A well-made ghost or haunted house movie can be truly terrifying. Unfortunately, many fall short and don’t do nearly as good a job at scaring you as they do at making you laugh. What are some of the scariest, most unsettling ghost stories that genuinely succeed at haunting you during the film…and long after the ending credits roll? Here are a few classic ghost stories that pass the scare test.
The Changeling (1980)
George C. Scott plays John Russell, a man who moves to a creepy old house in Seattle after his wife and child die in an accident. He soon discovers that the house is haunted by the ghost of a murdered boy, who also happens to be linked to a prominent political family. The ghost goes to great effort to persuade John to look into the murder, which reveals lots of surprises about what really happened in the family years ago. The Changeling features a famously creepy haunted wheelchair you won’t soon forget.
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
A must-see for fans of writer-director Guillermo del Toro’s more well-known horror films. This Spanish-language film is set in a creepy orphanage for boys during the Spanish Civil War in 1939. An orphan named Carlos sets out to find the ghost of a boy said to haunt the orphanage. Turns out the ghost is real, and his murderer is still around. It’s never too late to avenge the murder of an innocent child.
The Awakening (2011)
A home for boys is also the setting for this British ghost story (set in the 1920s) about a paranormal researcher who investigates the presence of a boy’s ghost at a boarding school. The investigator, a woman named Florence, discovers that a lonely student at the school named Tom is actually the ghost. Get ready for some crazy revelations about the relationship between Florence and the ghost.
Lady in White (1988)
A successful horror writer tells a story from his past. As a young boy, he is locked in a school cloak room by his classmates back in the 1960s. While locked in the room, he sees the ghost of a little girl who re-enacts her own murder. She continues to haunt him and recreate her moment of death, leading the boy to investigate a series of unsolved child murders…and a killer who is still very close to home.
The Haunting (1963)
Considered by many horror fans to be one of the best ghost stories ever, this British classic is based on the Shirley Jackson novel The Haunting of Hill House. A group of paranormal researchers stay at a creepy old house with a dark past that is believed to be haunted. They soon discover lots of eerie goings on in the house, especially around the old nursery. One troubled investigator named Eleanor gets particularly caught up in the house’s horror.