Great Ghost Films Worth Watching

Poltergeist (1982)

The story: family notices a series of paranormal events that starts to take place in their home. It all feels like a game to them until the moment when their daughter disappears. The only way to return her is to call a team of professionals exploring paranormal activities. As the team starts exploring the house, the amount spiritual intervention increases until it "devours" the house.

Film review: produced by Steven Spielberg himself, Poltergeist is by far one of the most massive productions made in Hollywood. The film is filled with brilliantly produced special effects and all sorts of visual "tricks." Of course, in our digital era it is a common practice to use special effects here and there, but for the viewer in 1982 this must have been a jaw dropping experience to see Poltergeist with its trees stealing people, furniture flying across the room and spirits coming out of a TV set. I highly recommend the movie to anyone who is into a good film viewing experience.

Poltergeist film logo
Poltergeist film logo | Source
Directed by
Tobe Hooper
Story
Steven Spielberg
Music
Jerry Goldsmith
Haley Joel Osment in 2001. He played Cole Sear in "The Sixth Sense."
Haley Joel Osment in 2001. He played Cole Sear in "The Sixth Sense." | Source

The Sixth Sense (1999)

The story: a lonely boy who is haunted by morbid visions of dead people is being helped by a child psychologist who tries to understand the reason's for the boy's condition.

Film review. This film was probably seen by many, but after viewing it once again I decided it would be a great addition to the article about ghost films. Even if you have seen the film, it is worth watching it again to better understand the depth of the relationship between the boy and the psychologist. Everything is brilliant in The Sixth Sense: the music, the acting, the cinematography...it is a must see for everybody. Not too scary, this film is more about the inner world of a lonely boy and the way his condition is treated by the person who tries to be not only a doctor but also a friend to him.

Directed by
M. Night Shyamalan
Story
M. Night Shyamalan
Music
James Newton Howard

Stir of Echoes (1999)

The story: Tom and Maggie Witzky attend a party where their family friend hypnotizes Tom out of fun. Very soon after this Tom starts seeing eerie visions of a dead girl's ghost. Following the directions he is given during the visions, he starts looking for this girl to solve the puzzle.

Film review: what caught my attention at first glance was the great job done by the main actors. Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Erbe were simply brilliant. If it isn't the ghost, the attention of the viewer is caught by the couple that delivers outstanding acting, thanks to which we constantly empathize with everything which happens to the family, their friends and neighbors. Accompanied by the music of Newton Howard Shore, the story makes you want to watch it over and over again. This is truly one of the greatest ghost movies ever made.

"Stir of Echoes" Special Edition DVD Trailer

Directed by
David Koepp
Story
Richard Matheson (novel)
Music
James Newton Howard

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

The story takes place during the Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939). A young boy Carlos arrives to a boy's orphanage after his father's death. On the first night in the orphanage he learns that this is not a quiet place to be, it is haunted by a dead boy's ghost that sings and walks at nighttime scaring the inhabitants. As the story unfolds, Carlos learns more about the boy and his death.

Film review: this is another great example of how a ghost/horror story can be incorporated into a drama of love and hate, unhappy childhood and treason. We do not know who the dead boy is and where his presence in the scripts leads us, until the very end when all the story lines come together and it all becomes clear.

We do not see the war most of the time, for the orphanage is far away from the nearest town, but the unexploded bomb in the middle of the yard serves as a constant reminder of it. So, despite the happenings in everyday life of the orphanage, there is always an expectation of something tragic that is about to come, and I should say Guillermo del Toro does not disappoint us and keeps tickling our nerves with every sequence.

"The Devil's Backbone" Trailer

Directed by
Guillermo del Toro
Story
Guillermo del Toro, Antonio Trashorras, David Muñoz
Music
Javier Navarrete
"The Others" logo
"The Others" logo | Source

The Others (2001)

The story: Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) is living in an isolated mansion alone with her two children. Her husband left to war and the servants abandoned the house one day without saying a word. Apart from these misfortunes, her children are having health problems when being exposed to daylight, so she has to keep the curtains drawn and rooms locked. Everything is a mystery in the lonely house, even the new servants, but it is only in the end we realize what really happened there.

Film review: just like other films mentioned in the article, The Others is a brilliantly executed work without the use of lots of special effects, which makes it look especially atmospheric and creepy from the beginning to the end. A lot of suspense is achieved through the use of music and sound effects and brilliant acting, so at no moment the film is going to leave you disappointed. The story builds up in a way that at every moment we feel that we know what is going on, until the very end when we realize that we were mistaken...

"The Others" Trailer

Directed by
Alejandro Amenábar
Story
Alejandro Amenábar
Music
Alejandro Amenábar
Juan Antonio Bayona, Belén Rueda and Guillermo del Toro at the premiere of "The Orphanage." Photo by Thierry Caro.
Juan Antonio Bayona, Belén Rueda and Guillermo del Toro at the premiere of "The Orphanage." Photo by Thierry Caro. | Source

The Orphanage (2007)

The story: After growing up, Laura comes with her family to the house where she spent her childhood. The house used to be an orphanage which Laura and her husband are planning to restore. Their son is at first happy to be there, since he found imaginary friends to play with. However, soon the games become more than a boy's imagination.

Film review: this is a beautiful story about love, family, about childhood. I would say that it is more a touching family drama than a ghost story, where most of the scary moments are pierced with sentimentality rather than horror. However, the elements of drama and mystery are so masterfully intertwined that the whole story flows like a river, carrying the viewer forward towards a masterfully written and filmed ending.

As far as the acting is concerned, the caring love of Laura (Belén Rueda) towards her adopted son Simón (Roger Príncep) is very beautifully performed. Throughout the film, it shows the tradegy of a mother with no children of her own.

Other strong points of The Orphanage are sound effects that often help to create the atmosphere of mystery and suspense and the beautiful score composed by Fernando Velázquez.

"The Orphanage" "(El Orfanato)" Trailer

Directed by
J.A. Bayona
Story
Sergio G. Sánchez
Music
Fernando Velázquez

"The Conjuring" Trailer

The Conjuring (2013)

The story is said to be based on real life events and takes place in the 70's in the States, where a huge family moves to a lonely house in the forest in search for better life. Starting from the first night strange things start to happen and the mother decides to invite a famous couple of "ghost hunters" to clean up the house. However, exorcism of a big house appears to be a difficult and dangerous task.

Film review: with so many haunted house horror films out there in the market, The Conjuring stands tall as one of the masterpieces of the genre, as one of the examples of how a ghost story should be filmed and delivered to the audience to keep it entertained from beginning until the end. From his successful breathtaking thriller Saw, director James Wan learned well how to make films that chill viewers' blood. The Conjuring does not have any horror cliches, it delivers the happenings in a very smart way, when every night in the haunted house is a torture for the family until the final day of the exorcism, when all the evil inhabiting the house bursts out to destroy its inhabitants.

Directed by
James Wan
Story
Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Music
Joseph Bishara

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