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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

The Best Paranormal Horror Films

This is a bit of a broad category, but I’ve been focused on paranormal horror lately and wanted to highlight some of my favorites. Paranormal films differ from other horror sub-genres in that they center around an other-worldly haunting.

The Frighteners (1996) Directed by Peter Jackson and starring Michael J. Fox, The Frighteners doesn’t get the love it deserves in my opinion. The film seems to be polarizing for audiences. But I really enjoy the ride it brings you on, and the impact of the ending. Worth a watch if you haven’t seen it!

Poltergeist (1982) An absolute classic, for a reason. Poltergeist stars Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne and was directed by Tobe Hooper. Ghost enthusiasts know that Poltergeists are playful spirits. This film does a great job at portraying this definition, and bringing to life the lived experience of those who have encountered these energies.

The Ring (2002) When The Ring first released, it shocked our generation. As an adult, it doesn’t hit quite as hard but it’s nostalgic. And its impact is undeniable. While you’re at it, check out the source material Ringu from 1998.

Candyman (1992) Another absolute classic, Candyman stars Tony Todd. The film was directed by Bernard Rose. This film centers around urban legends and superstitions brought to life. Another defining horror film.

The Shining (1980) I debated whether or not The Shining belongs in a paranormal category, but ultimately decided it did. Of course. The source material by Stephen King is a bit more of a psychological thriller, but Kubrick’s film is much more squarely paranormal. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must.

The Sixth Sense (1999) Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense’s famous twist ending, spun off a new wave of energy in horror films in the 90s and early 2000s. Shyamalan’s impact is never-ending in this space but this film feels unmatched in many ways.

The Others (2001) Similar to Sixth Sense, The Others shocked audiences with its plot twist. Starring the incredible Nicole Kidman, The Others was directed by Alejandro Amenábar. For all of you who love the Victorian era aesthetic, this film is for you.

House on Haunted Hill (1959) Directed by William Castle, House on Haunted Hill stars Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart. It’s a classic horror situation, where a mysterious person invites seemingly random people to an old creepy house. They get $10,000…if they survive the night.

The Exorcist (1973) This list wouldn’t be complete without this classic from the 70s. The Exorcist famously stars Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil, directed by William Friedkin. It follows a priest who deals with the demonic possession of a young girl.

Paranormal Activity (2007) One of my favorite examples of a found footage horror movie, Paranormal Activity follows the story of a couple who use cameras to capture the strange paranormal entity that’s haunting their home. Truly terrifying.

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