© Buena Vista
The Others mines the vintage gothic setting of a World War II-era mansion for spooky thrills in this tale of a mother and her two young photosensitive children stuck in their house as they await the return of their soldier father. Of course, the house just happens to be haunted. Marvelously paced with a delicious twist ending, this is the kind of high-end cinema that appeals to viewers who don't even like horror movies.
This groundbreaking British TV movie is one of the earliest POV/"found footage" horror movies
, purporting to be a live broadcast of a supposedly haunted house. Utilizing techniques that would later gain widespread notoriety in films like Paranormal Activity
, The Blair Witch Project
, this superbly executed "mockumentary" proves terrifying because it's so realistic and because it plays so cleverly on our fears by inserting almost subliminal imagery to mess with our minds.
15. The Baby's Room (2006)
In this frantic entry in the Spanish series Six Films to Keep You Awake, a couple discovers that they can view ghosts in their new home through a baby cam.
© Buena Vista
Like Lady in White, The Sixth Sense generates scares by putting you in the position of a helpless child who discovers that there really are monsters in his closet...and under his bed...and hanging from his ceiling. Its now-clichéd "I see dead people" line and well-worn twist ending make people forget how many terrifying moments the film has: the tent scene, the boy who wants to show him his father's gun, the hanged ghosts, the angry closet ghost and more.
13. The Pact (2012)
© IFC Midnight
This refreshingly restrained, muted little haunted house tale about a young woman's spooky experience in her childhood home following the death of her mother builds terror within a fascinating mystery as the woman uncovers the secrets in her mother's past.
© Warner Bros.
It's easy to forget how scary this PG-rated movie about a suburban family's house haunting was in its day, especially to little kids with clown dolls in their rooms.
© Lions Gate
If Ringu introduced much of the world to the "yūrei" figure (the long-haired Japanese female ghost), then Ju-on: The Grudge took it to a new level of fear by making her more animalistic, sadistic, unstoppable, irredeemable and really, really clingy.
10. The Innocents (1961)
© 20th Century Fox
Based on the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw, this tale about a governess who comes to believe the two young children she's taking care of are possessed by ghosts, mixes gothic horror trappings with edgy, modern topics of sexuality and abuse while challenging viewers' perceptions of what a haunting is. But regardless of how you interpret it, it's got several genuinely scary scenes.
9. Insidious (2011)
A couple is tormented by ghosts that seem to be targeting their comatose son in this relentless throwback scarefest.
© Warner Bros.
A recent widower (George C. Scott) moves into -- you guessed it -- a spooky old house that turns out to be haunted. In this case, the ghost is a young, sickly boy whose wheelchair and ball lend some classic scares as the man unweaves the tangled, tragic mystery behind the boy's death.