In the 2022 horror film Umma, Sandra Oh’s character Amanda lives with her daughter Chrissy in the country and is tormented by the ghost of her mother. While there are many supernatural horror movies being released each year, not every spirit is sufficiently creepy and noteworthy.
In order for a horror movie ghost to be memorable enough, they have to stand out in terms of how they haunt people or when it comes to their alarming appearance.
Alice Palmer (Lake Mungo, 2008)
Redditor Ashleigh0319 said “Lake Mungo” is a horror movie with a scary ghost, writing, “That scene near the end…” Alice Palmer dies when she’s only 16 years old and her family picks up the pieces after, realizing that she might still be haunting their home. The last image of Alice is definitely well-done and will stick with audiences.
Often said to be one of the best 2000s horror movies, Lake Mungo examines the fear that Alice’s family feels when they see her in supernatural form, even though they love and miss her and wanting nothing more than to connect with her again. The film is packed with emotion as well as scares.
Stephanie Stevenson (Sinister, 2012)
Redditor MrAnonymous117 mentioned Sinister as a film that has some scary spirits. The fan wrote that Sinister “is so dark, disturbing, atmospheric and suspenseful. It focuses on a demon rather than a ghost, but some ghosts do still appear in the movie.”
Although the demon Buhguul is the focal point of the movie, and his long stringy black hair, crossed out mouth, and the shadows in his eyes are hard to move on from, the ghost of Stephanie Stevenson is just as haunting. She was the child living in the home before the Oswalts and she is here to possess Ellison’s daughter Ashley. Stephanie looks sweet and innocent but is anything but.
Miss Jessel And Peter Quint (The Innocents, 1961)
While jump scares can have the intended effect, several horror fans like to seek out stories that go in another direction. Replying in a Reddit thread called “What are the scariest ghost movies that don’t rely on jump scares?” one Redditor said “The Innocents is the OG non-jump scare horror movie.”
Adapted from the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw, Miss Giddens begins taking charge of Flora and Miles at Bly Manor and sees the spirits of two people who worked for the place, Miss Jessel and Peter Quint. They are visually affecting and just as awful as any villain.
Grace, Ashley and Nicolas Stewart (The Others, 2001)
Replying in the same Reddit thread, Redditor Timothy_Vegas said “The Others has little to no jump scares. Very good movie.” One of the best movies starring Nicole Kidman, this horror film involves a massive twist where Grace Stewart and her kids Ashley and Nicolas are spirits who have overstayed their welcome in their Victorian-era mansion.
Because they don’t even know that they’re ghosts, that makes the main characters even more horrifying. They don’t mean any harm and have good intentions, but it’s still terrible for the new family that has moved in.
The Ghosts Haunting The Freeland Family (Poltergeist, 1982)
Redditor tykeryerson said “Poltergeist” is a scary paranormal horror film and the ghosts are perfectly dramatic. The fact that they target the Freeland family’s young daughter Carol Anne is even worse, as they manipulate her sweet nature and speak to her through the TV in the living room.
While the movie was made several decades ago, the haunting tone lives on and watching Carol Anne staring into the TV is an image that horror fans will always be able to recall. Because the family moves into a regular house in a regular area, the movie suggests that ghosts can appear anywhere and anytime, which is a scary thought.
Bathsheba Sherman (The Conjuring, 2013)
Replying in a thread about “disturbing paranormal movies,” Redditor Movieman651 posted that The Conjuring is a “very well-done and creepy film that was increasingly disturbing throughout.” The villain from the 2013 film is Bathsheba Sherman, a terrible-looking ghost with the stringy hair that has become expected of these figures.
Like many other spirits, Bathsheba goes after people who move into the home that she used to live in and that she died in, as she doesn’t want to let this place go. She is a particularly awful horror movie ghost thanks to her look but also the fact that she can possess people, and the Warrens are disgusted by her but are able to figure her out as well.
The Ghost Who Torments People Online (Kairo, 2001)
One Redditor wrote that “The incredibly creepy ghost woman in the Japanese movie Kairo” is a scary horror movie ghost. One of the best Japanese horror movies, Kairo was released in 2001 and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Wes Craven directed the 2006 American remake called Pulse. The main characters realize that a spirit is killing people through the Internet, which is an intelligent premise that results in some riveting scenes that no one can forget.
The ghosts in Kairo stand out from those in movies about creepy technology as they are shadowy figures who feel especially tormenting. The remake Pulse focuses on a computer virus that allows humans to be in touch with people who have died.
The Spirits Haunting Micah And Katie (Paranormal Activity, 2009)
For one Redditor, “I actually like the Paranormal Activity way of depicting ghosts: invisible, where we only know it’s there based on interactions with the environment.” In the 2009 movie that begins the franchise, Micah and Katie realize that their house is definitely haunted.
As the Redditor mentioned, because audiences don’t actually see any freaky-looking spirits with long hair or distorted faces, the film feels even more memorable. While there’s something to be said for the scary look of certain ghosts, just knowing that they are nearby but not being able to see them can feel especially frightening.
Kayako Saeki And The Other Spirits(The Ju-On Franchise, 2001-2015)
One Redditor posted that one of the most terrifying ghost movies is “Ju-On” as it “has a strong creepiness to it. The ghosts are almost alien and demonic, truly horrific.” The 2004 horror movie The Grudge starring Sarah Michelle Geller is based on this franchise.
The Japanese horror franchise Ju-On: The Grudge has ghosts that make quite an impact on audiences. When Takeo Saeki’s wife Kayako has feelings for someone, he murders her, and that starts a curse that affects people who stays at this Tokyo house. This curse feels impossible to escape from.
The Ghosts At Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital (Grave Encounters, 2011)
Grave Encounters sees the main characters working on a reality TV show about ghosts who visit Collingwood Psychatric Hospital. While they hope that something paranormal will occur so they can make something entertaining, they’re shocked by the truth of what they find.
One Redditor said that the movie is “Soooo much creepier when you realize what’s going on” and the spirits in Grave Encounters are unsettling. While found footage films can feel corny at times, this filmmaking style works here.
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