17 of the Creepiest Horror Movies About Ghosts

Today we’re diving into the spine-chilling realm of classic horror with ghost stories, a timeless sub-genre that has continued to haunt fans for decades. The best ghost stories linger in our minds long after the movie ends. In this post, I’ve compiled a list of some of the top ghost horror films that I think are worth a watch for big fans of the sub-genre. This is a very diverse list, as the ghost subgenre is not quite as simple as it sounds — many of them never use the word ghost and some may be more appropriately described as possession or paranormal films. But I do think they all fit in some way and I hope that you can takeaway a few that you may not have heard of or considered before.

The Conjuring (2013)

Directed by James Wan, this spine-chilling ghost story revolves around paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. The couple is called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. As they delve into the supernatural occurrences, they confront a malevolent force that puts their own lives at risk. Wan’s masterful direction and the stellar performances make “The Conjuring” a modern classic in the horror genre.

The Others (2001)

Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, The Others is a gothic horror masterpiece. Set in a dark, isolated mansion, the story follows Grace Stewart, played by the legendary Nicole Kidman, who believes her house is haunted. As strange occurrences unfold, Grace becomes increasingly paranoid. The film’s atmospheric tension, coupled with Kidman’s compelling performance, keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. The Others is a haunting exploration of fear and the unknown.

Thirteen Ghosts (2001)

One of my personal favorites, Thirteen Ghosts was Directed by Steve Beck and stars Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Lillard, and Shannon Elizabeth. The plot revolves around a family that inherits an elaborate glass mansion with a dark secret: it traps vengeful ghosts. As they navigate the labyrinthine house to unravel its mysteries, the family encounters terrifying spirits. Despite mixed reviews, Thirteen Ghosts is often celebrated for its terrifying and violent kills. The film’s unique ghost lore, coupled with Beck’s visual flair, makes it a cult favorite among horror fans. While not without flaws, the movie’s supernatural elements and haunted-house premise contribute to its status as a solid modern horror flick.

Insidious (2010)

Helmed by James Wan yet again, “Insidious” is a haunted-house tale with a unique twist. When their son falls into a mysterious coma, a family discovers that malevolent spirits are trying to take over his body. Starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as the distressed parents, this film delivers a tense and atmospheric experience, blending psychological horror with supernatural elements. Wan’s ability to create suspenseful scenes and memorable scares is evident throughout the film.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, “The Sixth Sense” is a psychological horror film that became a cultural phenomenon. Starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, the story centers on a young boy who claims to see and communicate with the dead. As a child psychologist, played by Willis, tries to help him, they uncover a deeply emotional and haunting secret. Shyamalan’s signature twist ending and the exceptional performances make “The Sixth Sense” a classic in the ghostly thriller genre.

A Ghost Story (2017)

Although it’s more of a drama, A Ghost Story is creepy enough to earn a spot on this list. Directed by David Lowery, the movie takes a unique and contemplative approach to the ghost genre. Starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, the film follows a deceased man who becomes a silent observer of the world he left behind. Lowery’s slow-paced, meditative storytelling and the poignant exploration of time and loss set this ghost tale apart, offering a hauntingly beautiful and thought-provoking experience.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

Paranormal Activity, directed by Oren Peli, is a groundbreaking ghost horror film that captivated audiences with its innovative approach. The movie, featuring relatively unknown actors Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, follows a young couple as they attempt to document a series of unsettling events in their home. Set up as found footage from security cameras, the film builds tension through subtle, eerie occurrences, creating a sense of dread. What sets “Paranormal Activity” apart is its simplicity, relying on psychological scares rather than elaborate effects. The natural performances and relatable setting enhance the authenticity, drawing viewers into the chilling narrative. The movie’s low-budget success and ability to evoke genuine fear without elaborate visuals make it one of the best in the ghost horror genre, leaving a lasting impact on the landscape of modern horror cinema.

Dark Water (2002)

Directed by Hideo Nakata, “Dark Water” is a Japanese horror film that delves into supernatural horror and psychological tension. The story revolves around a divorced mother and her daughter who move into a run-down apartment plagued by mysterious water leaks. As they attempt to unravel the unsettling secrets of the building, they become entangled in a ghostly mystery. Nakata’s direction, known for his work on “Ringu,” adds a sense of impending dread to this atmospheric and emotionally charged ghost story.

Stir of Echoes (1999)

Directed by David Koepp, “Stir of Echoes” stars Kevin Bacon as a man who begins experiencing paranormal phenomena after being hypnotized at a party. As he becomes obsessed with uncovering the mystery behind the haunting visions, he uncovers dark secrets within his community. Koepp’s film skillfully combines supernatural elements with psychological depth, delivering a gripping and thought-provoking ghost story.

The Orphanage (2007)

Directed by J.A. Bayona and produced by Guillermo del Toro, “The Orphanage” is a Spanish horror film that blends supernatural horror with emotional depth. The story follows a woman who returns to her childhood home, an orphanage, with her family. Strange occurrences lead her to investigate the tragic history of the place. Bayona’s direction, coupled with Belén Rueda’s powerful performance, makes “The Orphanage” a haunting exploration of grief and the lingering impact of the past.

Talk to Me (2022)

Directed by Danny and Michael Philippou, starring an ensemble cast including Sophie Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto, and Zoe Terakes, this modern gem stands out as one of the best horror movies of the last decade. The plot revolves around a group of friends who stumble upon a spine-chilling party game involving an embalmed hand that unleashes supernatural forces. With heavy suspense, creepy visuals, and unexpected twists, the film kept me on the edge of my seat. The Philippou duo skillfully crafts an atmosphere of dread. If you love ghost horror movies and you haven’t seen Talk to Me, what are you doing? Go watch it!

The Black Phone (2021)

Directed by Scott Derrickson, “The Black Phone” is a gripping ghost horror film released in 2021. The movie stars Ethan Hawke as a sinister abductor known as The Grabber. Based on a short story by Joe Hill, the plot revolves around a young boy, played by Mason Thames, who is kidnapped by The Grabber and finds himself trapped in a soundproof basement with an old, disconnected phone. As the boy discovers a working phone line that connects to the spirit world, he seeks help from the ghosts of The Grabber’s victims. The film is lauded for its atmospheric tension, Hawke’s compelling performance, and Derrickson’s skillful direction. “The Black Phone” is celebrated as one of the best ghost horror movies, offering a chilling blend of supernatural elements and psychological terror.

Veronica (2017)

“Veronica,” directed by Paco Plaza, is a Spanish ghost horror film released in 2017. The movie stars Sandra Escacena as Veronica, a teenage girl who, along with her friends, attempts to summon the spirit of her deceased father using a Ouija board. However, the seance goes awry, leading to paranormal disturbances that escalate in intensity. Plaza, known for his work in the “[REC]” series, creates a chilling atmosphere by blending supernatural elements with psychological horror. Sandra Escacena’s convincing performance adds emotional depth to the story. “Veronica” is hailed as one of the best ghost horror movies due to its effective scares, engrossing narrative, and the tension it builds throughout. The film’s ability to evoke genuine fear and its unique approach to the genre contribute to its reputation among horror enthusiasts.

The Shining (1980)

Directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick, “The Shining” is a timeless masterpiece in the horror genre. Starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, the film follows the Torrance family as they become caretakers of the isolated Overlook Hotel during the winter. Jack Torrance, portrayed by Nicholson, descends into madness due to the hotel’s supernatural influences, putting his family in peril. Kubrick’s meticulous direction and Nicholson’s iconic performance contribute to the film’s lasting impact. “The Shining” stands out as one of the best ghost horror movies for its psychological depth, eerie atmosphere, and unforgettable imagery. The film skillfully blends supernatural elements with the unraveling psyche of its characters, creating an unsettling and enduring cinematic experience that continues to captivate and terrify audiences. It’s a must-watch for any horror enthusiast seeking a classic and genuinely haunting film.

Last Night In SoHo (2021)

“Last Night in Soho,” directed by Edgar Wright, stars Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy. This psychological horror-thriller follows Eloise, a young fashion student who mysteriously time-travels to 1960s London, experiencing the dazzling yet ominous nightlife. As she becomes entangled with her idol, played by Taylor-Joy, Eloise discovers dark secrets and a ghostly presence. Wright’s visually stunning direction, combined with a compelling narrative and strong performances, establishes “Last Night in Soho” as one of the best ghost horror movies. The film masterfully blends stylish visuals, a haunting atmosphere, and a gripping storyline, creating an immersive and chilling cinematic experience for horror enthusiasts.

Crimson Peak (2015)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Crimson Peak features Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain. The film is a visually stunning gothic romance with ghostly elements. Edith, played by Wasikowska, marries the charming yet mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe, portrayed by Hiddleston, and moves into his decaying mansion. As dark secrets unravel, Edith encounters vengeful spirits haunting the estate. Del Toro’s masterful storytelling, coupled with lavish production design, establishes “Crimson Peak” as one of the best ghost horror movies. It seamlessly blends supernatural horror, a gripping plot, and captivating visuals, creating a hauntingly beautiful cinematic experience for horror enthusiasts.

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary, directed by Ari Aster, stars Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, and Milly Shapiro. The film follows the Graham family as they face sinister secrets after the death of the mysterious grandmother. Toni Collette’s powerful performance as the grief-stricken mother and the eerie atmosphere crafted by Aster contribute to the film’s chilling impact. “Hereditary” is considered one of the best ghost horror movies due to its intense psychological scares, unsettling imagery, and a narrative that dives into the supernatural. Aster’s unique storytelling and the outstanding cast make this horror gem a must-watch for those seeking a spine-tingling experience.

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