Best Paranormal Movies For A Chilling Experience
There are some things none of us would like to experience in real life. For instance, ominous faces right beside us in a mirror, doors and windows slamming shut, apparitions of malevolent entities in our rooms, and weird noises in our walls - just to name a few. Yet, we gladly watch those very same things on the silver screen in the safety and comfort of our homes, delighted to be positively creeped out. And, without a doubt, it is the safest way to get an adrenaline rush without any genuine concern about your health. That is, if you exclude the possibility of a sleepless night or two. So, for those ready to be frightened, we present our list of the best paranormal movies! However, watch them at your own responsibility - you have been warned!
From sinister ghosts to malicious apparitions and everything in between, these horror movies are the creme de la creme of the genre. Some of them are slow burns playing on the ever-building suspense that electrifies your nerves, like Hereditary and The Shining. While others pull you right in, leaving no possible escape such as The Autopsy Of Jane Doe or The Conjuring. And no matter which style you like more, you’ll find the scariest paranormal movie on our list. All there’s left to do is to scroll down below, check out the horror movies featured and pick your poison for the evening. Don’t forget to tell us which of these scary films you’ve seen and liked the most and would recommend to your horror-loving peers.
You know what’s more terrifying than even the best horror movie? A horror movie based on a real, definitely undeniably true story. Yup, Ed and Lorraine Warren are real, and so is the possessed Perron family. And even if you can distance yourself from the fact that this sort of weird stuff can happen to you, The Conjuring is nonetheless horrifying. Filled with old-school horrors and minimum CGI effects, this horror movie will creep up on you heavier and heavier with each minute. A paranormal movie that’ll surely scare even a seasoned horror fan.
Astral travel already sounds like a dangerous thing to be capable of, and such a premise pays off big time in Insidious. But add that ability to a seemingly comatose boy, and it gets a whole lot scarier. Malevolent spirits, unexplained happenings, and an uncharted territory inhabited by tortured souls make this horror movie a truly terrifying watch.
While most movies are written based on an idea that the writer got while fully conscious, Sinister was directly inspired by a nightmare its writer got after watching The Ring. And if you’ve ever had a truly chilling dream, you know how scary it would be to see it on a big screen in your waking hours. Paralyzing shocks and diabolical twists make Sinister a movie you just might wish to unsee.
To expand our knowledge about movie production, we’ve talked to Tadas Vaitmonas - a freelance producer working with movies, documentaries, commercials, and music videos. You can see his awesome portfolio by checking out his business website - nomountain.tv. So, let’s start our interview by asking Tadas how he ended up being a movie producer. Was it a love for cinema or maybe just an opportunity that came along?
“It was an absolute lucky chance. I had just graduated from Physics and decided to take some undefined amount of time off and travel around. After vagabonding for several months in the Middle East, I ran out of money, and winter was coming. So coming back to Lithuania seemed the most logical solution to me. Once back here, I was simply looking for a job, literally, the first “real” job in my life (and even now, I always say that I haven’t had one yet). I had worked a bit in media and TV before and had some friends working in various departments at that time. So I took a chance and sent a couple of dozens of emails to various producers. One week later, I got hired as an office assistant on a feature film. That’s how it all started.”
The Exorcist III
Filming marked with accidents and release riddled with controversies and even riots; The Exorcist made a grand entrance into the movie industry history. And if you haven’t seen it already, here’s the plot in its basics - The Exorcist follows a twelve-year-old girl that has been possessed by a demon and needs it to be expelled. With such a sure-shot horrifying premise, great acting, and severe shocks throughout, The Exorcist is still one of the best paranormal horror movies after some 50 years of its release.
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist
A second installment in The Conjuring series, this movie follows the same paranormal investigators that we’re already acquainted with Ed and Lorraine Warren. This time they’re headed to England to dig deeper into a poltergeist case. Once again, we get to see old-school horror tricks done in a fresh and unnerving way, raising our hair and tingling our spines.
Meet the Freeling family - happily married and with three kids; they move into a planned community with nothing but a charming suburban life ahead. And if it seems that nothing could go wrong, it turns out that they’re living right above a burial ground. Magnificently written, praised for its filming, and consistently frightening, the 1983 Poltergeist is considered a paranormal horror classic.
Discovering your passion or, at least, a preferred line of work is on a lot of our bucket lists. And, see, it’s entirely possible! So, to dig deeper into this part of the movie industry, we’ve followed up with our traditional question that gives us a glimpse of a day in a professional’s life. So, what does it look like working as a producer?
“Ooof, that’s hard to put into a frame, but let’s try...First of all, it varies depending on the kind of project: there is a massive difference from commercial to feature, to documentary, to corporate, etc. Also, the work specifics purely depend on the stage of a project at sales, pitching, prep, shoot, or wrapping. To me, the most boring one is shooting because if you’re a reasonable producer, 95% of the work is done during the prep stage. In general, a Producer is somebody who works at all of the stages: from finding partners to budgeting and pitching to crew hire and prepping, to overlooking the shoots, to wrapping up and preparing reports.”
All of the horror movies based on Japanese or Korean originals are bound to be blood-soaked, demonic, and should come with a warning. And that’s precisely the case with The Ring - remember the cursed video and the seven-day note? If not - give The Ring a shot, but for the love of all that’s great, don’t watch it alone in the dark.
What do you get pairing the works of one of the best horror writers (Stephen King) and the ingenious movie-making talent (Stanley Kubrick)? The Shining - in all its gory glory with blood rivers, creepy twins, and a call for murder. Oh, and don’t forget about the gold old burial ground under a hotel that’s right in the middle of a very desolate nowhere. A not-so-typical horror movie, The Shining will give you a couple of sleepless nights nonetheless and a looming suspicion about your significant other’s mental health state.
We had thrilling movies, shocking ones, and now it’s time for one with a plain cruel plot twist right at the end. And though Nicole Kidman isn’t an actress usually associated with horror, she does such a convincing job in The Others that it keeps our hair raised for days. No jump scares here, though, but terrorizing suspense and a looming malevolent something always close by.
“To me, each day and each project differs, even if I am producing only commercials. Long story short, as a Producer, I am responsible for the organizational and financial parts of the project. Most of the time, I am also partly responsible for the creative execution and reporting to clients or investors. So I have to oversee all the departments, thus I need to have at least basic knowledge of all the elements of the shoot: direction, art, casting, wardrobe and makeup, camera, lights & grip, special effects, stunts, cars, transportation, and logistics, accounting, etc. Of course, I always have people assisting me with bigger projects and covering some parts for me: Production Manager, Production Coordinator, and Production Assistants.”
A Nightmare On Elm Street
Our list wouldn’t be complete without such a classic paranormal slasher horror as A Nightmare On Elm Street. Right from the first minute, you’re haunted by dark mystery, actual unexplained slashings, and just good old terror occupying the space in your veins. And to make it even better, there’s no happy ending for A Nightmare On Elm Street - that alone will horrify you long after the movie has ended.
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
Another movie on our list that’s based on a real story. A story so heartbreaking that I do not even dare to repeat and will leave the job for The Exorcism Of Emily Rose. Set at a trial of a priest blamed for negligent homicide, the movie creeps out its viewers through flashbacks, building suspense very thoroughly as it goes on. And though there are plenty of exorcism-based horror movies, this one breaks the rules with original story-telling.
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe
After an inexplicable murder, the pristine corpse of a woman is sent to a father and son coroner team for an autopsy. And right at that moment, everything that could go wrong does go wrong. Full of tension and leaving no escape plans for our heroes, The Autopsy Of Jane Doe does a great job of scaring the bejesus out of anybody who’s watching.
Loads to know, and loads to get your head wrapped around! Sounds like a very fast-paced profession, doesn’t it? Lastly, we’ve asked Tadas for advice to those wishing to start a career in the movie industry. That is, if after reading Tadas’ description of his day didn’t scare you off with its intricacies. So, now, for a word from a professional:
a) Choose a department: think about what you like the most. If you are not familiar with the departments, ask around.
b) Always start as an assistant or trainee, the lowest part of the chain. Thus, you don’t get big responsibilities and have a chance to observe the workflow and ethics, and make up your mind if "this is for you.”
c) Get ready to work hard long hours and always live in uncertainty.
d) Send emails to heads of departments or ask around - the industry is based on freelance professionals, so the job market is very dynamic. As a result, there is always a need for smart, motivated people with good common sense.
e) There are programs run by Production unions for those who want to start but don’t know how - check those out; there’s probably one in your area.
We thank Tadas for giving us some of his time and sharing such great insights about working in this industry. Hopefully, you’ve learned something new, and your aspirations of becoming a part of movies are even stronger after reading this interview. But, for now, scroll down below and check out the rest of the paranormal movies to watch!
If you’ve ever had a dream in which you were trapped in a room with weird things happening and no escape, you already know that 1408 will be frightening. Based on Stephen King’s short story of the same name, this paranormal horror movie is one of the best adaptations of this master writer’s works. And if everything seems relatively benign and dream-like at the beginning, just wait - the fear will creep in unnoticed and unannounced.
Insidious: Chapter 2
A sequel to 2010’s Insidious, this second chapter (or fourth in terms of the series’ in-story chronology) follows Josh and Renai Lambert as they seek to uncover secrets of the spirit world further. And though this premise might seem kind of bland, it’s nothing but - getting your life together while fighting your possessed spouse and malevolent spirits is a chilly, to say the least, experience.
Somehow, the horror always gets more horrific when kids are involved, especially when the said kid is Antichrist. And though later on, The Omen had many spin-offs and remakes, nothing beats the 1976 original paranormal horror movie. Riddled with menacing signs and ominous deaths right from the beginning, The Omen, with its iron-clad plot and stellar acting, surely found its spot in the horror movies hall of fame.
Rosemary’s Baby, directed by the ill-fated Roman Polanski, follows Rosemary Woodhouse on her nerve-racking pregnancy that’s giving her suspicions of being groomed to bear an Antichrist baby. It’s tense, it’s horrifying, and you just cannot help yourself but feel incredibly concerned about the movie’s heroine. Up to this day, 1968 Rosemary’s Baby is considered the best horror movie ever made.
Filled with supernatural and mundane miseries, The Grudge is not really a ‘fun’ horror experience. But, it’s scary, it’s artsy, and it will leave you horrified and even slightly depressed. As the fourth installment in the American Grudge series, this one is still as gory and scary as its predecessors. And if after this rendition of The Grudge, your thirst for horror is still insatiable, a crossover sequence is in talks.
The Amityville Horror
Based on a real story involving a mass murderer and a haunted house, The Amityville Horror follows the Lutz family battling paranormal entities in their newly acquired (and very possessed) house. And you know, we all consider our homes to be safe places, but when the establishment itself takes a demonic turn, running is your only answer.
The fright is in the wait and not in the things that are actually happening. If you disagree with the last sentence, just try watching Paranormal Activity - a movie shot on a home video camera with extended periods of total silence - and it might just change your mind. After watching it, even the most mundane things might start raising suspicions, if not terrify you.
Evil Dead is a bloody, gory, and brutally terrorizing paranormal horror movie that’s actually fun to watch. One that leaves no questions about the characters surviving the trials about to come. And with this plot twist eliminated, the creators have to pull some new tricks on how our heroes will meet their end. So if you’re up for some bloody violence, give Evil Dead a shot.
Stir Of Echoes
Being hypnotized is never a good idea if you are a movie character, though with the Stir Of Echoes, it is done in a very fresh, believable, and tangible way. Which, in turn, makes it a spine-tingling and even heartbreaking movie experience. This supernatural thriller truly deserves to be on our best movies list!
The Amityville Horror
Now, we already have a remake of this movie on our list, but you won’t be disappointed by watching both the spin-off and this original film from 1979. Truly a classic of the haunted house horror movie genre, it employs practical effects that are ever scarier than any CGI stuff. And though the critics weren’t too excited about Amityville, it resonated with audiences making it a huge commercial success.
Freaky-looking porcelain dolls will forever make viewers feel queasy, and this time we get to learn the roots of this unexplained perception. Annabelle: Creation is a wickedly scary and psychologically damaging movie that will give you a whole new meaning to period pieces.
Based on the first published Stephen King book, Carrie was an instant success upon its release. And how could it not be when it’s written by the horror master himself and directed by the legendary Brian De Palma (Scarface, Mission: Impossible). Not only is Carrie horrific and frightening to watch, but it is also one of the very few horror movies nominated for an Academy Award. So, if you haven’t already - watch it now.
The Cabin In The Woods
As a horror-comedy (yes, it’s a thing), The Cabin In The Woods might seem like any other scary movie you’ve already seen. Yes, there’s the cabin. Yes, the location is desolate. Then, of course, there’s The Virgin, The Athlete, and all the cliche characters. But that’s where the similarities and tropes end. Soon, the plot takes a thoroughly unexpected twist, leaving the audience smirking in relief and gasping for breath out of fright at the same time.
The Skeleton Key
Louisiana has been long since marked with tales of mysticism and the supernatural, so it’s only fitting that someone used the unmistakable atmosphere in a horror movie. And though The Skeleton key isn’t as scary as some of the other submissions on our list, the depiction of voodoo rituals and unearthly entities will give a lovely shiver even to a seasoned horror movies fan.
It’s a slow burn with Hereditary, and the suspense gets so bad that when the actual horror sequence happens at the very end of it, you feel finally relieved. This psychological thriller will absolutely leave you white-knuckling your armrest and giving you back pain from sitting at the edge of your chair for its 127 minutes of runtime. It would be really unfair to spoil this movie for anyone, so I’ll only tell you this - you cannot escape from something that’s in your blood.
We always enjoy watching Keanu Reeves on the silver screen, especially when he’s a chain-smoking cynic dealing with half-angels and half-demons. A neo-noir action film that touches on theology, Constantine is genuinely one of a kind. Charismatic performances and superb production supplement its intriguing premise. And if a movie isn’t enough - check out the video game adaptation of Constantine!
We’ve decided to include the original adaptation of It into our list - okay, so it’s actually a TV mini-series, but we just couldn’t resist Tim Curry’s Pennywise portrayal. And though it isn’t a movie exactly, the 1990s It is gritty, grimy, and dark; not any less scary than the modern version. Surely, nothing that has spawned from Stephen King’s brain could be anything else!
The Woman In Black
It’s gothic, dark, and supernatural - The Woman In Black is a slow roast that builds suspense magnificently. With the action set in an English 20th century village, you just know there will be apparitions and weird happenings. And just as promised - the ghosts and demonic spirits will haunt you even after the movie has ended.