Three Good Flicks for Haunted House Junkies

AFTERMATH (2021) - Jan

It’s stating the obvious: haunted house movies—even not so good ones—are scary, because, on a metaphorical level, what they’re really about is what happens when someplace we deem safe isn’t really safe at all. The house is the stand-in for that secure thing—an actual home, a family structure, a romantic relationship, a job, our physical health—and the “haunting” is the stand-in for anything that threatens it: fire, foreclosure, death, infidelity, unfair treatment, terminal illness. In the end, why haunted house movies are effective—and popular—is because they prey on our fear of destabilization.

This is probably why so many of them have the same tropes—but if you’re a junkie like me, who’ll give any haunted house movie a fair shot until it proves otherwise—you’re used to that; in fact, you expect it.

That said, here’s a couple of recent ones on Netflix I thought were decent. If you’re looking for an entertaining haunted house flick to pass a frigid winter night, one of these might fill the bill.

*SPOILER FREE*

Aftermath (2021)

What I enjoyed most about this was that some moments were genuinely terrifying, and the pace at which the not-quite-right events happen was just right: not too much too fast, not too few and then an overload toward the end. The central conflict between the main characters is a little bit of a different take on the norm, and there are a couple of really interesting twists I wasn’t expecting. While there are a couple of loose threads—things that come up, then disappear and we never hear about them again, one unexplained, and one unjustified—honestly, they don’t affect the overall experience. Loaded with jump scares, this is a good time and a great popcorn flick.

 

Things Heard & Seen

Things Heard & Seen (2021)

Rich in beautiful pastoral landscapes, this brooding, intense haunted house entry delves into the complex workings of intellectual creatives and their internal struggles. The pacing is slower in terms of weird stuff going on in the home, the characters are richly drawn, and the solving of the central mystery takes some thought, so this plays more like a dark drama; it also renders a whole, thought-provoking, and satisfying story dealing with the themes of perception and deception. With almost no jump scares and the spirit renderings more sad than scary, if you’re looking for something darker and more serious, this is the perfect complement to a nice cup of tea, hot chocolate, or glass of wine.

His House

His House (2020)

Going beyond the usual tropes, His House is grounded in a real-world, deplorable situation in which the environment isn’t secure to begin with, and it’s utterly terrifying. The weird things that happen to this couple in their forced-upon-them home are grotesque and surreal. The acting is superior, the script is tight and multi-leveled, and your heart positively breaks for these characters as they struggle to survive and cope with their massive loss and devastating circumstance. This is a thinking person’s haunted house story, in that it confronts the uncomfortable themes of trauma, inhumanity, cruelty, otherness, and belonging; it goes with good strong coffee and probably not much else, because it’s deeply disturbing on so many levels. If you want to go really dark and be haunted for days after, this is the one to watch.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.

Posted on January 24, 2022, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, Ghost Stories, Horror Movies, Horror Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’ve seen Things Heard and Seen, fun movie! I have His House on my to-watch list, but I haven’t heard of Aftermath. It sounds good. I just watched Last Night in Soho. It’s a haunted person story mixed up with a mystery, quite enjoyable!

    • Ooh! That sounds AWESOME. I will put LAST NIGHT IN SOHO on my list. I’m a junkie with ghost and haunted house movies. Even if they’re not great–and I’ve seen plenty of bad ones I wouldn’t recommend–I still enjoy them. Thanks for the rec!

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