Have you recently moved into a new house and it already feels like there is something off about the place? Do you often hear creeks and bumps in the middle of the night or pieces of furniture in places they were not before? Do you see dead people?
Well, if you can relate to any of that, it sounds like you might exist in a haunted house movie, but that is no reason to panic just yet. Those kinds of classic horror films actually have the highest survival rate when compared to other spooky subgenres, especially if you can prepare yourself by studying the following scenarios that are likely to happen when you share a living space with the non-living.
Your Hope To “Start Over” In This New House Falls Flat
If you purchased your new home as a way for you or your family to hit the reset button on life, only to come face-to-face with the dead, you have my deepest sympathies. However, you are not alone since most haunted house movies start this way — from George C. Scott’s grieving protagonist in 1980’s The Changeling to Rosario Dawson’s single mother in Disney’s 2023 Haunted Mansion reboot, most recently.
The House Is A Total Steal
You might not have paid much mind to how unusually cheap your new property turned out to be, chalking it up to it being a fixer-upper or maybe just so happy to find such a good deal. Of course, it will quickly become apparent why, just like when the Lutz’s discovered their house in the Amityville Horror was a crime scene.
The Haunting Could Distract From That Project You’re Working On
If you chose your new home (or rental) hoping it would be perfect for a new creative endeavor, you also have my condolences because you’re never getting that thing done. The ghosts from Insidious cut deeply into Rene Lambert’s (Rose Byrne) songwriting, for instance, and while Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) technically does finish his novel in 1980’s The Shining, it’s a pretty repetitive read.
The Entity Might Wait A Week Or So To Show Its Hand
It probably took a while for you to realize what you were up against, didn’t it? Ghosts and demons seem to operate on the slow-burn horror method, starting off with a few unconcerning noises before resorting to something like possessing a tree that tries to eat your son, like in the allegedly “cursed” classic, Poltergeist, from 1982.
Your Child May See Something You Can’t
Speaking of Poltergeist, was one of the younger members of your family the first to mention something strange going on the house? Kids tend to be more susceptible to paranormal activity, much like six-year-old Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke), who first announces to the Freelings that, “They’re here.”
Your Kid Might Make Friends With The Entity
If your child never mentioned any weird stuff going on, they might not realize they are interacting with a spectral being and even think it’s just another kid who happened to be in the neighborhood. For instance, in the first of the Conjuring movies, young April Perron (Kyla Deaver) became close to a ghost named “Rory.”
Your Pet May Sense Something Evil
If your kids haven’t noticed anything strange, your pets likely have and they already know it’s bad news, which is why it’s a shame they cannot verbalize their warning. Then again, the black Labrador from 1979’s The Amityville Horror, Harry, arose the Lutz’s suspicions pretty effectively by digging at what turned out to be a gateway to Hell until he bled.
The Skeptic Is Affected The Worst
If you bring up the haunting and no one in the house believes you, that might grant you some immunity from the spirits’ wrath, but could seal the others’ downfall. Take it from John Cusack’s character in 1408, who sets out to prove he has nothing to fear in the titular hotel room, but learns he is dead wrong.
Someone Might Fake A Few Haunting Details
There may come a moment, however, when the skeptics feel validated when proof that the haunting might be hoax comes to light. For instance, in the underrated mockumentary, Lake Mungo, teenager Matthew Palmer (Martin Sharpe) fakes evidence of his sister’s ghost and it is discovered that the seemingly possessed Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe) is really good at throwing her voice in The Conjuring 2.
The Entity Might Like To Play With Toys
If you’re wondering how your child could feel unthreatened by a supernatural being, they probably caught them at playtime. When it comes to manipulating objects, some entities prefer your children’s favorite things, like when the unseen presence from 2022’s experimental horror flick, Skinamarink, turned a Fisher Price phone into nightmare fuel.
If You Have Any Crosses, Expect To Find Them Upside Down
If you’re a person of faith, the entity might use that against you, too, by turning crucifixes in the house into a symbol of evil with a simple flip. In The Conjuring 2, Janet’s room is covered in crosses — all of which are turned upside down before her eyes.
The Building Interior Could Change Before Your Eyes
Some entities might go the extra mile and manipulate the house itself by rearranging the architecture in implausible ways, like in the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. In less subtle cases, they could magically alter parts of the house like it’s made of clay — something Jay Evers (Eddie Murphy) blames on termites when he witnesses a door physically expanding in 2003’s The Haunted Mansion.
The Basement Is The Last Place You Want To Be
There is no real safe place in your house, but there might be one area where the presence is at its strongest and, in most cases, that will be the part of the house closest to Hell. Case in point: demonic passageways found in a basement in the The Amityville Horror and the found footage thriller favorite, Hell House LLC.
Mirrors Might Mess With Your Head
Honestly, in your situation, I’d lose or cover up all your mirrors because they can be a ghost’s most reliable manipulation tool. In addition to another killer scene in Poltergeist when a paranormal researcher checks his reflection and becomes convinced he is pulling his face off, there are entire movies about killer mirrors, like the Mike Flanagan’s underrated thriller, Oculus, or Alexandre Aja’s aptly titled, Mirrors.
The Entity Might Try To Seduce Someone In The House
Sexuality must be something that can survive death, based on how some entities have expressed certain advances toward the living, such as the spirit who comes on to Ray (Dan Aykroyd) in a dream in the horror-comedy classic, Ghostbusters. On the other hand, seduction can also be another effective manipulation tool, which was certainly the case in The Shining’s bathtub scene.
Your Partner Could Start Acting Out Of Character
Obviously, the haunting is going to take a toll on your family, but might be especially daunting on your relationship with your significant other when their behavior takes a concerning turn. This could just be out of a struggle to process trauma, like Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) in Insidious, or a case of psychological manipulation and/or possession, which makes James Brolin’s George Lutz a danger to his family in The Amityville Horror.
The Entity Could Invite You Into Its Memories
Some days you might find yourself witnessing a significant event from the house’s past as if it is happening before your eyes. Some entities — like the ones from The Shining — are powerful enough to create this illusion, either for a simple scare or maybe even to teach you something.
Research May Show Some Real Stuff Went Down In Your House
Considering you probably did not look up the house’s history beforehand, it would be a good idea to do that now and see what answers you can find. Beware: you may learn it was a bloody crime scene (The Amityville Horror), housed a satanic sacrifice (Hell House LLC), or was built on top of a cemetery.
You’ll Never Be Able To Trust Realtors Again
In Poltergeist, real estate agent Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson) realizes his boss, Mr. Teague (James Karen), only moved the headstones but left the bodies from the cemetery his family’s home was built on top of. If you discover that happened to you, I would certainly empathize with your inevitable resentment toward the housing industry.
Your Neighbors Might Wait A Little Too Long To Give You A Warning
If not from your realtor, you might get the information you need about the house from someone next door… but probably at the last minute. It takes several episodes of creator Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House before Horace Dudley (Robert Longstreet) shares with Hugh Crain (Henry Thomas) his own unsettling experience with the titular estate.
Even Paranormal Experts Might Be Spooked By Your Situation
If you call a professional ghost hunter or demonologist, despite being in the business of scary stuff, they might be a little squeamish when they enter your premises. I suppose I can understand why the medium (Mark Frederichs) from the the first installment of the Paranormal Activity movies decides to leave Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah’s (Micah Sloat) house seconds after entering near the end.
The Paranormal Experts May Go Above And Beyond Explaining Hauntings To You
On the other hand, some paranormal researchers are so comfortable with their work that they don’t mind talking about ghosts and all their methods of combating and capturing them to ad nauseam. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s portrayals of Ed and Lorraine Warren are a bit guilty this in the Conjuring movies, but they are not the only ones.
Even A Priest Might Not Not Be Able To Save You
I would like to say that — no matter your beliefs — your best chance might be in calling a member of the clergy, but I don’t even have much hope in that option. Rod Steiger’s Father Delaney failed to help the Lutz Family in The Amityville Horror due to a lack of support from his diocese and the house’s own resistance to his efforts.
Someone Could Recommend Holding A Seance/Ouija Board
There may come a time when it is decided that you should contact the entity directly to work things out amongst yourselves. This can be achieved through holding a seance or with the use of a Ouija Board.
The Seance/Ouija Board Will Probably Just Make Things Worse
You did not actually try the seance or the Ouija Board, did you? Because as countless films — such as the video call horror favorite, Host, to the aptly titled Ouija movies — will prove, it’s not going to help you one bit.
The Entity Might Actually Be Attached To You
It is actually possible that the house was never haunted until you entered the premises and the one that is haunted is you. That’s exactly what the Paranormal Activity movies timeline explores in regards to Katie’s history and the reason why the Lamberts can’t escape their demonic tormentors by switching houses in Insidious.
The Entity Might Actually Be Trying To Warn You About Something
There’s a chance this ghost is not out to get you, but actually could be what saves your life. In one of the best horror movies of the 2000s, What Lies Beneath, Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) learns some very startling, but very helpful information from the presence haunting her dream home.
The Entity Might Just Need Your Help
Or, maybe, it is you whom the ghost needs a favor from. In The Changeling — one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite horror movies — John Russell (George C. Scott) works tirelessly to solve the mystery behind the death of the boy haunting his Seattle mansion.
Maybe You’re The Ghost?
You might want to consider the upsetting possibility that you’re the one who is unwittingly dead and the apparitions you’re seeing are just people you are haunting. There have been a number of horror movies with twist endings like this.
The House Might Not Actually Be Haunted, But Alive
You know what would be even scarier than living in a haunted house? Living in a house that haunts, much like the titular antagonist of 2006’s spooky, but kid-friendly movie, Monster House.
If You Put A Lot Of Money Into The House, Moving Is A No
It seems like the obvious solution to your problem would be to just get out of there, but because that would likely hurt you financially, you’re actively looking for other options. That’s probably why the living and deceased members of the Beetlejuice cast were willing to share the house by the end, after getting rid of Michael Keaton’s title character, of course.
It Could Be Physically Impossible To Leave
There is also the possibility that no amount of money or a strong enough prayer or battering ram will allow you to escape because the house will not let you. It is kind of like how busting open the front door of the abandoned asylum from 2011’s Grave Encounters only led the paranormal investigation show crew into more dark hallways.
Hopefully this has been helpful… or made the next few upcoming horror movies set in a haunted house easier to predict!