

12. Mrs Mills and Mr Tuttle in The Others (2001)

Spanish genre film-makers do it again with Alejandro Amenábar’s haunted house mystery that turns on nicely ambiguous performances from Fionnula Flanagan and Eric Sykes as the servants who know more than they’re saying about the creepy goings-on menacing Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) and her children in their creaky old house in Jersey, circa 1945.

11. Santi in The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

The orphanage kitchen is haunted by a pasty-faced little boy spectre with an upwards-gushing head wound. Just because he has a tragic backstory (and ultimately gets a satisfying revenge on the film’s villain, albeit only after the latter has murdered nearly everybody else) doesn’t mean he won’t scare the bejeesus out of you in Guillermo del Toro’s achingly sad ghost story set during the Spanish civil war.

10. The girl under the sink in A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Can the ghost of their late mother protect troubled teenager Su-mi and her little sister from their evil stepmother? You may think you have guessed what’s going on in Kim Jee-woon’s psychochiller, but odds are this Grimm-like spin on an old Korean folktale will still pull the narrative rug out from under your feet. And omigod, what’s that under the kitchen sink?

9. Melissa Graps in Kill, Baby … Kill! (1966)

Forget the Grady twins from The Shining – the scariest little girl ghost is the one with long blond hair (she is actually played by a little boy) who keeps peering through windows and making Carpathian villagers impale themselves in this chiller by Italian horror maestro Mario Bava. She must have made an impression on Federico Fellini, who “borrowed” her for Toby Dammit, his ultra-spooky segment of the 1968 Poe anthology, Spirits of the Dead.

8. Toshio in The Grudge (2004)

Hard to keep track of all the remakes and sequels in the Grudge franchise, but this is a rare case of Takashi Shimizu’s American reworking being even scarier than his own Japanese versions. Not so much a coherent story, more a series of spine-chilling set-pieces as doomed characters troop one by one into a cursed house in Tokyo, where they meet the obligatory scary broad with long black hair and Toshio, the small boy who miaows like a cat – and who somehow manages to commute all the way across town to a modern office block for the film’s most hair-raising episode.

7. The man in the lift in The Eye (2002)

The downside of a violinist’s sight-restoring cornea transplants is that they make her see scary ghosts in the Pang brothers’ Hong Kong/Singaporean ocular horror. And none scarier than the old man in the lift. She doesn’t need to turn around to know he’s behind her, gliding ever closer as the lift moves upwards so very, very slowly. And part of his face is missing! Next time, take the stairs.

6. Sadako in Ring (1998)

You think it’s all over! Well, it is now that Sadako has crawled up from her well and out of the TV screen to frighten everyone to death. But what’s to stop her from breaching the fourth wall and emerging into your living room? If ever a ghost needed a haircut and a manicure, it’s this one.

5. The old lady in Black Sabbath (1963)

Mario Bava certainly knew how to shred your nerves. In A Drop of Water, the final segment of this horror anthology, a nurse makes the rookie mistake of stealing a diamond ring from the finger of a dead medium. And, of course, the corpse comes a-visiting to reclaim it. The spooky old lady makeup may be panto level but, with a few sickly coloured filters and masterly command of ambience, Bava elevates this apparition to the stuff of nightmares.

4. The stumbling woman in Pulse (2001)

Japanese creep-meister Kiyoshi Kurosawa reinterprets the ghost story for the computer age in a story about mysterious disappearances on a university campus. It is probably a metaphor for alienation in the modern world, but don’t let that put you off. And don’t expect to be spoon-fed with reassuring logic; do expect an atmosphere of mounting apocalyptic dread, people fading into shadows, a soundtrack full of ominous rumbling and – scariest of all – the ghost who stumbles.

3. Jennet Goss in The Woman in Black (1989)

For chills that go all the way down to your marrow, forget the Daniel Radcliffe version of Susan Hill’s novel and go for the TV adaptation with a screenplay by Nigel Kneale. If you thought you couldn’t be frightened by such hoary cliches as old dark houses, foggy marshes and black-clad figures looking vaguely malevolent in graveyards – think again. And brace yourself for what devotees invariably refer to, with a shudder, as “ that scene”.

2. Abigail Crain in The Haunting (1963)

Maybe it’s the dead heiress haunting the house in Robert Wise’s film, the first and best adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic ghost story or maybe the malignant force is the house itself – but this is a ghost so scary you don’t even need to see it to be frightened out of your wits. Never underestimate the primal fear of unexplained noises, hammering at the door, the sort of overelaborate wallpaper you really do not want to examine too closely – and the realisation that the person whose hand you thought you were holding is on the other side of the room.

Deborah Kerr in The Innocents.

1. Peter Quint and Miss Jessel in The Innocents (1961)

Are the ghosts real, or figments of the febrile imagination of the governess who sees dead servants peering through windows or lurking on the far side of the lake in a fair approximation of an early Black Sabbath album cover? It doesn’t matter, because either way they will chill your blood in the first and still the best adaptation of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. Directed by Jack Clayton, every frame of Freddie Francis’s deep-focus black-and-white cinematography seems designed to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

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The Best Horror Movies of 2021, Ranked by Tomatometer

A Quiet Place Part II became the first post-quarantine theatrical release to match pre-pandemic box office numbers. So it was through horror that we declared, yes, we still like seeing movies with the lights off with strangers! It’s entirely fitting audiences came back to theaters screaming: Experiencing scary movies in theaters is a communal release of terror and tension, something a lot of people could’ve used after 2020. With this guide, we’ll be listing every Fresh and Certified Fresh horror movie of 2021, like Quiet Place II and Fear Street . — Alex Vo

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Antlers (2021) 59%

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Willy's Wonderland (2021) 61%

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The 8th Night (2021) 63%

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The Manor (2021) 62%

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Wrong Turn (2021) 65%

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Army Of The Dead (2021) 67%

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Sound of Violence (2021) 65%

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The Deep House (2021) 74%

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Meander (2020) 79%

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Last Night in Soho (2021) 75%

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Malignant (2021) 77%

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Shadow in the Cloud (2020) 77%

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In The Earth (2021) 80%

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Blood Red Sky (2021) 81%

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Bloodthirsty (2020) 80%

' sborder=

The Columnist (2020) 80%

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The Feast (2021) 80%

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Caveat (2020) 81%

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Boys from County Hell (2020) 83%

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Fear Street Part One: 1994 (2021) 84%

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The Power (2021) 84%

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Gaia (2021) 85%

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Come True (2020) 85%

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Jakob's Wife (2021) 85%

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Werewolves Within (2021) 86%

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Lamb (2021) 86%

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Nightbooks (2021) 88%

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The Djinn (2021) 86%

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The Night House (2020) 88%

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Titane (2021) 90%

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Violation (2020) 88%

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Fear Street Part Two: 1978 (2021) 87%

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Till Death (2021) 90%

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Censor (2021) 89%

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The Stylist (2020) 90%

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The Queen of Black Magic (2020) 90%

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Fear Street Part Three: 1666 (2021) 88%

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A Quiet Place Part II (2021) 91%

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Coming Home in the Dark (2021) 92%

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PG: Psycho Goreman (2020) 92%

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Lucky (2020) 93%

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Slaxx (2020) 96%

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The Amusement Park (1973) 96%

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The Boy Behind the Door (2020) 97%

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My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To (2020) 98%

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44+ Best Ghost Movies Ever Made

A list of the greatest ghost movies from the dawn of sound cinema to present day.

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

Table of Contents

Ghost movies and folklore exist in all cultures. Every society has some kind of belief in souls living on after death. For instance, scholar Paul Patterson observes how writing about ghosts from Ancient Rome have similar themes and motifs as they do in modern Hollywood cinema today.

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

Ghost movies are steeped in the horror genre. However, films about ghosts are virtually made in every single genre from arthouse to comedy to romance, to even beloved family films.

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

Old Ghost Movies

The ghost breakers (1940).

The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Comedic legend Bob Hope and legendary screen siren Paulette Goddard team together in a ghost comedy that stars Hope as a radio announcer who seeks to escape false murder changes in New York but winds up stranded on a zombie-filled island. Goddard stars as a beautiful young woman who’s just inherited a haunted mansion on the island, and Hope seeks to win her affection by helping her slay whatever evil spirits infest the building. Thirteen years after its release, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin starred in a 1953 remake called Scared Stiff.  

The Uninvited (1944)

The Uninvited (1944)

A composer and his sister can’t understand why they can’t purchase a gorgeous seacoast mansion until they realize it’s haunted. This is one of the earliest ghost story movies and it still holds up in the modern era as a creepy and uncanny movie that is the apex of Gothic cinema and serious haunted house movies . Apparitions, possession, and spooky voices run amok here. Famous director Martin Scorsese says it is one of the scariest films of all time. By modern standards, though, it probably won’t cripple any viewer with a fear beyond belief. The Chicago Reader calls it “An archetypal 40s ghost story, ambitiously decked out in high studio finery, with billowing curtains and other kinds of hyperromantic kitsch.”

The striking absence of horrific ghost films during the Second World War and its aftermath is attributable to the need for the presentation of a positive afterlife, visible through the cycle of comic and romantic films about ghosts and angels that has been retrospectively dubbed ‘film blanc’. Murray Leeder, Horror Film

The House on Haunted Hill (1959)

The House on Haunted Hill (1959)

An eccentric millionaire (horror legend Vincent Price) offers five people $10,000 if they can last a full night in a haunted house as a way to test the paranormal activity happening there. Famous exploitation director William Castle used a gimmick for the film called “Emergo” in which a lighted plastic skeleton on a wire would swoop above the audience. The Emergo skeleton was mothballed after mischievous boys in several theaters realized how fun it was to pelt it with their slingshots. In a negative review, T he New York Times says “Chandeliers crash, human heads casually turn up in table boxes, a couple of cackling ghosts scoot around (on roller skates, apparently), and downstairs in the cellar a pool of acid yawns invitingly.”

The Innocents (1961)

The Innocents (1961)

With a screenplay adapted by William Archibald and Truman Capote, this British horror movie tells the paranormal tale of an estate haunted by ghosts. Deborah Kerr shines as a sexually frustrated governess who slowly realizes that the house and the grounds around it are haunted. The Village Voice suggested that The Innocents may be “the finest, smartest, most visually savvy horror film ever made by a big studio” and that Kerr may have delivered “the most unforgettable performance by a British actress in its decade.”

The film is also a favorite of director Martin Scorsese who has said, “This Jack Clayton adaptation of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ is one of the rare pictures that does justice to Henry James. It’s beautifully crafted and acted, immaculately shot (by Freddie Francis), and very scary.”

The Spirit is Willing (1967)

The Spirit is Willing (1967)

Directed by low-budget maestro William Castle and based on the novel The Visitors by Nathaniel Benchley, this film stars TV legend Sid Caesar alongside Vera Miles as a couple who originally suspect that their son is behind a series of disturbing occurrences at their seaside cabin in England. The reality, however, is that a trio of ghosts, furious that these three human intruders had disrupted their calm and peaceful residence. When the humans leave, the ghosts up the ante by doing things such as sinking two boats that belong to the couple’s uncle.

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Are there such things as real ghosts? That is the paranormal question that propels the journey of four people as they are called to spend a weekend in a haunted house together and either prove or disprove the presence of a supernatural entity. The ghost that haunts the house is its former owner, Emeric “Roaring Giant” Belasco, a millionaire and depraved killer. But it’s not only haunted by Belasco—it’s also filled with the tormented, ghostly souls of Belasco’s countless victims.

The Legacy (1978)

The Legacy (1978)

Combining such classic horror-movie tropes such as Satanism, spontaneous combustion, shapeshifting, and “the reveal,” The Legacy tells the story of an American couple who visit England and accidentally find themselves at a massive mansion where several rich and famous individuals have been invited by the owners to determine the mansion’s fate. Karma and reincarnation are major themes in the film. According to TV Guide , “The gore factor is surprisingly high, however, so fans of Grand Guignol may want to watch the various burnings, drownings, and impalements.”

New Ghost Movies

Witchtrap (1989).

Witchtrap (1989)

Looking for an over the top and campy 80s movie ? Witchtrap, also released under the title The Presence, might do the trick. As so many haunted-house horror movies do, it starts with a group of people heading to a haunted bed and breakfast to try to figure out if there are actual ghosts in the world. These paranormal investigators discover there are ghosts, but as the movie does not make much sense, is the ghost actually a warlock, a male witch and not really a ghost? But they still call it a ghost, or an evil spirit; eh, well, it’s amusing in that cheesy sort of way.

Ghost (1990)

Ghost (1990)

Is this a romantic comedy? Is this a supernatural thriller? Or is this a ghost movie? The early 90s flick is one of the most beloved and best cross-genre movies ever made. It grossed over a half-billion dollars on a measly budget of $22 million, won Oscars for Best Supporting Actress (Whoopi Goldberg) and Best Original Screenplay. Patrick Swayze stars as a young man who was murdered, but whose ghost lingers to warn his lover (Demi Moore) that she is in danger. In Newsweek , David Ansen called the film “a zippy pastiche that somehow manages to seem fresh even though it’s built entirely out of borrowed parts.”

Casper (1995)

Casper (1995)

Casper was a family-friendly movie, but captured a much larger audience and became a ghost and haunted house movie beloved by people of all ages. What was it about this narrative that made it so special? Perhaps it was the symbolism within the story: a ghost banished from the world, but a friendly ghost that had no evil spirits in his body and just a desire to connect on the the most human and kind level with the living, yet he couldn’t. In so many ways, we as humans feel like Casper: disconnected, ghostlike, and longing for a connection that always seems denied to us. That is the appeal of Casper, and the fact that it has a happy ending gives it that Disney-feel-good notion that makes it a true family classic.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Bruce Willis stars as Malcolm Crowe, a Philadelphia child psychologist who attempts to help Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a young boy that Crowe thinks is mentally disturbed but is actually able to see ghosts walking around. Roger Ebert said that the movie “has a kind of calm, sneaky self-confidence that allows it to take us down a strange path, intriguingly.”

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

Director Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece was originally released in Spanish as El Espinazo Del Diablo. It is set in 1939 as the Spanish Civil War is winding to a close and the fascists are winning. A 12-year-old boy named Carlos arrives at a boys’ orphanage after his father dies. He discovers that the place is haunted and that the ghosts will help the boys if they aid in their fight against the fascists. Roger Ebert praised the film: “Ghosts are more interesting when they have their reasons. They should have unfinished affairs of the heart or soul. The Devil’s Backbone, a mournful and beautiful new ghost story by Guillermo del Toro, understands that most ghosts are sad, and are attempting not to frighten us but to urgently communicate something that must be known so that they can rest.”

The Others (2001)

The Others (2001)

This supernatural psychological horror film is a period drama set in 1945 Europe. Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who lives in a dreary and dusty old family house with her two children, both of whom are afflicted with a very rare actual disease (Xeroderma Pigmentosum), which makes them intensely sensitive to sunlight. Over time, the woman finds good reason to suspect that the house is haunted. Calling the film “dark and brooding,” Roger Ebert says “It’s not a freak show but a waiting game, in which an atmosphere of dread slowly envelops the characters—too slowly.”

Ghost Ship (2002)

Ghost Ship (2002)

Way up in the frigid northern climes of the Bering Sea, a ship’s crew finds the remains of a passenger ship that disappeared in 1962. To their dismay, they discover that the ship is haunted. In a mixed review, Roger Ebert says “It breaks no new ground as horror movies go, but it does introduce an intriguing location, and it’s well made technically. It’s better than you expect but not as good as you hope.”

Fragile: A Ghost Story (2005)

Fragile: A Ghost Story (2005)

Sarah, a nurse, starts to notice a strange trend in the kids in the children’s hospital. The kids seem to detect an evil spirit of a girl name Charlotte, a young girl that is a vengeful ghost. It turns out that Charlotte is a child who died at the hospital ages ago and seeks to wreak vengeance by injuring and killing the hospital’s current inhabitants. The film was a British-Spanish collaboration and was released in Spanish with the original title Frágiles.

1408 (2007)

1408 (2007)

Based on a 1999 Stephen King short story, this film stars John Cusack as an author whose specialty is investigating haunted houses. The film’s title refers to room #1408 in a New York City hotel—where over the past century no one has survived longer than an hour and more than 50 people have been killed. Undaunted, Cusack’s character elects to check in to room #1408 anyway. The Boston Phoenix compared 1408 to a much better-known horror film: “ The Shining gets squeezed into the ‘evil’ room of the title in a posh New York hotel — just a notch below the Waldorf Astoria — where some 50 people have perished.”

Twixt (2013)

Twixt (2013)

This is a classic ghost story and often forgotten/obscure ghost movie. This review explains the movie well:

It’s like a Tim Burton/Wes Anderson movie by FFC with Val Kilmer! If that sounds weird it’s because it is, but all the low reviews are just ridiculous. Light in tone but surprisingly dark and occasionally quite affecting this is a very well done film. If you like dark fairy tales and a dreamlike atmosphere then you’ll probably like this. Some scenes of violence that are pretty shocking but overall a really fun time.

The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black (2012)

Daniel Radcliffe stars as a Victorian-era lawyer who visits a remote haunted mansion in northern England in a quest for the papers of a recently deceased female occupant, only to realize that her ghost is mourning her own dead child by murdering local children. Roger Ebert wrote: “Not since young Hutter arrived at Orlok’s castle in Nosferatu has a journey to a dreaded house been more fearsome than the one in The Woman in Black. “

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring (2013)

Based on the real-life story of the Perron family—who, because of Rhode Island law, were not informed that the house they were buying had a sordid history involving multiple suicides and multiple murders— The Conjuring also conjures the real-life story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were called in to determine was was wrong at the haunted Perron farmhouse in 1973 and 1974. The Warrens were also the couple who investigated the murders/hauntings at a house in Long Island that later formed the basis of the Amityville Horror franchise. Giving the film only two stars out of five, the Austin Chronicle says: “ The Conjuring uses every parlor trick imaginable to scare up a scream: deafening door-slams, ghostly apparitions, demonic cackling, levitating chairs. The seen-it-all-before elements of this supernatural thriller directed by the filmmaker who gave us Saw , however, are more hoary than horrific. It might as well be retitled The Amityville Exorcist .”

A Ghost Story (2017)

A Ghost Story (2017)

While this ghost movie does have a few jump scares, it is by no means a horror movie. Rather, it is a slow-burn philosophical study of loss, love, death, and grief. Like a Terrence Malick film, it makes you think and ask questions more than it follows a strict narrative structure, making it one of the more surreal ghost films on the list.

Ghost Stories (2017)

Ghost Stories (2017)

A man who has based his entire career on “exposing” psychics—whom he claims are all frauds—is invited to investigate three strange ghost apparitions and finds, to his horror, that he can’t explain them away with reason and sarcasm. RogerEbert.com gave the film a glowing review: “It’s the sound of a creaking door, footsteps when no one else is home, the sudden drop of temperature in the center of a room—these are ghost story elements that will always be timeless, and it’s so refreshing to see a modern horror movie that knows how to use them as well as ‘Ghost Stories.’”

Paranormal Investigation (2018)

Paranormal Investigation (2018)

Using found footage in the grand horror tradition of REC, Paranormal Activity, and The Blair Witch Project, this film involves a man named Dylan who plays with a Ouija board and ends up possessed with an evil spirit. A ghost hunter named Andrei takes on the case and seeks to liberate Dylan from the ghost. The “found footage” involves that of ghosts who are captured by surveillance cameras that Andrei has placed throughout the haunted house. Regarding his approach to horror, Director Franck Phelizon told a French reporter: “I play with the fantasies of the public and with their infantile fears.”

The Night House (2020)

The Night House (2020)

After her husband’s unexpected death by suicide, Beth grieves in the beautiful lake home he built for them. Each night she is haunted not only by memories but by strange noises, a stereo that turns itself on and Owen’s presence calling to her from a beyond she happens to know for certain does not exist.

They Live in the Grey (2022)

Michelle Krusiec in They Live in the Grey (2022).

They Live in the Grey is a story of crippling grief told as a supernatural mystery. Claire (Michelle Krusiec), who has always lived in fear because of her ability to see ghosts, is a social worker assigned to investigate a case of child abuse. When she learns that the abuse may come from a supernatural source, Claire is forced to confront her own traumatic past. With solid scares and a bleak atmosphere, They Live in the Grey is a surprisingly effective horror movie.

We Have a Ghost (2023)

We Have a Ghost (2023)

Anthony Mackie and David Harbour star in We Have a Ghost , a fun family comedy released on Netflix. After moving into a new house, Frank (Mackie) and his family discover that it is haunted. The ghost haunting the house is mute, and Frank’s son Kevin (Jahi Winston) names the spirit Ernest (Harbour). The family soon becomes internet-famous after posting videos of Ernest, leading to a series of adventures.

More Ghost Movies

Beetlejuice (1988)

  • The Haunted Castle  (1896) from pioneering horror and special-effects master Georges Méliès comes this three-minute oddity featuring Satan conjuring a series of demons.
  • The Haunted Curiosity Shop  (1901) a two-minute film in which an old man encounters a string of skulls and girls and mummies.
  • The Haunted House  (1913) a woman offers to marry any man who can spend a night at her house with her; problem is, the house is too scary for any man alive.
  • The Phantom Carriage  (1921) a scythe-bearing driver of a carriage forces a man to confront his life’s mistakes on New Year’s Eve. This film was a huge influence on Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.
  • A Christmas Carol  (1938) a film rendering of Charles Dickens’s beloved holiday classic about Scrooge being haunted by the ghost of Christmas past.
  • Rebecca  (1941) is the first Hollywood production from Alfred Hitchcock and a black and white gothic masterpiece that won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Cinematography. It tells the story of a young woman who marries a man, only to discover his house is haunted by his ex-wife.
  • The Canterville Ghost  (1944) this comedy based on an Oscar Wilde story stars legendary actor Charles Laughton as the ghost.
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir  (1947) a widow who lives by the sea is pestered by the ghost of a dead sea captain.
  • Ugetsu  (1953) consistently referred to as one of the best films ever made, this Japanese ghost saga draws on stories from French writer Guy de Maupassant.
  • Carnival of Souls  (1962) this black-and-white low-budget horror classic features the lone survivor of a car crash attempting to navigate a world to which she may no longer belong.
  • The Haunting  (1963) a group of four people investigate a notoriously haunted house, but the house focuses its attention on one of its guests, Eleanor (Julie Harris).
  • Kwaidan  (1964) a beautiful Japanese horror classic that features four separate ghost stories.
  • Two Thousand Maniacs!  (1964) the slaughtered residents of a Southern town reemerge 100 years after the Civil War to kidnap and murder a group of six unsuspecting Northern intruders.
  • Burnt Offerings  (1976) Karen Black and Oliver Reed ooze sexual tension in this thriller set in a haunted house.
  • The Amityville Horror  (1979) the first in a staggering dozen and a half films based on the rumored haunting of a Long Island house that was the setting for the real-life murder of a family.
  • The Changeling (1980) stars Oscar-winner George C. Scott who buys a creepy old mansion near Seattle to mourn the recent death of his wife and daughter, only to find himself in a haunted house.
  • The Shining (1980) stars Jack Nicholson as a man who slowly loses his mind after being tormented by an evil presence that haunts a remote Oregon hotel.
  • Poltergeist  (1982) Steven Spielberg brings the haunted house genre to a bland and boring California suburb.
  • Ghostbusters  (1984) this massively successful comedy franchise was launched with this 1984 tale of a group of paranormal investigators attempting to rid a Manhattan building of a ghost infestation.
  • Beetlejuice  (1988) Michael Keaton stars in this Tim Burton comedy about the “ghost with the most” who attempts to rid a house of an obnoxious family who are tormenting the ghosts of a deceased couple.
  • Candyman  (1992) to her horror, a student comes face-to-face with a legendary ghoul known as the Candyman, who materializes when you say his name five times in a mirror.
  • Stir of Echoes (1999) stars Kevin Bacon as a phone repairman whose son is able to speak with the dead.
  • Thirteen Ghosts (2001) involves a family who inherits a mansion from a dead uncle, only to realize it’s already inhabited by several hostile spirits.
  • The Ring (2002) involves a haunted videotape that kills anyone exactly one week after they view what’s on it.
  • The Grudge (2004) is an English-language remake of the original J-horror film about a house that curses anyone who enters it.
  • El Orfanato   (2007) was released in English as  The Orphanage  and focuses on a woman whose son begins communicating with an invisible friend after they move into a former orphanage for handicapped children. This is a scary movie and true horror fans will appreciate how haunting the sound design is.
  • Paranormal Activity   (2007) tells the story of a couple who move into a suburban home and sets up a surveillance camera to track the weird events that afflict the house.
  • Insidious   (2010) is a Canadian horror film about a couple’s young son who goes into a trance and becomes a vessel for evil spirits.
  • Sinister   (2012) is about a true-crime writer who finds clues about a serial killing in a box of old home movies from the 1960s.
  • Oculus  (2014) a girl attempts to prove that a haunted antique mirror was behind the decade-old murder of her parents.
  • Poltergeist (2015) is a remake of the classic Steven Spielberg movie.

Meet The Author

Chrissy Stockton

Chrissy is the co-founder of Creepy Catalog. She has over 10 years of experience writing about horror, a degree in philosophy and Reiki level II certification.

Chrissy Stockton

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

21 Mystery Horror Movies That Perfectly Blend Panic And Puzzles

David De La Riva

Put on your thinking cap and vote up the best mystery horror movies of all time!

Prepare to traverse to a world where nothing is quite as it seems, and just when everything seems as though it is all figured out, there is another nightmarish revelation to unfold. The world of mystery horror movies is a bizarre and rarely visited one, but one that is arguably the best that both genres have to offer. The pairing of puzzles, intrigue, and mystery with utterly haunting and nightmarish visuals and monsters on paper is a splendid pairing, and in execution is even better than any could have ever imagined. These fantastic murder mysteries often lead to some of the most revered, adored, and memorable films of either franchise as they both offer up something incredibly unique and never before seen to both the horror and mystery genres. 

From some of the earliest films that dared to blend mystery and horror together to create mesmerizing nightmares like Rear Window, Psycho, and The Wicker Man to more modern tellings of terror that use the two genres to tell more poignant and powerful tales of intrigue, suspense, paranoia, and terror in films like Get Out, Barbarian and virtually every entry in the Scream franchise, mystery horror movies both honor and elevate their respective genres while simultaneously pushing them forward, and daring to go where no film has ever gone before. With riveting tales that will blow minds, have jaws on the floor, and give audiences nightmares for weeks to come, these magnificent blends of genres showcase the absolute best the world of cinema has to offer. 

Vote up The Best Horror Mystery Movies of All Time, and don't forget to check out The Best Horror Movies of All Time and The Best Mystery Movies of All Time to see where these remarkable genre fusions rank up against some of the best of their respective genres.

Seven

A dark, twisted, and sadistic thriller from the warped mind of David Fincher, Se7en sends is all but guaranteed to send chills down the spine of any brave, or foolish, enough to watch as two detectives hunt down a serial killer whose murders are inspired by the seven deadly sins. With an all star cast headlined by Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey, the film uses disturbing and visceral upsetting imagery of gruesome death and destruction to keep audiences utterly enraptured by the story as the mystery unfolds. With one of the most unexpected and unforgettable climaxes in film history, Se7en manages to toe the line between good and evil, and is a masterpiece of the fusing genres.  

  • # 1 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 128 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 2 of 166 on The 160+ Scariest Psychological Thrillers

Saw

James Wan's sadistic, twisted, and brutal directorial debut introduces audiences to the masochistic world of Saw , a franchise synonymous with some of the most disturbing, disgusting, and horrifying death scenes in the history of cinema. Of course, while the Saw we know today is all of those things, surprisingly, the original is actually a tense, atmospheric, and engaging mystery horror film that keeps audiences on the edge of their toes while only flirting with the idea of dismemberment. Following two men trapped in a bathroom, the film brilliantly weaves storylines and elements to help audiences attempt to unravel this mystery, only to completely blindside them with one of the most intense and remarkable reveal in the modern horror era.

  • The Best Saw Characters in the Whole Franchise, Ranked
  • # 28 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 26 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

Shutter Island

Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese is widely viewed as one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema, and for the first 5 decades of his career, he never quite made a pure horror film, that is of course until 2010 when he released the revolutionary and jaw dropping Shutter Island . Fusing traditional horror elements with tones of a psychological thriller, the film transports audiences to an eerie and unnerving mental institution on a remote island, where a U.S. Marshal investigates the disappearance of a patient. As the investigator dives deeper into the asylum's mysteries, he begins to unravel a web of deception that ultimately threatens his own livelihood and sanity. With yet another sublime performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, Shutter Island is a haunting and truly terrifying tale filled with unexpected twists and turns, perfectly balancing intrigue and terror.

  • # 13 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 9 of 166 on The 160+ Scariest Psychological Thrillers
  • # 62 of 349 on The Best Movies Based On Books

The Others

A visionary and remarkable gothic tale from the mind of Alejandro Amenábar, The Others is one of the most refreshing and masterful ghost stories ever told, that feels all the more prominent today than when it originally released. Following a young woman who lives in an isolated mansion with her two light-sensitive children, the film becomes a paranoid thriller when this small and isolated family soon becomes convinced that their home is haunted. The film excels at building tension through its masterful use of cinematography and wicked sound design, straddling the line between psychological tension and paranormal dread. While the film seems fairly straight forward, the mystery that soon unfolds leads The Others to deliver an unforgettable twist ending that will leave audiences desperate to watch the film again as soon as the credits role.

  • # 339 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 43 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 101 of 324 on The Best Movies Of The 2000s

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shyamalan's groundbreaking supernatural horror thriller introduced the world to young Haley Joel Osment's unforgettable performance as a child who can see and communicate with the dead, and his partnership with child psychologist desperate to help him understand his gift. Like so many of the most beloved and classic mystery movies , the big twist of  The Sixth Sense is one of the most known and talked about instances in the history of cinema, but even with the reveal known, the film partners the supernatural elements with genuinely emotion and heart, helping establish the film as not only a superb mystery, but one of the best films of all time. 

  • Behind The Scenes, ‘The Sixth Sense’ Was A Weird Underdog Story
  • # 9 of 50 on The Biggest Movies Of The '90s, Ranked
  • # 5 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time

Scream

One of the most important and game changing horror films of all time, Wes Craven's genre-defining slasher, Scream , rejuvenated the horror world by cleverly combining classic stereotypical tropes of the genre with a self-aware and satirical tone that felt fresh, fun, and frightening. Following Sidney Prescott and her friends as they are terrorized by a sinister masked killer known as Ghostface, the film keeps audiences on their toes as they too are desperate to find out who is butchering the poor students of Woodsboro High School. While many find the film to be quite funny thanks to its satirical tone, don’t mistake Scream for a comedy, as this horrifying experience will undoubtedly stick with audiences for the rest of their lives, and the bombastic finale will have their jaws on the ground.

  • According To This Theory, Dewey Is The Serial Killer Mastermind In 'Scream'
  • # 25 of 105 on The 100+ Best Movies About High School
  • # 228 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

Get Out

A spectacular directorial debut by Jordan Peele, Get Out is a heart-pounding and mind-bending tale of race and discrimination that keeps the audience on its toes from start to finish. The film follows Chris, a young black man, who ventures to meet his white girlfriend's family for the first time, only to uncover a sinister secret involving the exploitation and manipulation of black people. Fusing elements of horror, mystery, and social commentary, this gripping masterfully skillfully weaves together an intricate tale of terror, while simultaneously providing one of the freshest and most unique mysteries to ever grace the silver screen.  

  • # 29 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 50 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 28 of 110 on The Best Intelligent Horror Movies

Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece, Psycho , is a revolutionary cinematic achievement that showcases a nail-biting tale of murder, deception, lust, and love, all while surrounding itself within the infamous Bates Motel and one of the most iconic and beloved horror villains of all time, Norman Bates. While many today know the groundbreaking twist of the film, back when Psycho released in 1960, the ideas and execution of the film were something that many audience members simply couldn’t handle, with many leaving the theater in utter shock and terror. Even today, with the twist becoming so engrained in pop culture, this beloved horror mystery stands as a true testament to masterful filmmaking, and lasting impact on cinema and storytelling.

  • # 20 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 353 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 7 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs

The chilling adaptation of Thomas Harris' beloved and iconic novel of the same name, The Silence of the Lambs sees a young FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, seeking the help of the infamous Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant but cannibalistic psychiatrist, to track down another serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. One of the most critically acclaimed horror films of all time highlighted by masterful performances by Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, the film sweeps  viewers away on a pulse pounding and spine-chilling journey through the complex minds of predator and prey. Introducing the world to Hannibal the Cannibal as we know him today, The Silence of the Lambs manages to perfectly blend just the right amount of unrelenting dread with a mind altering story.

  • Small But Tasty Details Fans Shared About Dr. Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lecter
  • Small Details And Trivia From 'The Silence Of The Lambs' That Left Us Hungry For More
  • # 2 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time

The Shining

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's chilling novel is arguably one of the biggest and best horror films of all time, and while it may be a staple that nearly every horror fan knows like the back of their hand, it still manages to stand the test of time and feel just as fresh and terrifying today as it was in 1980. Witnessing the descent of a father who took his family away to an isolated hotel for the winter, the mysteries continue to unpack even 40 years later as Kubrick’s masterful filmmaking, atmospheric cinematography, haunting score, and unforgettable performances help make the film become more and more layered with every viewing, leading The Shining creates a relentless sense of dread that lingers long after the credits roll. Its enigmatic nature leaves viewers constantly questioning what is real and what is imagined, cementing its status as a classic mystery horror film.

  • Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Shelley Duvall From 'The Shining'
  • The Dark History Of The Overlook Hotel From 'The Shining'
  • # 7 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time

Scream 6

The latest installment in the beloved slasher franchise that continues to perfect the satirical nature of its predecessors, Scream 6 continues the unrelenting terror and suspense of the series, this time however, taking it to the big apple. Set entirely in New York City, this installment sees the return of Sam and Tara Carpenter, dealing with the stress and trauma of the latest attacks while also trying to move on with their lives. Arguably the most brutal and violent entry in the franchise, Scream 6 lets all hell reign loose, delivering arguably the best entry in the franchise since it began.

  • # 360 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 42 of 77 on The Best Teen Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 123 of 161 on The Best Movie Sequels Ever Made

Deep Red

Dario Argento, the master of Giallo, released what is widely considered to be his masterpiece in 1975 with the superb and sadistic  Deep Red . Following a jazz pianist who witnesses a brutal murder and becomes embroiled in the hunt for the elusive and sadistic killer, the film is the pitch perfect blend of horror, mystery, and crime, something the Giallo subgenre would become synonymous with, as its portrayal of true crime is as grizzly as anything the horror genre has ever produced. With a striking visual style and a remarkably unsettling atmosphere,  Deep Red  constantly keeps the audience guessing as it unravels a labyrinthine plot filled with shocking surprises and gruesome twists and turns, showcasing Italian horror cinema as a force to be reckoned with in the years to follow.

  • # 310 of 424 on The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
  • # 11 of 12 on Slasher Movies You Didn't Realize Are Extremely Intelligent
  • # 16 of 16 on Movie Flops That Didn't Get Their Fair Shake Until The Longer Version Came Out

Rear Window

Rear Window

Alfred Hitchcock has garnered the nickname, “The Master of Suspese,” for good reason, as the revolutionary director manages to transform even the most mundane stories into spine chilling and pulse pounding feats of achievement, and no film may better showcase this point than Rear Window. A thrilling and claustrophobic masterpiece that follows a wheelchair-bound photographer who becomes convinced that one of his neighbors has committed murder, the film uses its circumstances to deliver unrelenting tension and dread, as audiences as just as stuck to the wheelchair as their protagonist. As the film delves deeper into the mystery, the tension steadily mounts, culminating in a hair-raising finale that is as timeless as anything from Hitchcock's esteemed catalog.

  • # 56 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 673 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 5 of 77 on The 75+ Best Whodunit Murder Mystery Movies

The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man

One of the most chilling folk horror tales of all time,  The Wicker Man is a devastating and heartbreaking tale of terror, intrigue, and mystery that revolves around the disappearance of a young girl on a remote Scottish island. With themes and tones of religion throughout, this mesmerizing movie does a fantastic job of lulling audiences into a false sense of security only to bombard them with one of the most captivating and genuinely revolting finales the horror world has ever seen.

  • # 166 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 118 of 199 on The Best Movies Of The '70s, Ranked
  • # 73 of 166 on The 160+ Scariest Psychological Thrillers

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby

Roman Polanski's spellbinding adaptation of Ira Levin's novel follows a young couple as they  move into a new apartment that isn’t quite what it seems to be all the while the titular Rosemary becomes pregnant with a child who is far more deadly than anyone could ever imagine. Rosemary's Baby expertly crafts a spine chilling tale of terror that fuses the occult, supernatural elements, and psychological torment to slowly make audiences feel as though they are losing their mind right along with their protagonist. 

  • # 53 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 628 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 38 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

Black Christmas

Black Christmas

Black Christmas is inarguably one of the most important horror movies to ever release, as it is not only a fantastic film, but helped revolutionize the genre by creating what we widely know as the slasher genre today. Preceding films like  Halloween and  Friday the 13th ,  Black Christmas set the blueprint for what the subgenre would become, by following a group of sorority sisters stalked by a mysterious killer during the holiday season. With its creepy atmosphere, unsettling phone calls, and an unknown protagonist, the film keeps viewers on edge throughout the film, and never truly gives the satisfaction of feeling safe after the credits roll.

  • # 200 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 152 of 199 on The Best Movies Of The '70s, Ranked
  • # 6 of 30 on The Best Movies On Shudder

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko

Richard Kelly's cult phenomenon, Donnie Darko , blends elements of science fiction, teen drama, and horror into a mind-bending mystery involving a troubled teenager who becomes plagued by terrifying visions of a sinister rabbit and thoughts of death. This cult classic showcases surreal events that will have audiences questioning what is real and what is a fantasy, not only in the film, but in their real lives. Even though Donnie Darko is arguably one of the biggest and best mystery horror movies of all time, its ability to wrap its tentacles around audiences, as well as offer up some truly mind numbing explanations, make this a must-see staple of the subgenres.

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Sleepaway Camp

Sleepaway Camp

Robert Hiltzik's cult classic slasher  Sleepaway Camp is a horror lovers dream, a wacky, bizarre, nightmarish horror film that manages to be campy and utterly terrifying, and showcases a genuinely shocking mystery. Following a group of teenagers at a summer camp, grisly murders begin to unfold, but the mystery of who is killing is the beating heart of this intense and wacky thriller. A cult classic for good reason, the film is by no means a masterpiece in the traditional sense, but is one of the most unique, groundbreaking, and revolutionary horror films to release in the 80s.

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Bodies Bodies Bodies

Bodies Bodies Bodies

A fantastic satirical horror-comedy in the vein of Scream,André Øvredal’s Bodies Bodies Bodies is a horror masterpiece for the Gen-Z and Millennial crowds that showcases the agony of dealing with the most tropey and ridiculous cast of characters ever put to screen. With nonstop laughs, chilling thrills, and a genuinely fantastic mystery that will leave audiences dumbfounded by the final moments of the film, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is arguably one of the best horror films of the decade, and a riveting whodunit that perfectly captures the heart and soul of horror and mystery.

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Barbarian

A modern day horror mystery classic, Barbarian is one of the most refreshing and unique horror films to release in ages, as its firm grasp on tension as well as terror help solidify it as one of the scariest movies of the 2020s. With three drastically different stories being told simultaneously, audiences will be on the edge of their seats as they watch this disturbing and revolting mystery unfold. The less known about the film the better, but Barbarian is a masterful entry in the “Air BnB” subgenre of horror films that is becoming increasingly popular, and features one of the most unique and utterly disturbing monsters horror has seen in decades, as well as a monster who isn’t quite what it seems.

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Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho

Edgar Wright's return to the horror genre in Last Night in Soho is a stylish and suspenseful thriller that follows a young fashion student transported back to the 1960s, where she encounters a mysterious woman whose dark past threatens to consume them both. Blending elements of psychological horror and time-travel mystery, the film weaves a captivating and enrapturing tale that is as gorgeous as any film released over the last decade, but still manages to have an eerie and creepy undertone of terror. Wright proves yet again that there is no director who can match his trademarked flair and style, while still delivering just enough scares to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

  • # 156 of 166 on The 160+ Scariest Psychological Thrillers
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TOP HORROR MOVIES: 2000-2024

A choice of 296 of the best horror movies released from 2000 to 2024. In reverse chronological order and purely subjective. Horror Links: Genre: Horror: Most Popular Horror Titles Genre: Horror: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Genre: Horror: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released 2000 to 2023 With At Least 5 Votes Horror Movies in the IMDb "Top 250": Most Popular IMDb "Top 250", Horror Feature Films Horror Movies in the IMDb "Top 1000": Most Popular IMDb "Top 1000", Horror Feature Films Horror Movies for 2018: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2018 Horror Movies for 2019: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2019 Horror Movies for 2020: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2020 Horror Movies for 2021: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2021 Horror Movies for 2022: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2022 Horror Movies for 2023: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2023 Horror Movies for 2024: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2024 . Horror Guide: Scary Good

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1. Thanksgiving (I) (2023)

R | 106 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

After a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy, a mysterious Thanksgiving-inspired killer terrorizes Plymouth, Massachusetts - the birthplace of the infamous holiday.

Director: Eli Roth | Stars: Patrick Dempsey , Ty Olsson , Gina Gershon , Lynne Griffin

Votes: 27,208

2. When Evil Lurks (2023)

Not Rated | 99 min | Horror

In a remote village, two brothers find a demon-infected man just about to "give birth" to evil itself. They decide to get rid of the body, only to end up unintentionally spreading chaos.

Director: Demián Rugna | Stars: Ezequiel Rodríguez , Demián Salomón , Silvina Sabater , Luis Ziembrowski

Votes: 19,788

3. Saw X (2023)

R | 118 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A sick and desperate John travels to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure in hopes of a miracle cure for his cancer only to discover the entire operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable.

Director: Kevin Greutert | Stars: Tobin Bell , Shawnee Smith , Synnøve Macody Lund , Steven Brand

Votes: 63,434

4. Birth/Rebirth (2023)

R | 101 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A morgue technician successfully reanimates the body of a little girl, but to keep her breathing, she will need to harvest biological materials from pregnant women. When the girl's mother, a nurse, discovers her baby alive, they enter into a deal that forces them both down a dark path of no return.

Director: Laura Moss | Stars: Judy Reyes , Marin Ireland , Breeda Wool , Monique Gabriela Curnen

Votes: 4,364

5. Evil Dead Rise (2023)

R | 96 min | Horror

A twisted tale of two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.

Director: Lee Cronin | Stars: Mirabai Pease , Richard Crouchley , Anna-Maree Thomas , Lily Sullivan

Votes: 128,989

6. El Conde (2023)

R | 110 min | Comedy, Fantasy, History

After living 250 years in this world, Augusto Pinochet, who is not dead but an aged vampire, decides to die once and for all.

Director: Pablo Larraín | Stars: Jaime Vadell , Gloria Münchmeyer , Alfredo Castro , Paula Luchsinger

Votes: 7,676

7. Beau Is Afraid (2023)

R | 179 min | Comedy, Drama, Horror

Following the sudden death of his mother, a mild-mannered but anxiety-ridden man confronts his darkest fears as he embarks on an epic, Kafkaesque odyssey back home.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix , Patti LuPone , Amy Ryan , Nathan Lane

Votes: 51,375

8. Infinity Pool (2023)

R | 117 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

James and Em Foster are enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation in the fictional island of La Tolqa, when a fatal accident exposes the resort's perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence and surreal horrors.

Director: Brandon Cronenberg | Stars: Alexander Skarsgård , Mia Goth , Cleopatra Coleman , Dunja Sepcic

Votes: 50,557

9. Scream VI (2023)

R | 122 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

In the next installment, the survivors of the Ghostface killings leave Woodsboro behind and start a fresh chapter in New York City.

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin , Tyler Gillett | Stars: Courteney Cox , Melissa Barrera , Jenna Ortega , Jasmin Savoy Brown

Votes: 113,920

10. X (II) (2022)

R | 105 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.

Director: Ti West | Stars: Mia Goth , Jenna Ortega , Brittany Snow , Kid Cudi

Votes: 159,124

11. Pearl (2022)

R | 103 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

In 1918, a young woman on the brink of madness pursues stardom in a desperate attempt to escape the drudgery, isolation, and lovelessness of life on her parents' farm.

Director: Ti West | Stars: Mia Goth , David Corenswet , Tandi Wright , Matthew Sunderland

Votes: 85,896

12. Talk to Me (I) (2022)

R | 95 min | Horror, Thriller

When a group of friends discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far and unleashes terrifying supernatural forces.

Directors: Danny Philippou , Michael Philippou | Stars: Ari McCarthy , Hamish Phillips , Kit Erhart-Bruce , Sarah Brokensha

Votes: 118,138

13. M3GAN (2022)

PG-13 | 102 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A robotics engineer at a toy company builds a life-like doll that begins to take on a life of its own.

Director: Gerard Johnstone | Stars: Allison Williams , Violet McGraw , Ronny Chieng , Amie Donald

Votes: 135,767 | Gross: $93.88M

14. Barbarian (2022)

R | 102 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A woman staying at an Airbnb discovers that the house she has rented is not what it seems.

Director: Zach Cregger | Stars: Georgina Campbell , Bill Skarsgård , Justin Long , Matthew Patrick Davis

Votes: 171,057

15. Smile (V) (2022)

R | 115 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, a psychiatrist becomes increasingly convinced she is being threatened by an uncanny entity.

Director: Parker Finn | Stars: Sosie Bacon , Jessie T. Usher , Kyle Gallner , Robin Weigert

Votes: 149,811

16. The Menu (2022)

R | 107 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller

A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

Director: Mark Mylod | Stars: Ralph Fiennes , Anya Taylor-Joy , Nicholas Hoult , Hong Chau

Votes: 370,027

17. Bones and All (2022)

R | 131 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

A young woman embarks on a 1000 mile odyssey through America where she meets a disenfranchised drifter. But all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and to a final stand that will determine whether love can survive their otherness.

Director: Luca Guadagnino | Stars: Timothée Chalamet , Taylor Russell , Mark Rylance , Kendle Coffey

Votes: 54,138

18. Deadstream (2022)

Not Rated | 87 min | Comedy, Horror

A disgraced internet personality attempts to win back his followers by livestreaming one night alone in a haunted house. But when he accidentally pisses off a vengeful spirit, his big comeback event becomes a real-time fight for his life.

Directors: Joseph Winter , Vanessa Winter | Stars: Joseph Winter , Melanie Stone , Jason K. Wixom , Pat Barnett

Votes: 16,368

19. Piggy (2022)

Not Rated | 99 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

An overweight teen is bullied by a clique of cool girls poolside while holidaying in her village. The long walk home will change the rest of her life.

Director: Carlota Pereda | Stars: Laura Galán , Richard Holmes , Carmen Machi , Irene Ferreiro

Votes: 12,184

20. Terrifier 2 (2022)

Not Rated | 138 min | Horror

After being resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to the timid town of Miles County where he targets a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night.

Director: Damien Leone | Stars: Lauren LaVera , David Howard Thornton , Elliott Fullam , Sarah Voigt

Votes: 44,473

21. Soft & Quiet (2022)

R | 92 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

Playing out in real time, an elementary school teacher organizes a mixer of like-minded women, when she encounters a woman from her past, leading to a volatile chain of events.

Director: Beth de Araújo | Stars: Stefanie Estes , Olivia Luccardi , Dana Millican , Melissa Paulo

Votes: 9,348

22. Crimes of the Future (2022)

R | 107 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Humans adapt to a synthetic environment, with new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Viggo Mortensen , Léa Seydoux , Kristen Stewart , Scott Speedman

Votes: 39,150

23. Nope (2022)

R | 130 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.

Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Daniel Kaluuya , Keke Palmer , Brandon Perea , Michael Wincott

Votes: 254,759 | Gross: $123.28M

24. You Won't Be Alone (2022)

R | 108 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

In an isolated mountain village in 19th century Macedonia, a young girl is kidnapped and then transformed into a witch by an ancient spirit.

Director: Goran Stolevski | Stars: Noomi Rapace , Alice Englert , Anamaria Marinca , Sara Klimoska

Votes: 10,432

25. Watcher (I) (2022)

R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A young American woman moves with her husband to Bucharest, and begins to suspect that a stranger--who watches her from the apartment building across the street--may be a local serial killer decapitating women.

Director: Chloe Okuno | Stars: Maika Monroe , Karl Glusman , Burn Gorman , Tudor Petrut

Votes: 39,175

26. Hatching (2022)

16+ | 91 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A young gymnast, who tries desperately to please her demanding mother, discovers a strange egg. She hides it and keeps it warm, but when it hatches, what emerges shocks them all.

Director: Hanna Bergholm | Stars: Siiri Solalinna , Sophia Heikkilä , Jani Volanen , Reino Nordin

Votes: 14,342

27. Prey (I) (2022)

R | 100 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Naru, a skilled warrior of the Comanche Nation, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

Director: Dan Trachtenberg | Stars: Amber Midthunder , Dakota Beavers , Dane DiLiegro , Stormee Kipp

Votes: 220,621

28. What Josiah Saw (2021)

18+ | 120 min | Horror, Thriller

A family with buried secrets reunite at a farmhouse after two decades to pay for their past sins.

Director: Vincent Grashaw | Stars: Robert Patrick , Nick Stahl , Scott Haze , Kelli Garner

Votes: 3,985

29. The Black Phone (2021)

R | 103 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

After being abducted by a child killer and locked in a soundproof basement, a 13-year-old boy starts receiving calls on a disconnected phone from the killer's previous victims.

Director: Scott Derrickson | Stars: Mason Thames , Madeleine McGraw , Ethan Hawke , Jeremy Davies

Votes: 184,093 | Gross: $90.12M

30. The Innocents (2021)

Not Rated | 117 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

During the bright Nordic summer, a group of children reveal their dark and mysterious powers when the adults aren't looking. In this original and gripping supernatural thriller, playtime takes a dangerous turn.

Director: Eskil Vogt | Stars: Rakel Lenora Petersen Fløttum , Alva Brynsmo Ramstad , Sam Ashraf , Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim

Votes: 23,524

31. The Cursed (2021)

R | 111 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

In rural 19th-century France, a mysterious, possibly supernatural menace threatens a small village. John McBride, a pathologist, comes to town to investigate the danger - and exorcise some of his own demons in the process.

Director: Sean Ellis | Stars: Boyd Holbrook , Kelly Reilly , Alistair Petrie , Roxane Duran

Votes: 15,145

32. Malignant (I) (2021)

R | 111 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

Madison is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.

Director: James Wan | Stars: Annabelle Wallis , Maddie Hasson , George Young , Michole Briana White

Votes: 105,948 | Gross: $13.39M

33. Titane (2021)

R | 108 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Following a series of unexplained crimes, a father is reunited with the son who has been missing for 10 years.

Director: Julia Ducournau | Stars: Vincent Lindon , Agathe Rousselle , Garance Marillier , Laïs Salameh

Votes: 54,171

34. Last Night in Soho (2021)

R | 116 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Aspiring fashion designer Eloise is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s, where she encounters dazzling wannabe singer Sandie. But the glamour is not as it seems, and the dreams of the past crack and splinter into something darker.

Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Thomasin McKenzie , Anya Taylor-Joy , Matt Smith , Diana Rigg

Votes: 169,995

35. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

R | 112 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

The Warrens investigate a murder that may be linked to a demonic possession.

Director: Michael Chaves | Stars: Patrick Wilson , Vera Farmiga , Ruairi O'Connor , Sarah Catherine Hook

Votes: 135,367 | Gross: $65.63M

36. Lamb (2021)

R | 106 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A childless couple discovers a mysterious newborn on their farm in Iceland.

Director: Valdimar Jóhannsson | Stars: Noomi Rapace , Hilmir Snær Guðnason , Björn Hlynur Haraldsson , Ingvar Sigurdsson

Votes: 36,476

37. You Are Not My Mother (2021)

16+ | 93 min | Drama, Horror

In a North Dublin housing estate Char's mother goes missing. When she returns Char is determined to uncover the truth of her disappearance and unearth the dark secrets of her family.

Director: Kate Dolan | Stars: Hazel Doupe , Carolyn Bracken , Ingrid Craigie , Jordanne Jones

Votes: 5,610

38. The Sadness (2021)

TV-MA | 99 min | Horror

A young couple trying to reunite amid a city ravaged by a plague that turns its victims into deranged, bloodthirsty sadists.

Director: Rob Jabbaz | Stars: Berant Zhu , Regina Lei , Ying-Ru Chen , Tzu-Chiang Wang

Votes: 17,914

39. Freaky (2020)

R | 102 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller

After swapping bodies with a deranged serial killer, a high-school senior discovers that she has fewer than 24 hours before the change becomes permanent.

Director: Christopher Landon | Stars: Vince Vaughn , Kathryn Newton , Celeste O'Connor , Misha Osherovich

Votes: 70,424

40. A Quiet Place Part II (2020)

PG-13 | 97 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.

Director: John Krasinski | Stars: Emily Blunt , Millicent Simmonds , Cillian Murphy , John Krasinski

Votes: 264,941 | Gross: $160.07M

41. Possessor (2020)

R | 103 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

An agent works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people's bodies - ultimately driving them to commit assassinations for high-paying clients.

Director: Brandon Cronenberg | Stars: Andrea Riseborough , Christopher Abbott , Jennifer Jason Leigh , Rossif Sutherland

Votes: 44,296

42. The Empty Man (2020)

R | 137 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

On the trail of a missing girl, an ex-cop comes across a secretive group attempting to summon a terrifying supernatural entity.

Director: David Prior | Stars: James Badge Dale , Marin Ireland , Sasha Frolova , Samantha Logan

Votes: 36,945

43. The Invisible Man (I) (2020)

R | 124 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

Director: Leigh Whannell | Stars: Elisabeth Moss , Oliver Jackson-Cohen , Harriet Dyer , Aldis Hodge

Votes: 249,737 | Gross: $70.41M

44. The Night House (2020)

R | 107 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A widow begins to uncover her recently deceased husband's disturbing secrets.

Director: David Bruckner | Stars: Rebecca Hall , Sarah Goldberg , Vondie Curtis-Hall , Evan Jonigkeit

Votes: 65,070

45. The Call (2020)

TV-MA | 112 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

Two people live in different times. Seo-Yeon lives in the present and Young-Sook lives in the past. One phone call connects the two, and their lives are changed irrevocably.

Director: Chung-Hyun Lee | Stars: Park Shin-Hye , Jeon Jong-seo , Kim Sung-ryung , Lee El

Votes: 41,775

46. The Dark and the Wicked (2020)

Not Rated | 95 min | Horror

On a secluded farm in a nondescript rural town, a man is slowly dying. His family gathers to mourn, and soon a darkness grows, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that something evil is taking over the family.

Director: Bryan Bertino | Stars: Marin Ireland , Michael Abbott Jr. , Julie Oliver-Touchstone , Lynn Andrews

Votes: 21,500

47. His House (2020)

TV-14 | 93 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.

Director: Remi Weekes | Stars: Sope Dirisu , Wunmi Mosaku , Malaika Wakoli-Abigaba , Matt Smith

Votes: 47,385

48. The Hunt (II) (2020)

R | 90 min | Action, Horror, Thriller

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don't know where they are, or how they got there. They don't know they've been chosen - for a very specific purpose - The Hunt.

Director: Craig Zobel | Stars: Betty Gilpin , Hilary Swank , Ike Barinholtz , Wayne Duvall

Votes: 125,325 | Gross: $5.81M

49. Hunter Hunter (2020)

Unrated | 93 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Joseph and his family live in the remote wilderness as fur trappers, but their tranquility is threatened when they think they are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf, and Joseph leaves them behind to track it.

Director: Shawn Linden | Stars: Camille Sullivan , Summer H. Howell , Devon Sawa , Nick Stahl

Votes: 12,578

50. Relic (2020)

R | 89 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family's home.

Director: Natalie Erika James | Stars: Robyn Nevin , Emily Mortimer , Bella Heathcote , Steve Rodgers

Votes: 29,473

51. The Platform (2019)

TV-MA | 94 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. Only one food platform and two minutes per day to feed. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole.

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia | Stars: Ivan Massagué , Zorion Eguileor , Antonia San Juan , Emilio Buale

Votes: 263,030

52. Saint Maud (2019)

R | 84 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A pious nurse becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.

Director: Rose Glass | Stars: Morfydd Clark , Caoilfhionn Dunne , Jennifer Ehle , Marcus Hutton

Votes: 45,197

53. Midsommar (2019)

R | 148 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A couple travels to Northern Europe to visit a rural hometown's fabled Swedish mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Florence Pugh , Jack Reynor , Vilhelm Blomgren , William Jackson Harper

Votes: 385,395 | Gross: $27.33M

54. The Lighthouse (I) (2019)

R | 109 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

Director: Robert Eggers | Stars: Robert Pattinson , Willem Dafoe , Valeriia Karaman , Logan Hawkes

Votes: 247,092 | Gross: $0.43M

55. La Llorona (2019)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

An aging paranoid war criminal, protected by his faithful wife, faces death while being haunted by the ghosts of his past.

Director: Jayro Bustamante | Stars: María Mercedes Coroy , Sabrina De La Hoz , Margarita Kenéfic , Julio Diaz

Votes: 7,572

56. Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

R | 99 min | Action, Comedy, Horror

Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family.

Director: Ruben Fleischer | Stars: Woody Harrelson , Jesse Eisenberg , Emma Stone , Abigail Breslin

Votes: 197,229 | Gross: $73.12M

57. It Chapter Two (2019)

R | 169 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

Director: Andy Muschietti | Stars: Jessica Chastain , James McAvoy , Bill Hader , Isaiah Mustafa

Votes: 295,455 | Gross: $211.59M

58. Us (II) (2019)

R | 116 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A family's serene beach vacation turns to chaos when their doppelgängers appear and begin to terrorize them.

Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Lupita Nyong'o , Winston Duke , Elisabeth Moss , Tim Heidecker

Votes: 333,771 | Gross: $175.08M

59. The Mortuary Collection (2019)

Not Rated | 108 min | Fantasy, Horror

An eccentric mortician recounts several macabre and phantasmagorical tales that he's encountered in his distinguished career.

Director: Ryan Spindell | Stars: Tristan Byon , Eden Campbell , Hannah R. Loyd , Clancy Brown

Votes: 14,293

60. The Lodge (2019)

R | 108 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé's two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.

Directors: Severin Fiala , Veronika Franz | Stars: Riley Keough , Jaeden Martell , Lia McHugh , Richard Armitage

Votes: 55,575

61. Crawl (I) (2019)

R | 87 min | Action, Adventure, Horror

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.

Director: Alexandre Aja | Stars: Kaya Scodelario , Barry Pepper , Morfydd Clark , Ross Anderson

Votes: 92,596 | Gross: $39.01M

62. Ready or Not (I) (2019)

R | 95 min | Action, Comedy, Horror

A bride's wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game.

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin , Tyler Gillett | Stars: Samara Weaving , Adam Brody , Mark O'Brien , Henry Czerny

Votes: 176,614 | Gross: $28.71M

63. The Golden Glove (2019)

Not Rated | 115 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

A serial killer strikes fear in the hearts of residents of Hamburg during the early 1970s.

Director: Fatih Akin | Stars: Jonas Dassler , Vasiliki Georgina Pseimada , Christine Jensen , Greta Sophie Schmidt

Votes: 17,555

64. Color Out of Space (2019)

Unrated | 111 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A secluded farm is struck by a strange meteorite which has apocalyptic consequences for the family living there and possibly the world.

Director: Richard Stanley | Stars: Nicolas Cage , Joely Richardson , Madeleine Arthur , Elliot Knight

Votes: 54,849

65. Hereditary (2018)

R | 127 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Toni Collette , Milly Shapiro , Gabriel Byrne , Alex Wolff

Votes: 366,129 | Gross: $44.07M

66. All the Gods in the Sky (2018)

110 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

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Box office: ‘night swim’ dips toes in water with $1.5m in thursday previews.

The horror pic is the first nationwide release of 2024.

By Pamela McClintock

Pamela McClintock

Senior Film Writer

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Night Swim

Night Swim has begun its run in theaters with $1.5 million in previews.

The horror pic, from Blumhouse and Universal, is the first new nationwide release of 2024 and is tipped to open to $9 million or more in North America. That may not be enough to topple Christmas musical Wonka from the top spots.

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Fortunately for the filmmakers, horror fans don’t necessarily pay attention to reviews.

The story begins with flashback of a young girl who meets an unfortunate end when she attempts to retrieve a mysterious toy boat from her backyard swimming pool. Years later, the Waller family movies in: Ray ( Wyatt Russell ), a former baseball player whose career was cut short by multiple sclerosis; his wife, Eve ( Kerry Condon ); teenage daughter Izzy (Amelie Hoeferle; and his not-so-athletic 12-year old son Elliot (Gavin Warren).

Holiday holdovers will dominate this weekend’s box office chart. Warner Bros.’ Wonka , the biggest winner of the Christmas season, will finish the weekend with more than $160 million or $170 million in domestic ticket sales. DC and Warners’ superhero pic Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has earned just $87.5 million to date domestically, a sobering sum for a big-budget superhero pic.

Among other yuletide offerings, Universal and Illumination’s animated family pic Migration has earned north of $65 million to date domestically, while Sony’s edgy romantic-comedy Anyone But You has grossed a pleasing $32 million-plus.

Adult-skewing films The Color Purple (Warners), The Boys in the Boa t (MGM/Amazon) and The Iron Claw (A24) are also competing in theaters.

Movies up for top Golden Globe nominations at Sunday’s ceremony could see a bump this weekend as moviegoers rush to catch up before the show, although this phenomenon isn’t as prevalent as it once was.

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‘past lives’ named best picture by national society of film critics, box office: ‘night swim’ opening to $12.5m, ‘wonka’ leads overall as post-holiday doldrums begin, steven soderbergh, richard linklater and jesse eisenberg join sundance’s beyond film lineup, ice cube addresses ‘friday after next’ rape scene claim and movie pay following trending katt williams interview, gerard butler reprising ‘how to train your dragon’ role for live-action remake, peloton instructor responds to unexpected christopher nolan shoutout: “you can critique my class”.

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The best and worst new horror movies of 2023

  • 2023 was a major year for horror fans with the release of highly-anticipated movies like "Scream 6."
  • But other sequels, including the newest "Exorcist," didn't meet our expectations.
  • Here are seven of the best and seven of the worst new horror films.

Insider Today

A cheese grater used on human skin, a disembodied possessed hand, and a subway car full of people in Ghostface costumes — these fearsome sights and more filled our screens in 2023, which was one of the most interesting years for the horror genre to date.

While there were some truly stellar horror movies this year — "Talk to Me," "Totally Killer," and "When Evil Lurks," to name a few — there were also some disappointments as well. For instance, the latest film in the "Exorcist" franchise looked amazing from the trailer, but was a massive letdown in reality.

Here are seven of the best and seven of the worst horror movies released in 2023.

Best: "Evil Dead Rise"

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Following up Sam Raimi's original "Evil Dead" movies is no easy feat, and yet Irish director Lee Cronin does it with ease in 2023's "Evil Dead Rise." The film follows Beth (Lily Sullivan) who visits her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her kids in Los Angeles after some personal drama.

But it isn't long before the Necronomicon rears its ugly head, and transforms Ellie into a gleefully unhinged Deadite. Although this has all the hallmarks of Raimi's movies like buckets of gore, body horror, and perfectly timed jump scares, Cronin manages to put his own stamp on things.

The sequel breathes new life into the franchise by moving the horror from a secluded cabin to a claustrophobic apartment. It also operates on a deeper level by telling a story about the pressure of motherhood, which is a fascinating lens to view the franchise through.

With pulse-pounding performances from the cast and some razor-sharp scares, "Evil Dead Rise" is a bloody treat.

Best: "Talk to Me"

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"Talk to Me" follows Mia, a grieving teenager who's encouraged by her friends to try a new high: getting possessed by dead spirits via a cursed hand, all while being recorded by their peers on smartphones.

Unsurprisingly, it's not a great idea to open your body to vengeful ghosts, and things take a terrible turn when Mia's friend's younger brother Riley becomes possessed after a turn with the hand.

"Talk to Me" features a refreshingly spooky story, a talented young cast, and a devastating ending that might not be for everyone, but certainly left an impression on us. In addition, the film's special effects — particularly during a scene in which Riley smashes his face to a pulp — are gory and memorable.

One of the most original horror films in recent years, "Talk to Me" is sure to keep you up at night. And fans of the film should definitely check out directors Danny and Michael Philippou's popular YouTube videos, which are equally as as meticulously plotted and flawlessly executed as "Talk to Me."

Best: "Scream 6"

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With so many horror movies revolving around people in masks murdering teenagers, you'd be forgiven for thinking that "Scream 6" would be a dud. But Ghostface's most recent outing was a surprising treat.

It takes place one year after the events of 2022's "Scream," the fifth installment in the slasher franchise, as Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) has moved to New York with her sister, Tara (Jenna Ortega), and her friends as they go to college in the city. Unfortunately, a new Ghostface with a grisly appetite follows and starts hunting the gang through the streets.

The franchise has always taken a meta approach to the slasher genre, and "Scream 6" takes it one step further as Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown) waxes lyrical about the rules of being in a franchise movie. Everyone is both a potential victim, and a potential killer.

And although it doesn't reinvent the wheel, the movie is incredibly fun watching the killer slash their way across the city. Yes, it's basically "Ghostface Takes New York," and we're here for it.

Best: "When Evil Lurks"

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"When Evil Lurks" might just be one of the most disturbingly original movies of the last few years, and shows that Argentinian director and writer Demián Rugna might be one of the most exciting creators in the genre.

The film follows two brothers, Pedro (Ezequiel Rodriguez) and Jaime (Demián Salomon), who grapple with an epidemic of demonic possessions near their home. It's set in a world which is familiar with demons, and the government even has plans in place to contain and destroy the "Rotten."

Pedro and Jaime scramble to save the people closest to them when the bureaucratic rules fail to protect the civilians, and the possessions start to spread. Rugna injects the film with an overwhelming sense of dread, largely because anyone, and anything, can potentially fall foul of the demons.

The world Rugna creates in itself is fascinating, but the fact that he's crafted a haunting story with a devastating ending is nothing short of masterful. And that's all without mentioning the buckets of gore that the director unleashes on the audience… Yikes.

Best: "Cobweb"

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"Cobweb" is a mysterious little beast. It revolves around Peter (Woody Norman), a young boy who starts hearing voices inside the walls of his house. The voices warn him that his parents, Mark (Antony Starr) and Carol (Lizzy Caplan) are not what they seem.

This paranoid horror-thriller touches on some fascinating themes of nature vs. nurture, and it's great to see Starr flex his horror muscles away from Homelander and "The Boys."

He dials up the creep factor here in some surprising ways, but the dynamic between Peter and the voice (Debra Wilson) is the real draw here.

Writer Chris Thomas Devlin adds a new twist on a typical monster trope, and while the film itself isn't groundbreaking, it's an effective story. And with a tight 88-minute long runtime, it's a perfect Saturday night movie.

Best: "No One Will Save You"

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Few horror movies have been able to pull off the gimmick of having next-to-no dialogue in their story. And the ones that do, like "Hush" or "A Quiet Place," have set the bar quite high. So it's surprising, then, that Hulu's "No One Will Save You" manages to keep audiences gripped for its 93-minute runtime.

The movie stars Kaitlyn Dever as Brynn, a young woman who lives alone in a small town and is struggling to get over the trauma of her best friend's death. When aliens descend on the town, Brynn tries to out-maneuver the extraterrestrials inside her home.

It's a simple story that doesn't try to overcomplicate things with big, bombastic set pieces. But when writer-director Brian Duffield chooses to ramp the action up, it's a pulse-pounding experience.

The ending might be a little underwhelming depending on how much audiences get out of Brynn's character. But "No One Will Save You" is an impressive adventure with B-movie vibes.

Best: "Infinity Pool"

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Director Brandon Cronenberg — much like his father, the legendary David Cronenberg — knows how to deliver fascinating science-fiction horror. "Infinity Pool" takes audiences to the fictional country of Li Tolqa, where writer James (Alexander Skarsgård) discovers a bizarre punishment for anyone caught committing serious crimes.

For a huge fee, the criminal can pay to be cloned and have their sentence inflicted upon their duplicate self. And after accidentally killing a local with his car, James opts to go through the procedure himself instead of facing punishment.

It's a bizarre look at the loss of self, morality, and responsibility. Cronenberg offers the audience a deep question: Would they also follow James' path if they could get away with murder? Or does the rising body count of clones only make things worse?

It's a gripping story, with top notch performances from Skarsgård and Mia Goth.

Best: "Totally Killer"

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

Horror fans have devoured countless slasher movies over the decades, and it's difficult to make them really standout from the masked crowd. But throw in a time-travel plot with a self-aware streak, and "Totally Killer" is a plucky addition to the genre.

It follows Jamie (Kiernan Shipka), whose mother survived a masked killer in the 1980s only to be killed in the present day by someone in the same mask.

Jamie uses a time machine built by her friend to try and stop her mother from being killed, with surprising consequences. Think "Back to the Future" meets "Scream."

"Mad Men" and "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" star Kiernan Shipka carries the film with ease, and she clearly has a lot of fun with the fish-out-of-water trope. This hugely enjoyable flick doesn't completely reinvent the slasher movie, but it keeps audiences hooked regardless. Sequel, please!

Worst: "The Nun II"

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The fact that "The Nun II" isn't called "The Nun II: Back in the Habit" is the sequel's first offense. The second? Being painfully boring. It's another spinoff from "The Conjuring" series, which are some of the creepiest movies of the last decade thanks to their numerous jump scares.

But "The Nun II" is just a bland, typical sequel. Anyone who's ever seen a horror movie will be able to spot the annoyingly predictable jump scares coming from a mile away.

It's a shame, because leading star Taissa Farmiga does the best she can with an underwhelming script, but the "American Horror Story" alum deserves better. The power of Christ doesn't compel "The Nun II," that's for sure.

Worst: "Insidious: The Red Door"

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

We love Patrick Wilson's work in "The Conjuring" franchise, and support his transition to directing wholeheartedly. But even though Wilson clearly tried his hardest, "Insidious: The Red Door" just doesn't cut it for us.

For starters, did we really need another "Insidious" film? The franchise has had some interesting moments, but overall, the films have gradually declined in quality. And "Insidious: The Red Door" doesn't even dive deep into the mythology of the universe, including the origins of the Lipstick-Face Demon, which feels like a wasted opportunity.

Overall, this final installment in the "Insidious" franchise is a bit of a letdown — it's not even that scary, which, for a horror movie, is pretty important.

Worst: "Pet Sematary: Bloodlines"

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

It was ambitious of "Pet Sematary: Bloodlines" to try and give some context to Stephen King's terrifying original story, but the film ultimately fails in both its quest to build out the "Pet Sematary" universe, and in being actually scary.

The movie has promise and a not-uninteresting premise. But overall, it seems to be banking on its association with King and the original horror movie, and not the actual merits of its own plot and jump scares.

Worst: "Nefarious"

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

"Nefarious" revolves around psychiatrist Dr. James Martin (Jordan Belfi) who is tasked with discerning whether Edward Wayne Brady (Sean Patrick Flanery), a death row inmate who has murdered 11 people, is sane or not.

The problem is that Brady claims to be possessed by a demon called Nefarious. Yes, Martin has to figure out whether Brady is possessed or not. It's effectively "The Exorcist" or "The Conjuring" through a crime drama lens, and it doesn't work at all.

The paint-by-numbers plot makes its 97-minute runtime feel much longer, and it's only mildly kept afloat by Flanery's performance. It attempts to say something meaningful about religion and a crisis of faith, but there's nothing below the surface.

Worst: "Children of the Corn"

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

This adaptation of "Children of the Corn," first produced in 2020 before getting a delayed release this year, proves that not everything needs a remake — particularly a Stephen King story that's already been dramatized countless times.

The story of "Children of the Corn" (about a cult of kids who murder all the adults in their town) is interesting enough, and could be a vehicle for an incisive modern remake. However, this adaptation wasn't it — it tries to be topical, but doesn't explore the issues it raises in depth, and the exposition at the end both comes too late and falls flat.

Overall, this version of "Children of the Corn" was a completely unnecessary and very disappointing remake.

Worst: "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey"

hollywood movies ghost horror movies

When Winnie the Pooh and all of his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood entered the public domain, the last thing anyone was expecting was a gritty, horror reimagining from British director, Rhys Frake-Waterfield.

The idea is simple: Winnie and the gang are heartbroken by Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) leaving them behind to grow up. And to vent their frustrations when he returns, Winnie and Piglet go on a killing spree. Lovely!

While this could've been something pretty fun, it's surprisingly dull. Sure, the kills are gratuitously violent, but the shock factor of seeing characters from a children's book slaughtering people wears off pretty quickly. It's an interesting idea, but poorly executed. And the less we say about the performances, the better.

Suffice it to say, we will not be eagerly awaiting the planned sequel .

Worst: "The Exorcist: Believer"

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Despite guest appearances from Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair , who both famously starred in the original "Exorcist" film, the newest addition to the franchise lacks the pure terror that made the original so compelling.

Instead, "The Exorcist: Believer" revisits similar tropes from the 1973 original, and doesn't add anything new to our understanding of the demonic possessions central to the franchise, despite a major twist at the ending. (One that's pretty obvious from the beginning, if we're being honest.)

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COMMENTS

  1. 50 Of The Best Ghost Movies

    Pulse (2001), Wind Chill, The Uninvited (2009), The Bunker, Grave Encounters 2, A Tale Of Two Sisters, They Wait, Ghost Ship, The Haunted (1991), White Noise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, House On Haunted Hill (1959), Death Ship, Half Light, Mama, Haunted (1995), What Lies Beneath, The Woman In Black (1989), The Innkeepers, Crimson ...

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    1408 (2007) A grieving father who specializes in disproving supernatural phenomena (John Cusack) puts the legend of an hotel room with a supposedly deadly curse to the test, only to find a reason ...

  3. 50 Best Ghost Movies Ever Made

    The Changeling (1980) Pan-Canadian Film Distributors. In this terrifying psychological horror flick that's often considered one of the best horror films of all time, a composer who recently lost ...

  4. 50 Greatest Ghost Movies Of All Time Ranked

    45. Casper (1995) Amblin Entertainment. Most of the time, "Casper" is a light-hearted and innocent little movie about a young girl (Christina Ricci) learning to accept change. After the death of ...

  5. The 50 Best Ghost Movies of All Time

    Muschietti also gets some solid performances out of his actors, especially Jessica Chastain. It's hard not to sympathize with her character, Annabel, thrust into the "mother" of all bad ...

  6. 46 of the Best Ghost Movies of All Time

    Yeah, that'll work. "Ghostbusters" (the original) is silly, a little scary and full of state-of-the-art special effects — for 1984, anyhow. Love for the franchise means there's an all-women ...

  7. List of ghost films

    Ghost movies and shows can fall into a wide range of genres, including romance, comedy, horror, juvenile interest, and drama. Depictions of ghosts are as diverse as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Beetlejuice, Hamlet's father, Jacob Marley, Freddy Krueger, and Moaning Myrtle, as well as the traditional spectral spirits and other bumps in the night.

  8. 33 Best Ghost Movies of All Time

    The Ring. IMDb. Based on the Japanese horror original, Ringu, filmmaker Gore Verbinski's psychological nightmare stars Naomi Watts as a reporter investigating a string of teen murders. On the surface, sure, it's a movie about a videotape that kills those who watch it. In seven days.

  9. 20 Best Ghost Movies of All Time (2021 Edition)

    3. The Innocents (1961) Director: Jack Clayton. One of the best horror movies of all time, this adaptation of the Henry James novel The Turn of the Screw is a powerhouse of psychological horror ...

  10. Scariest ghosts in cinema

    7. The man in the lift in The Eye (2002) The downside of a violinist's sight-restoring cornea transplants is that they make her see scary ghosts in the Pang brothers' Hong Kong/Singaporean ...

  11. The 65+ Best Ghost Movies Of All Time

    The 65+ Best Ghost Horror Movies, Ranked. Total Nerd. #2Beetlejuice. #6Alfred Hitchcock Presents. COLLECTION22 LISTS. Eerie true tales of people and places being haunted by g-g-g-ghoooosts!!! The Most Famous Celebrity G... The Moments They Began to B... 17 People Share Their Personal Encounters With ...

  12. Best ghosts-horror movies

    In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves. Director: Nick Murphy | Stars: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Lucy Cohu. Votes: 68,501

  13. Top Horror Films From 2020-2023

    32 titles. 1. A Quiet Place Part II (2020) PG-13 | 97 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi. 7.2. Rate. 71 Metascore. Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.

  14. Top 20 Ghost Films (Thriller/Suspense)

    3. The Others (2001) PG-13 | 104 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller. 7.6. Rate. 74 Metascore. In 1945, immediately following the end of Second World War, a woman who lives with her two photosensitive children on her darkened old family estate in the Channel Islands becomes convinced that the home is haunted.

  15. 50 best ghost haunted horror movies by MANIAC

    50 titles. 1. The Changeling (1980) R | 107 min | Horror, Mystery. 7.2. Rate. 70 Metascore. After the death of his wife and daughter in a car crash, a music professor staying at a long-vacant Seattle mansion is dragged into a decades-old mystery by an inexplicable presence in the mansion's attic.

  16. Best Horror Movies of 2023 Ranked

    Huesera: The Bone Woman97%. #2. Critics Consensus: A bone-chilling body horror, Huesera offers genre fans a twisted take on What to Expect When You're Expecting. Synopsis: Valeria's joy at becoming a first-time mother is quickly taken away when she's cursed by a sinister entity.

  17. 200 Best Horror Movies of All Time

    The Silence of the Lambs (1991)95%. #5. Critics Consensus: Director Jonathan Demme's smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

  18. 22 Horror Movies to Watch When You Want a Good Scare

    We Have a Ghost. Happy Death Day, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Freaky established Christopher Landon as one of the best directors of horror comedies working today. His ability to blend teen-friendly screams with sophisticated meta commentary about the genre makes him a perfect fit for We Have a Ghost, which Landon adapted from a short story by Geoff Manaugh.

  19. Best Horror Movies of 2021, Ranked

    Lucky93%. #5. Critics Consensus: A rich blend of thrilling horror and sharp social commentary, Lucky acts as a bloody good calling card for director Natasha Kermani and writer-star Brea Grant. Synopsis: A self-help book author finds herself stalked by a threatening figure who returns to her house night after night.

  20. The Best Ghost Horror Movies On Netflix

    So, whether you're a horror fanatic or a casual viewer looking for a thrill, this collection of spectral cinema is your ticket to a night of frightful fun. 1. Visions. 530 votes. 2. Malevolent. 169 votes. 3. The Ritual.

  21. 44+ Best Ghost Movies Ever Made

    Ghost movies are steeped in the horror genre. However, films about ghosts are virtually made in every single genre from arthouse to comedy to romance, to even beloved family films. ... Rebecca (1941) is the first Hollywood production from Alfred Hitchcock and a black and white gothic masterpiece that won the Academy Award for Best Picture and ...

  22. 21 Mystery Horror Movies That Perfectly Blend Panic And Puzzles

    A dark, twisted, and sadistic thriller from the warped mind of David Fincher, Se7en sends is all but guaranteed to send chills down the spine of any brave, or foolish, enough to watch as two detectives hunt down a serial killer whose murders are inspired by the seven deadly sins. With an all star cast headlined by Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey, the film uses disturbing and ...

  23. TOP HORROR MOVIES: 2000-2024

    75 Metascore. In a remote village, two brothers find a demon-infected man just about to "give birth" to evil itself. They decide to get rid of the body, only to end up unintentionally spreading chaos. Director: Demián Rugna | Stars: Ezequiel Rodríguez, Demián Salomón, Silvina Sabater, Luis Ziembrowski. Votes: 19,497.

  24. List of horror films of 2024

    Retrieved 2024-01-03. ^ Squires, John (May 9, 2023). " 'Imaginary' - Blumhouse Horror Movie from 'Cry Wolf' Director Sets 2024 Release". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved July 30, 2023. ^ Tangcay, Jazz; Flam, Charna (April 19, 2023). " 'Godzilla x Kong' Sequel Gets New Title - Film News in Brief". Variety. Archived from the original on April 20 ...

  25. 49 Most Anticipated Movies of 2024

    January 4, 2024 1:29pm. 'Dune 2,' 'Madame Web' and 'Inside Out 2' Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros; Sony Pictures; Disney/Pixar. The dual actors and writers strikes of 2023 have wreaked havoc on the ...

  26. Mickey Mouse Slasher Film Trailer Drops; Steamboat Willie in Public

    On the first day that Disney 's 1928 short Steamboat Willie entered the public domain, a trailer has dropped for a horror comedy film featuring none other than Mickey Mouse as the killer. The ...

  27. 'Night Swim' Earns $1.5M in Thursday Box Office Previews

    Box Office: 'Night Swim' Dips Toes in Water With $1.5M in Thursday Previews. The horror pic is the first nationwide release of 2024. By Pamela McClintock. January 5, 2024 8:00am. 'Night Swim ...

  28. 8 of the Best Horror Movies of 2023, and 7 of the Worst

    Eammon Jacobs and Libby Torres. Universal Pictures, A24, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Tyler Le/BI. 2023 was a major year for horror fans with the release of highly-anticipated movies like "Scream 6 ...