The 13 Best Haunted House Movies And Where To Watch Them

The house from The Amityville Horror
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Everything that I every needed to know about house hunting, I learned from horror movies. Specifically, films such as the Conjuring movies, for instance, taught me to never move into (let alone step foot inside) the site of any previous deaths or satanic rituals, the former location of a cemetery, or anything else that will significantly lower the market value. Of course, some of the best haunted house movies now available on streaming, for digital rental, or purchase on physical media, are not so faithful to that rule, as you will see in the following list of our favorite examples of residential horror, which begins with an aforementioned, modern classic of the sub-genre. 

Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring.

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Conjuring (2013)

A family of five calls on the help of a couple of married paranormal researchers to help them rid their new Rhode Island home of the incessant and seemingly evil presence tormenting them in the early 1970s.  

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: Insidious star Patrick Wilson and Academy Award nominee Vera Farmiga play the real-life, famed demonology experts Ed and Lorraine Warren, whose own case files (the validity of which remains up for debate) inspired director James Wan’s The Conjuring, which saw something of a revival for the old school haunted house genre and the birth of one of Hollywood’s most enduring horror movie franchises today.

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Margot Kidder and James Brolin in The Amityville Horror

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Amityville Horror (1979)

A land surveyor (James Brolin), his new wife (Margot Kidder), and their three children move into a large Long Island estate despite its deadly history, believing it to be the home of their dreams, only to find themselves living a nightmare.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: One of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s most famous cases involved the true events that inspired Jay Anson’s book The Amityville Horror, which director Stuart Rosenberg’s adapted into one the most essential and influential examples of the modern haunted house film, that would also inspire a lengthy franchise and a 2005 remake.

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Heather O'Rourke in Poltergeist

(Image credit: MGM)

Poltergeist (1982)

A real estate developer (Craig T. Nelson), his wife (JoBeth Williams), and their three children suddenly find themselves living a nightmare as malevolent spirits invade their longtime home and kidnap their youngest daughter (the late Heather O’Rourke).

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: Instead of borrowing from any strange crimes or alleged paranormal case files, producer and co-writer Steven Spielberg and director Tobe Hooper of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame looked to their own personal fears as inspiration for 1982’s Poltergeist - a masterpiece in supernatural terror grounded by JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson’s authentic performances.

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William Katt in House

(Image credit: New World Pictures)

House (1985)

A Vietnam War veteran (William Katt) who has made a successful living writing horror novels finds his life is suddenly imitating his art when he inherits his late aunt’s former home, which happens to already be inhabited by some unfriendly (and undead) tenants.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: Another classic ‘80s horror movie that offers a funnier take on the haunted house sub-genre is House - not to be confused with the medical drama starring Hugh Laurie - which earns a spot among the finest horror-comedy movies for its cartoonish bursts of gore and Cheers cast member George Wendt’s scene-stealing supporting role.

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The cast of The Haunting (1963)

(Image credit: MGM)

The Haunting (1963)

A psychologist invites an insecure loner, a provocative clairvoyant, and a young skeptic to stay with him inside a large, luxurious New England estate in the hope of proving whether or not it truly does house spirits.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: None of these films might have existed without the influence of director Robert Wise’s chilling, gothic, psychological thriller The Haunting - the earliest of adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s iconic novel that would later serve as a loose inspiration for Mike Flanagan’s acclaimed Netflix miniseries The Haunting of Hill House.

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The couple on Paranormal Activity.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Paranormal Activity (2009)

A man (Micah Sloat) sets up cameras where he and his girlfriend (Katie Featherston) live in the hope of disproving her suspicions that their home does have spirits, only to find evidence of the opposite.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: The trend of found footage thrillers might not have become as popular if not for the success of Paranormal Activity - writer, editor, producer, and director Oren Peli’s debut that cleverly taps into common paranoid thoughts before curdling into more extreme horrors, all with the use of atmospheric tension and a shoestring budget.

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The Lake Mungo cast

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Lake Mungo (2008)

While interviewed by a documentary film crew, a family recalls the strange, unexplainable phenomena they began to experience shortly after their teenage daughter was found dead by drowning in Australia.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: Another mockumentary style modern favorite, but one that is far more underrated than the Paranormal Activity movies, is Lake Mungo - the sole feature-length film written and directed by Joel Anderson (who would go on to be a script editor for Netflix’s Clickbait) and a far more sophisticated, arresting, and perfectly acted ghost story than you would ever expect from a film that premiered at the After Dark Horrorfest.

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The clown from Hell House LLC

(Image credit: Terror Films)

Hell House LLC (2015)

The young owners of a business specializing in scares are unwittingly in for the scare of their lives when they begin to suspect that the abandoned hotel they chose for their latest haunted house attraction is an actual haunted house.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: Another sorely underrated found footage movie, which is also my all-time personal favorite of the sub-genre, is Hell House LLC - the first of a trilogy from writer and director Stephen Cognetti with an inventive blend of amateur style footage with professional documentary-style cinematography that results in a frightening exercise in slow-building, thoroughly engrossing dread.

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The creepy kid from The Orphanage

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Orphanage (2007)

A woman (Belén Rueda) returns with her husband (Fernando Cayo) to the former home for orphaned children that she used to live at to raise their adopted son (Roger Príncep), but his claims of making a new friend and other unexplainable occurrences lead her suspect that they are not alone.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: From A Monster Calls director J.A. Bayona and producer Guillermo del Toro, The Orphanage is a gothic, Spanish-language supernatural tale that will stick with you long after the credits role, especially if the creepy kids trope still manages to get under your skin.

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Ethan Hawke in Sinister

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Sinister (2012)

Desperate to put out another bestseller, a washed-up true crime writer (Ethan Hawke) moves his family into the site of a horrifying murder where, upon further researching the case, he finds it has a strange connection to other, grisly crimes that lead him to fear for him and his family’s own safety.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: The creepy kid trope is also used to great effect in Sinister - perhaps co-writer and director Scott Derrickson’s most terrifying film yet that also saw the beginning of Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke’s reign as a modern horror icon - but what really makes the supernatural mystery thriller an instant classic is the increasingly disturbing 8mm reels through which Hawke’s character learns the bizarre truth behind his new house’s deadly history.

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Jack Nicholson in The Shining

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Shining (1980)

Hoping to find the solitude he needs to put out another bestseller, a writer and recovering alcoholic (Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson) moves his family into a luxurious Colorado hotel where they will act as caretakers for the winter, but the seclusion proves to have a violent effect on the author as his uniquely gifted son falls prey to a series of foreboding visions.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: Writer and director Stanley Kubrick’s iconic adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 novel The Shining is not just a classic haunted house movie but is considered to be one of the best horror movies ever (if not the all-time best) for Jack Nicholson’s unbelievable grim performance and its dizzying, surreal, and paralyzing imagery that continues to puzzle fans to this day.

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Joseph Bishara and Patrick Wilson in Insidious

(Image credit: FilmDistrict)

Insidious (2011)

A school teacher (Patrick Wilson) and his wife (Rose Byrne) move their family into a new house, where they begin to fall prey to a series of startling and strange intrusions after their oldest son (Ty Simpkins) suddenly and inexplicably falls into a coma.

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: The aforementioned The Conjuring may be the more popular James Wan flick and Saw may be his most iconic collaboration with writer Leigh Whannell, but Insidious is easily my favorite film from the duo for its indelible, otherworldly visuals and clever twist on the haunted house genre, being that the house itself is not what is haunted.

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Sam Lerner and Mitchell Musso in Monster House

(Image credit: Sony)

Monster House (2006)

An imaginative boy (Mitchell Musso), his best friend (Sam Lerner), and a prep school girl (Spencer Locke) try to save their neighborhood from the creepy house across the street after it somehow comes to life following the supposed death of its cantankerous owner (Steve Buscemi).

Why it is one of the best haunted house movies: A rare kind of film that is suitable for younger audiences but creepy enough to qualify as a bonafide horror movie is the animated, Academy Award nominated hit Monster House - which was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis and offers another clever twist on the haunted genre, being that it is not the house that is haunted, but that the house itself that is haunting.

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Monster House actually raises an interesting question of what is scarier: a house inhabited by spirits that are a danger to anyone who enters it or a house possessed by a spirit that is a danger to anyone merely standing nearby? Hopefully, watching these 13 classics will be the only way you will need to find out the answer for yourself.