There’s nothing more frightening than an intruder in your home – especially when the unwanted visitors aren’t even human. It’s an unsettling invasion of privacy in the place where you’re supposed to feel the safest, and oftentimes you’ll come to realize that your house has a much more disturbing history than you ever could have imagined. It’s these feelings of fear, discomfort, and dread that make the haunted house tale one of the most beloved in the history of horror.
Admit it, you’ve watched a haunted house flick at home and slept with the lights on for a few days afterward, or seen ghostly apparitions that don’t exist. The best horror films get a rise out of you that you never even knew you needed… because life’s no fun without a good scare, right? Below are 8 of what we think are the best haunted house horror movies and TV shows that will make you question every door creak or light flickering for years to come.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
The season that started it all… and arguably the best one since Ryan Murphy went crazy with nuns, nazis, and circus freaks. The Harmons just wanted a fresh start, and thought they would find it in their gorgeous new Los Angeles mansion, until they discovered that the place was a murder hotspot (hence the title) and crawling with malicious spirits. In the nearly 10 years since American Horror Story has been airing, they still haven’t pulled off a better plot twist than Violet being unknowingly dead for half the season. In our opinion, this is the best haunted house tv series ever made. A bold statement, but it’s that good.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Technically, it’s the female protagonist Katie Featherston that’s being followed around by a ghost, not the house, but this film is still lots of spooky fun. Any horror enthusiast will remember all the hype around Paranormal Activity, with people jumping out of their seats in the trailer and critics hailing it as the scariest movie of the decade. We wouldn’t go that far, but it’s definitely one of the best haunted house flicks in recent years. It’s been over a decade, and that ending still sticks in people’s minds…
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Creepy kid? Check. Jump scares? Check. Twist ending that you definitely didn’t see coming? Check. Everything about this horror classic is iconic – from the famous horror quote, “I see dead people” line to the surprise ending that made M. Night Shyamalan a (haunted) household name. Like any good paranormal movie, the human characters are very human, providing emotional arcs that keep you invested and remind you that plenty of monsters are very much alive.
Unlike IT, this TV miniseries from Stephen King didn’t go on to become a hit film franchise (yet,) but it’s still an underrated haunted house story. It takes place not in Maine, but Seattle… in a mansion with a deadly history and an uncanny ability to change shape and size every time you step through the door. As you watch the secrets of the mansion come to life, you’ll be reminded by Stephen King is forever the godfather of the horror genre.
Rotten Tomatoes: 16%
Based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House (not to be confused with the series, we’ll get to that later,) this film challenges the age-old question surrounding paranormal encounters. Is some crazy sh** happening, or am I just losing my mind? Researchers study a group of siblings as they’re locked inside an old-timey mansion, and as you can imagine… it’s not pretty. There’s a lot of horror cliches and overdone CGI, but it’s a good pick for a scary movie night at home.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Sometimes the paranormal entities in a home are harmless and just want to play. Other times they’re the ghost of an accused witch and baby killer who sets out to murder anybody who moves into her old house. Not cool. Bathsheba in The Conjuring is one terrifying spirit, and while multiple sequels have been released since this scary flick hit theaters in 2013… Annabelle the doll and the Nun have nothing on her.
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
An oldie but a goodie… this film follows a New York City composer as he moves into an old Victorian mansion after the devastating loss of his wife and child. Most people probably wouldn’t move into such a large and creepy house alone, but you do you. As you can imagine, a number of paranormal encounters begin to occur – from ghostly apparitions to loud banging. The story is a little slow to unravel, but you slowly learn that the mansion has a haunting history that’s probably worse than you imagined. The changeling is often referred to as one of the best haunted house movies.
Sure, you may have wanted to shout “your wand, Harry!” a few times throughout the film… but Daniel Radcliffe gave a killer performance in one of his first roles after Harry Potter. He plays a widower who tries to uncover the secrets of a vengeful spirit who is terrorizing the townspeople. While it’s a pretty typical ghost story, and doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table when it comes to horror… the cinematography is gorgeous and the ending will have you on the edge of your seat.
This is a relative newcomer but it is a really great haunted house series coming from Netflix. In this haunted tale, a family is coming to terms with a tragic past that all started when they moved into Hill House to renovate it. The series jumps back and forth between the past tragedies and the future where the family is unraveling as they try and figure out exactly what happened at Hill House. It’s a must-see for any haunted house horror fans.