As long as horror movies continue to exist, there will be haunted houses. The basic premise is just too enticing to resist: confine a group of people in a rickety old building, move some furniture, and let the supernatural terror run amok. Typically removed from reality, haunted houses give filmmakers the freedom to go wild as any logical consistency is largely dependent on the creators. There is no limit.


Since the days of 1925’s The Monster and 1927’s The Cat and the Canary, people have been stepping into spooky buildings and scaring millions of viewers in the process. These films are often exciting, terrifying, and creative, and here are the most entertaining or scariest haunted house movies ever.

Updated October 14, 2022 by Mark Sammut: As Halloween is right around the corner, this is the ideal time to visit some haunted houses. Luckily, the movie industry loves a good old Gothic mansion, and quite a few of these flicks are readily available on streaming platforms. In celebration of the spooky season, this article has been expanded to include a few more of the best haunted house movies.

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17/17 House On Haunted Hill (1959)

William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill is a quintessential B-movie. The film takes audiences on a rollercoaster ride of thrills, misdirection, and cheesy but charming special effects.

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The story finds five people summoned to a house by its quirky owner who challenges them to spend the night. Unsurprisingly, the host has more planned than just a social experiment with a price. House on Haunted Hill is not particularly scary, but it is a lot of fun and quite rewatchable.

16/17 Monster House (2006)

Animated horror movies are in short supply, but the 2000s did produce a few standout releases. Monster House delivers exactly what its title advertises, and it is far better than some people might assume. It is not only that the visuals are fittingly creepy, but Monster House also doesn’t fall flat in the character department.

Witty, endearing, and constantly entertaining, Monster House is a great movie for the entire family and a rare example of a haunted house film that children can also enjoy.

15/17 The Uninvited (1944)

Director Lewis Allen
Rotten Tomatoes Score 95%
Where to Stream N/A

One of Hollywood’s earliest haunted house movies, The Uninvited holds up surprisingly well considering its age. The film follows two siblings who purchase a house and come to realize that maybe they have an unwanted guest. Nowadays, this story could not be any more basic, but The Uninvited stands out as its focus is primarily on the mystery driving the supernatural element rather than the scares.

That’s not to say the film is completely lacking in creepy moments, but they are subtle rather than overt. The best haunted house films emphasize the unknown, and The Uninvited excels in this department.

14/17 Insidious (2010)

Director James Wan
Rotten Tomatoes Score 66%
Where to Stream FuboTV, Peacock

Slightly overshadowed by The Conjuring movies, Insidious is arguably the most terrifying series created by James Wan, with the first two entries being especially strong. The 2010 release’s story will sound familiar to any horror fan, as a family moves to a new house where they begin to experience strange events that predominantly center around their son.

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Insidious is intense and unpredictable, and the movie features chilling designs for its villains. For those seeking a modern haunted house movie that is genuinely scary rather than just fun, Insidious is a fantastic pick.

13/17 The Amityville Horror (1979)

Somehow, the phenomenon surrounding the Amityville house has spawned a ridiculous number of horror movies. Most of these films are not worth seeking out, but 1979’s The Amityville Horror has the distinction of being the first to tackle the Lutz family’s reported haunting.

Although quite dated by today’s standards and inconsistently acted even for its time, The Amityville Horror gets by on mystique, cheap thrills, and a few flashes of horror brilliance. Removed from its real-life inspiration, The Amityville Horror is an enjoyable, stereotypical haunted house movie.

12/17 The Orphanage (2007)

Director J. A. Bayona
Rotten Tomatoes Score 87%
Where to Stream Kanopy

A Spanish production that is likely to conjure images of 2001’s The Others, The Orphanage is an expertly-paced thriller that appreciates the power of letting suspense simmer. Rather than rely on frequent bursts of terror, the story lets the tension build as viewers wait for the other foot to drop.

With her husband and son, Laura returns to the orphanage she grew up in so that she can open it to a new generation. Initially, Laura has a fond recollection of her time in the household, but ugly flashes of fragmented memories begin to challenge this perspective. When her son starts to talk with an imaginary friend who feels oddly familiar to Laura, things take a turn for the horrifying.

11/17 The Conjuring (2013)

Director James Wan
Rotten Tomatoes Score 86%
Where to Stream HBO Max

The first in a largely consistent series, James Wan’s The Conjuring takes influence from Ed and Lorraine Warren’s paranormal investigations, which includes the Amityville Horror. 2013’s movie focuses on the Perron family’s experiences at a Rhode Island farmhouse, and The Conjuring’s power rests on its adherence to classic horror tropes. This is a film that could have realistically been produced at any time over the last 40 years.

A master of horror, Wan takes his time in setting up The Conjuring’s characters and story, sprinkling in nuggets of frights en route to an exhilarating and nightmare-inducing final act.

10/17 The Others (2001)

Director Alejandro Amenábar
Rotten Tomatoes Score 84%
Where to Stream N/A

Featuring a strong performance by Nicole Kidman, The Others leaves behind special effects in favor of atmosphere, mystery, and suspense. Grace and her two children live in a country house along with a few attendees, each of who begins to witness strange incidents that indicate another family is haunting the residence.

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The Others moves at quite a meticulous pace and rejects conventional narrative tools such as jump scares, opting to allow the characters to carry the narrative. It works.

9/17 Ghostwatch (1992)

Director Lesley Manning
Rotten Tomatoes Score N/A
Where to Stream N/A

Showmanship is essential when it comes to horror films, or really any genre. BBC’s Ghostwatch might be the greatest example of a project’s presentation heightening its impact. Shot like a documentary and broadcast on Halloween as a live screening, Ghostwatch follows three BBC reporters as they look into a supposedly haunted house.

Initially, the reporters believe this case is a hoax, an assumption that weakens as the broadcast continues. Realistically shot, inventive, and terrifying when the horror really gets going, Ghostwatch is a work of art.

8/17 The Haunting (1963)

Director Robert Wise
Rotten Tomatoes Score 87%
Where to Stream DirectTV, TCM

Not to be confused with the inferior 1999 remake, The Haunting is a classic psychological horror movie set in a contender for the genre’s greatest haunted house. Hugh Crain’s Hill House is a Gothic masterpiece; a sprawling mansion defined by off-kilter furniture and unnatural architecture. Every room of this building has a tragic story to tell, and the film does an admirable job of making Hill House feel like a living entity.

Thematically, The Haunting tackles depression, guilt, and latent sexuality, all risky topics considering when the film came out.

7/17 House (1986)

Not to be confused with the 1977 Japanese film with the same name, which is also brilliant, 1986’s House is a lighthearted roller-coaster ride that is more preoccupied with entertaining rather than terrifying audiences. An author moves into his deceased aunt’s estate to write a book and perhaps exorcise an inner demon or two; unfortunately for Roger, this therapeutic event proves to be literal rather than metaphorical.

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Delightfully campy, House and its immediate sequel are fun for the whole family, something not many horror movies can claim.

6/17 The Legend Of Hell House (1973)

Director John Hough
Rotten Tomatoes Score 64%
Where to Stream N/A

A physicist, his wife, and two mediums head to the Belasco House in search of spirits and a paycheck. After everything is said and done, they won’t all be walking out. The Legend of Hell House is a quintessential haunted house flick, albeit one that complements its spooky poltergeist-esque scares with a serviceable mystery and a great deal of tension between its human characters.

A crowd pleaser, The Legend of Hell House is a safe pick for any Halloween watch party, especially for those who have yet to experience the Belasco House’s terror.

5/17 The Innocents (1961)

Director Jack Clayton
Rotten Tomatoes Score 95%
Where to Stream N/A

An adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents is a meticulously paced horror film about a governess, Miss Giddens, who begins to suspect that she might be in a haunted estate. She also believes her charges, two children, are the targets of the ghosts.

The Innocents comes laced with subtext revolving around repression and isolation, so there is a lot more going on here than just creepy children and an atmospheric set. Even if that element is ignored, a stellar haunted house movie still remains.

4/17 House (1977)

1977’s House throws caution to the wind as it puts aside anything resembling reason in favor of pure creative madness. Schoolgirls head to a country home to spend the summer with one of the student’s aunts. It proves to be a not-so-relaxing trip.

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House is bizarre in the most entertaining way. Blending comedy with effective horror, this Japanese film captures the feeling of living in a fever dream that happens to have a craving for death.

3/17 Poltergeist (1982)

Director Tobe Hooper
Rotten Tomatoes Score 87%
Where to Stream HBO Max

Bringing together the talents of Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist’s genre-defining special effects set it apart from its contemporaries at the time of its release. While the visuals hold up well, the story is where the film’s strengths truly lie. Too many horror movies fail to match their supernatural threats with human characters who audiences genuinely wish to see survive; thankfully, Poltergeist does not have this issue.

The Freelings are put through hell as their home explodes with poltergeist activity, culminating in an iconic final sequence.

2/17 The Shining (1980)

Director Stanley Kubrick
Rotten Tomatoes Score 82%
Where to Stream HBO Max

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining follows Jack Torrance and his family as they move into the empty Overlook Hotel for the winter. The isolation begins to get to Jack, causing the father to grow progressively more unhinged and violent. Also, the hotel appears to be haunted, which does little to aid Jack’s state of mind.

Rivers of blood, ghostly bartenders, and iconic twins aside, The Shining keeps its supernatural events sporadic, leaving it up to the audience to decide whether Jack is hallucinating some of the hotel’s strangeness.

1/17 The Changeling (1980)

George C. Scott, a wheelchair, and a gripping murder mystery, The Changeling is the definitive haunted house movie. The idea is simple: a composer moves into a mansion, weird things start to happen, and a disgruntled spirit must be avenged. The plot might not hold all that much in the way of surprises, but The Changeling stands out for one specific thing: its protagonist, John Russell, brings level-headed maturity to the story that grounds the supernatural incidents peppered throughout the film.

The Changeling’s Victorian house is effective and creepy, a pitch-perfect pick for a haunted house setting.

MORE: The Best Horror Movies Of The 2010s (According To IMDB)

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