The house is as much of a character in horror movies as the ghosts. The title The Fall of the House of Usher (1928), House that Dripped Blood(71), House of Haunted Hill (59), and House  all indicate the centrality of the domestic setting within the plot.
There is a complete taxonomy of horror house types, enough to make an entire movie category. The haunted home is where ghosts of past residents, zombies, or poltergeists can be found. The house can be exorcised or cleansed if it is in these situations. In The Shining (1980), Stanley Kubrick moved fear from the home to the hotel. This huge abandoned building, which becomes a dangerous influence on Jack Nicholson’s mental state, makes Jack Nicholson feel even more stressed.
There are films in which the house acts as a trauma site but becomes affected by it. This is The Exorcist (1973), The Sixth Sense (1999).
You will also find houses where the residents do not know that they are dead or have ghosts ( The Other, 2001). There may be cases where the former residents dislike the newcomers and decide they want to haunt them. ( Beetlejuice 1998).
There are many houses where bad things were stored in the basement and attic. Each one is a metaphor for your subconscious, a space to forget the worst memories of the past. Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), based on an Edward Hopper painting, depicts a beautiful house where a skeleton is found in the attic.
It doesn’t always have to be the neighbors. Rosemary’s Baby (1968), set in New York’s eerie and prestigious Dakota Building. This is as close as an apartment block gets to a haunted house. However, aside from a secret passage, the problem was with the neighbors of Satanists, rather than the building.
Other times, however, the house itself can be a manifestation of evil. Fear is embedded in its walls. The house in The Amityville Horror (1979), constructed on a site of mass murder and burial ground, is an example. These are the ones we find most frightening since the house is a symbol of domesticity.
The idea of a haunted or house of horror in movies was a Gothic fantasy. It was either the expressionist sets for Dr. Caligari (21), Dracula (31), or the gothic horror of the Innocents (1961), which were old houses with creaky floorboards and cobwebs. These places are full of memories as well as the psychic and physical artifacts of past residents.
These were mansions with eccentric aunts or bodies in the basement. It was the same thing the Addams Family, The Munsters loved so much in the 1960s. They weren’t the houses we lived in, but they were what we imagined would be haunted.
In the 1970s, these melodramatic remnants were replaced with more normal houses. Horror was brought closer to home. The horror moved to suburbia, whether it was a haunted home or a psychotic individual threatening a community. The suburban home has been the default setting for horror’s slasher sub-genres, including Halloween (1978), Poltergeist (1982), and A Nightmare on Elm Street(84).
The suburb was designed to feel safe. It’s a reaction to the fear that the city can cause – an anodyne, predictable alternative to the chaotic urban environment with its mixed society, crime, and social life. However, the city offers a feeling of nearness that the suburb doesn’t. Despite its appearance of cozy domesticity, the suburb can still feel alienating.
The odd thing about the suburb is its idea, archetype, and it’s more than a place. Because one suburb is similar to another, it seems like it has a certain universality. The Stepford Wives (1975), is a manifestation suburban in human form. This was the crystallization rather than messy reality (represented by the city). It’s no accident that the iconic image from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), the year Halloween), shows a group of zombies wandering in a shopping center pushing their carts. Like many horror films, their core message is a critique of something about how we live. Romero’s is about the culture of consumption, the atomization, and the suburbanization of our experience. We live apart but act the same. We are already the living Dead.
However, horror isn’t just for Hollywood. In the chilling Juon: The Grudge(2002), an evil girl haunts a Tokyo apartment. While in The Ring(2002) a young girl emerges from behind the TV. This is an update to the ax at door. The TV is the nexus for suburban homes.
Tower Block and Cockneys (2012) created fear in housing estates. Be Afraid of the Dark (2010), by Guillermo del Toro, is Mexican horror legend Guillermo del Toro’s contribution to this genre along with his other gothic nightmares, such as Pan’s Labyrinth (2007). A horror/thriller movie often tells you that the baddie is coming for you at your home. The home should be a place where you feel safe and secure.
Because it assumes that the lingering psychic trauma of the home is tangible, this psychogeography is interesting. Who knows what may have occurred in a home? Estate agents are required to inform potential buyers about neighbor disputes over drains or hedges. However, they cannot tell them about possible murders. It is not rational to say that there is no fear or tingle in recognizing a traumatized house. Our homes are like receptors. They are so deeply connected with our daily lives, and our images, memories, and families, that their destruction is frowned upon. In extreme cases, the Scariest haunted house in Ohio can be a portal into hell or another dimension.
It’s not surprising that no one tried to make Mark Z Danielewski’s novel House of Leaves(2000) into movies. It’s about a house that changes its shape and descends into an ever-expanding dark pit. Will Wiles’s amazing new book The Way Inn, A Novel plays with the idea of a hotel. He uses the banality and universality that the hotel interior offers to create a homey feeling while remaining neutral.
The best horror movies can help us to understand our fears and surroundings. We all have imagined footsteps following us down the stairs. We rush up to the safety of the duvet and are not sure why. The movies show that the home is an extension of ourselves, and its security is sacred. Ghosts, demons, and poltergeists all exist and are living among us. Fear is something we can feel as much as outside.