horror movies about house

Unwelcome Guests – House-Centric Horror Movies

The terror inside our houses is a theme that runs through the horror strand like a dark red thread, tying together some of the genre’s most disturbing movies.

In these cinematic works, the nightmare creeps into those walls we know so well and believe to be seemingly safe, turning them into deadly traps with no exit.

From then on, fear lurks in every corner, and the illusion of protection we had vanishes like snow melting in the sun.

Ranging from Eastern mystery to European angst, today’s movies explore horror in a variety of homes and characters among very different contexts and cultures.

These hapless people will be caught up in a maelstrom of ancestral fears and distressing situations, where tension builds and chills creep into the mind making it difficult to distinguish between nightmare and reality.

In the rooms and hallways of these haunted dwellings, the occupants must face their deepest fears and darkest secrets because often, the evil presences do not just terrorize but feed on their despair.

So let’s get ready to encounter the thrill and adrenaline rush that only the best horror movies can offer because from now on, you will be watching the lock on your house door with much more doubt and suspicion.

Ju-on (2002)

Ju-on 2002 movie
Amazon Prime Video

The first terrifying movie kicks off in a seemingly ordinary Japanese house, where a dark curse of horror and death lurks.

Rika, a social worker, must care for the family living there and soon discovers the mansion is haunted by vengeful specters, becoming part of this never-ending nightmare as well.

Next, a young couple, Tetsuya and Kazumi, find themselves caught up in the curse, discovering further that these evil spirits in the house can spread evil to anyone who comes into contact with them.

The dark supernatural force acts relentlessly, disrupting the family unit and mercilessly affecting even detective Toyama, who reveals a heinous crime perpetrated many years ago that has made these spirits pregnant with evil and resentment.

Takashi Shimizu, the director, demonstrates excellent skill in creating an atmosphere of tangible and omnipresent terror, expertly exploiting the traditional ingredients of Japanese horror with a recipe where the nonlinear narrative structure disorients and captivates the audience at the same time.

Every room in this cursed house is imbued with tension and anguish, taking on the role of an autonomous character who is the epicenter of a nightmare that spreads beyond its boundaries and involves anyone who comes into contact with it.

The lead actors, including Megumi Okina as Rika, deliver memorable performances in conveying the sense of despair and helplessness in the face of impenetrable and relentless evil.

Following the success of this movie has spawned numerous sequels and adaptations, seeking to expand and deepen the dark and frightening universe of the first chapter.

Even the U.S. cinema industry recognized Ju-on‘s potential with a series of remakes, beginning with The Grudge in 2004, which unfortunately did not have the same energy as the original, although still directed by Takashi Shimizu.

Them (2006)

Them 2006 movie
Amazon Prime Video

We continue with a story inspired by a real-life news event, at least according to what appears in the opening titles.

It takes place in a remote country house in the Romanian suburbs, where a young French teacher couple, Clémentine and Lucas, have recently moved in to start a new life.

Their serenity is soon shattered at night when they hear strange noises nearby and see shifty shadows hovering around the house.

They initially try to rationalize what is happening, attributing it to their imagination and the stress of living abroad in isolation.

However, they soon realize they are not alone and the threat is real. The situation becomes progressively more dangerous, and the raids by these strangers become bolder, breaking through doors and windows and seriously injuring poor Lucas.

Without knowing who or for what reason someone is attacking them, the couple has no choice but to seek an evasion from their own house desperately.

Directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud craft their work with great skill and a minimal budget, focusing on the dark nocturnal setting and the location’s confinement to build a frightening claustrophobia keeping the viewer on the edge of his seat until the last frame.

This is an excellent result achieved with only two actors on screen, Olivia Bonamy and Michaël Cohen, who give an outstanding performance of fear and despair without the director requiring special effects or splatter scenes.

Moreover, these directors use silences and ambient sounds rather than a traditional soundtrack, turning everything, even the most ordinary click, into an omen of danger.

Despite having a basic plot, Them shines in the house siege horror genre, and the unknown threat works perfectly, even if revealed only after the conclusion.

Absentia (2011)

Absentia 2011 movie
Amazon Prime Video

If the previous horror was a low-budget movie, with this one, we are talking about an even poorer and more limited production.

Indeed, almost the entire plot takes place in the apartment of Tricia, a woman struggling with accepting the mysterious disappearance of her husband, Daniel, seven years earlier.

After all this time, she finally feels ready to declare him legally deceased when her younger sister, Callie, moves in to be with her at this difficult juncture.

However, for several days Tricia has had dreams and even some waking flashes in which she sees her husband repeatedly, appearing extremely angry with her, perhaps because she decided to declare him dead.

Callie, on the other hand, suspects an afterlife entity is responsible for what happened to Daniel and many other disturbing cases of missing persons in the past.

The girl becomes haunted by a gloomy tunnel near the apartment, from where strange voices come, and she apparently sees figures moving in the dark before vanishing from sight.

At that point, almost as if the mysterious presence has finally noticed the sisters, their lives also begin to be in danger.

As far as I am concerned, this remains Mike Flanagan‘s best movie, along with Oculus, another horror that combined supernatural elements with intense human feelings and emotional conflicts of a family locked in a house.

Despite being little-known actresses, we also highlight the performances of Katie Parker and Courtney Bell, who play sisters Callie and Tricia, respectively.

Two different women with a common past that they would like to leave behind, when this strange nightmare arrives and no one wants to believe but them.

A house, a street, and a mysterious tunnel, nothing else is needed to create excellent suspense that never lets up until the cruel final twist.

Resolution (2012)

Resolution 2012 movie
Amazon Prime Video

The next horror movie unfolds in a lonely house in the middle of a deserted area where the rough Chris lives.

Not having much desire to work, all he does in life is sleep, do drugs, shoot cans with his many guns, and make some money by playing middleman between some drug gangs.

Until his childhood friend Michael, whom he had called without even remembering when he was high, arrives from the city.

Seeing his bad state, the friend imposes forced rehab by handcuffing him to a bed there to keep him away from the drug temptation.

Determined to wait patiently as long as necessary, Michael notices strange, unexplained, and disturbing events around the house.

Also, in a half-destroyed shack, he discovers a series of videotapes and photographs of people talking incessantly or nonsensically.

Even worse, some of these videos seem to foretell events that have yet to happen, including the brutal killing of Michael and Chris by a gang of pissed-off drug dealers.

Among the newer names in homemade independent cinema, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are some of my most favorite, and I have already enjoyed their excellent films, such as the romantic horror Spring or the visionary The Endless, which is basically a sequel to Resolution.

With little money but a lot of talent and ideas, these young filmmakers put on the funny (and scary) adventures of the brilliant Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran.

They may not be the best actors ever seen in cinema history, but as hilarious dysfunctional friends, I think there is little to criticize; they are perfect for the role, which will also return briefly in the spectacular The Endless.

So let us enjoy this poor but rich little movie; our time will be well-spent.

Terrified (2017)

Terrified 2017 movie
Amazon Prime Video

For today’s final horror ride, we move to a quiet residential neighborhood in Buenos Aires, where the story opens with the brutal murder of a woman in her bathtub.

The police arrest the husband, but he claims to be innocent and says something invisible lifted the woman into the air and hurled repeatedly against the wall until it killed her.

Of course, no one believes him except the medium Mora Albreck, who visits him in his cell along with his friend Jano and Commissioner Funes.

The latter is investigating some strange events in the neighborhood, such as the disappearance of the victim’s neighbor and the subsequent death of a child, also in front of the same house.

Seemingly a common accident, except that the child re-emerges from the grave to place himself in his mother’s kitchen as if waiting for breakfast before going to school.

At that point, the trio of improvised paranormal investigators must discover the source of the evil before this horror movie’s violent and unexpected conclusion.

Demian Rugna creates what is actually an episodic horror movie, yet succeeds in combining the stories of these haunted houses into a single, coherent movie.

Once again, we have excellent actors not widely known to the general public, such as Elvira Onetto and George L. Lewis, namely the psychic and the retired medical examiner, weak and human, but also brave in facing the unknown without giving up.

Perhaps a bit more stereotypical is the cop part for Maximiliano Ghione, although the combination with the other two characters is suggestive and convincing in every scene.

Terrified is a more than apt title for this movie, which does not resort to easy jumpscare but ratchets up the tension and terror as only the best horror films can do.

As you can see, you certainly don’t lack the cue to get some cold chills in your warm and comfortable homes, but always be careful what lurks under your bed and that your doors are firmly locked.

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