With so many famous and popular haunted house horror movies, from The Others (2001) to Poltergeist (1982), it can be hard to get excited about a film with this setting. How many times can horror fans watch characters moving into a new house that turns out to have evil spirits living there?
But while this storyline can be old and tired, there are many underrated films that take this idea and run with it in a compelling and creative way. From an old mansion where strangers are staying for one night to a haunted house on Halloween, these movie settings are legitimately scary.
House On Haunted Hill is a great ’90s horror movie that holds up. Instead of featuring characters who live in beautiful but crumbling homes that hold spirits and secrets, the movie is about a group who enter a mysterious contest. If they can survive one night in a mansion, which used to be a mental hospital, they will win a ton of money.
There is an art to a jump scare and the film uses them well, as the characters learn more about the building’s history and realize that they will definitely be lucky if they can make it out alive. The movie definitely still offers up some major scares.
Elizabeth Olsen’s beloved MCU role as Scarlet Witch has brought her lots of fame, and before signing onto Marvel projects, Olsen starred in the 2011 horror film Silent House. Olsen’s debut movie was shot in a single take and it’s a good example of this style of filmmaking, which can feel confusing and lackluster.
Olsen revisits her childhood home only to learn that it seems to be haunted as her character, Sarah, believes that there is someone dangerous in the house who is chasing her and who wants her dead. The movie has a surprising conclusion, a good performance from Olsen, and it will stick with viewers. Since it’s shot in one take, Silent House is more interesting than most similar movies.
haunt has a great horror movie setting and stands out from other films about haunted houses. While many movies tell stories of families moving into old homes that have secrets and evil spirits who never want to leave, haunt is about a group of friends going to a creepy old building on Halloween night, ready for what they assume will be a fun and entertaining evening. Instead, they find themselves being attacked by the employees, who wear clown masks and are hiding their own deformed faces.
The main character, Harper (Katie Stevens), comes to terms with her abusive upbringing as she fights for survival inside of this haunted house. She is also working through the emotions of being in a terrible relationship. The film’s title works in several different ways, referring to a haunted house but also to what Harper has been through.
You Should Have Left is a unique haunted house movie as Theo (Kevin Bacon) realizes that he has come to a vacation home for a reason: to deal with the demons of his past and to stay there forever. Theo’s wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) is haunted in her own way, as she has been having an affair and as she has always wondered about the mysterious way that Theo’s previous wife passed away. Theo and Susanna discover a lot about themselves during what was meant to be a fun, peaceful and relaxing family vacation.
One of the best horror movies from 2020, the film sticks out as it’s about an eerie, evil home that attracts people who have done horrible things in their lives. While at first it seems like Theo has seen a ghost, it turns out that he is even worse than any spirit. The vacation rental is one of the most compelling horror movie settings as Theo realizes that there is a reason why he was called to stay there.
Things Heard & Seen offers another take on the haunted house story. This time, Catherine Claire (Amanda Seyfried) and her husband George Claire (James Norton) move to a house in the gorgeous countryside. Catherine is haunted by the pain of her eating disorder and as she realizes that their new home has a supernatural presence, she learns how horrible her husband is.
While there are many tired haunted house movie cliches, Things Heard & Seen feels fresh and creative. It’s easy to become invested in Catherine and hope for the best for her, and it’s clear that this is a very toxic marriage that should never have happened in the first place. Catherine feels totally trapped in her house and in her relationship and audiences are on the edge of their seats the entire time.
NEXT: 5 Memorable Haunted House Movie Quotes