Common Themes: Haunted Houses

First big thing I wanted to say before I forget is thank you to everyone who is following the blog. I’m so happy and excited and shook that a lot of people are following and don’t worry, the energy will be reciprocated! I’m just so behind on so many things, it’s insane. But I did want to say that on this blog and also on Instagram. If you’re not following me on instagram (and my journey into my horror book collection at this point), you should cos it can be very, very random every day!

Okay, that was my big announcement!

Now secondly, onto the topic of this week. You know, how we love our horror, we put them into categories. We have our psychological, slasher, occasional musical, supernatural, and the list goes on and on. So out of all of them, I wanted to randomly pick one that I can play with. So haunted houses, pretty popular in horror, possibly one of the bigger subgenres under the horror umbrella but there are more things in common with haunted houses that I don’t think we think about.

Are they all the same? ALMOST. Let’s talk about it!


Here are our titles that I have come up with:

13 Ghosts (1960) or also Thirteen Ghosts (2001)
Poltergeist (1982)
The Conjuring (2013)
Hell House (2015)
Terrified (2017)
Beetlejuice* (1988)
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Paranormal Activity (2007)
The Evil Dead (1981)
The Amityville Horror (1979)
The Haunting (1963)
The Changeling (1980)
Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
Pet Sematary* (1989)

Now these films have a lot of things in common: the biggest is that they are all haunted houses or haunted adjacent. But that’s not all. I broke them down further. Other themes within haunted houses have are: terrified-e1538655503985-700x322

  • Trauma” – Something bad happens, it just leaves an imprint and repeatable energy like in Ju-on: The Grudge, The Amityville Horror, Terrified, The Changeling, Thirteen Ghosts and in a way, Pet Sematary.
  • Death” – Anyone who dies in a home, there’s a chance of attachment. Look to Hell House, Beetlejuice, The Changeling, The Amityville Horror.
  • Curses” – This could go under “burial grounds” but I thought of The Evil Dead.
  • Indian” burial grounds” – These are not a real thing okay? But also, Poltergeist and Pet Sematary.
  • The Chosen” – This one me comes off as there is one character, always ONE, that is positioned to be the main focus of the story. Everything happens to THIS character and that character only. I think of Katie from Paranormal Activity, and maybe Poltergeist as well.
  • It’s the ONE House” – Unless you are Terrified and it’s a neighborhood but did you guys know of Dudleytown?
  • Suburbs” – Do any of these take place in the city? NOPE. It’s a small town that can be an option too. Poltergeist, The Conjuring, 13 Ghosts, Terrified, Paranormal Activity, The Amityville Horror, The Changeling…
  • The Mystic Figure” – They explain exposition and are “saviors” and possibly die. The Conjuring, Poltergeist, Pet Sematary.
  • Typical white family” – Terrified is the only one that isn’t about white people in horror. EVERYONE ELSE IS.

So now I have to wonder, can a haunted house movie exist without ANY of these involved? And honestly, no. It wouldn’t even be considered that subgenre to begin with. I’m trying to picture Poltergeist as just a film with no skeletons in the pool, no clown, no kid taken to another dimension, just a family having some bad luck. petsematary_5

Pet Sematary might still be the same story, both couples being haunted and terrified from their pasts but Church lives, Gage lives, but the trauma still remains. Except there’s no “Indian burial ground”, no pet sematary. Just a couple going through things that can be borderline disturbing at times for the audience.

I love haunted houses in horror, I think they are fun and can be very unique if executed right. Not every movie needs ALL of these things listed above, and I’m happy that a lot of them don’t. They can all vary from ratings to being more family driven and focused to couples on their own to strangers having to confront and deal with the traumas of their environment.

What are some of your favorite haunted houses and their “tropes?” Leave a comment below! That’s the good word to use, trope. Ahh it’s too late to change, you get it!

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