After a lengthy wait drenched with anticipation, it’s finally here: Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Potter project. Hoorah! Based off of the novel of the same name, The Woman in Black follows a young lawyer (DanRad, natch) who leaves his home in London to settle the affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drablow. Of course, though, he ends up in hotter water than he would have thought, getting embroiled in an eerie tale of danger, woe, and—of course—ghosts. Here, take a peek at the trailer:
Creepy, right? The story of The Woman in Black has had a long and healthy life; the novel was first published in 1983, a stage adaptation has been playing in London’s West End since 1989 (and still plays today), a television movie was produced of it, and finally it’s seeing a big screen release on February 3rd (that’s tomorrow!) in cinemas everywhere. So to celebrate, we thought we’d introduce you to a whole bunch of other spooky, ghost-tacular films. We’re going less for high-octane scares here and more for the subtle sort of eeriness that will stick with you even if you think it won’t. Some of them are fairly recent; others are older; but all of them are quite unnerving indeed.
Be sure to scare yourself silly with The Woman in Black, in theaters this weekend! You can sleep with the lights on. We promise we won’t tell anyone.
1. The Others (2001)
Partly inspired by Henry James’ classic novella The Turn of the Screw, The Others capitalizes on just how creepy it can be to put something down in one place, then find it somewhere entirely different later. This goes for everything from objects to all of the curtains in your house. The Others is largely about memory, which can be a tricky—and a spooky—thing. Nicole Kidman’s two creepy can’t-be-left-in-the-sunlight kids help, too.
2. The Gift (2000)
The Gift has the somewhat dubious honor of being the one film that I know of in which Keanu Reeves is actually good. Cate Blanchett plays Annabelle “Annie” Wilson, a Southern widowed mother of three who also happens to be her Georgia town’s resident “fortune teller.” When Jessica King (Katie Holmes), the fiancée of the school’s principal (Greg Kinnear), goes missing, she ends up getting drawn into the search—in more ways than one. An ensemble cast featuring Hilary Swank, Giovanni Ribisi, and Rosemary Harris among many, many others gives knockout performances, and director Sam Raimi, not usually known for his subtlety, brings a delicate touch to Annie’s “gift.”
3. The Haunting (1963)
No, not the 1999 travesty; I’m talking about the 1963 classic here. Based off of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House (which, by the way, is one of my favorite books ever), The Haunting follows the story of Eleanor “Nell” Lance (Julie Harris), Theodora, known as Theo (Claire Bloom), and Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn, who happens to be Amber Tamblyn’s father) as they assist Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) in his investigations into the paranormal. As soon as they meet up at the forbidding Hill House, though, a whole bunch of weird things start happening, most which seem to be centered around Nell. The beauty of both the novel and this adaptation of it is the ambiguity surrounding everything: Are there actual ghosts? Is Nell going nuts? You decide! One thing’s for sure: Whatever walks at Hill House… walks alone.
4. The Orphanage (2007)
The Orphanage is a horror film in the same way that Pan’s Labyrinth is a fantasy film: That’s what it looks like on the surface, but there’s a lot more going on underneath. Creepy kids, a former orphanage, a child ghost with a sack over its head… this one has it all. The Spanish children’s game “Uno, Dos, Tres, Toca la Pared”—roughly, “One, Two, Three, Knock on the Wall,” similar to Red Light, Green Light—factors prominently in the story, and believe you me, the pivotal scene that centers around it towards the end will scare you silly.
5. Gaslight (1944)
You’ve heard of the term “gaslighting,” right? You know: That horrible form of psychological abuse which involves presenting a victim with false information in order to doubt their memory, perception, and sanity? Gaslight—and the 1938 play of the same name on which it was based—is where it comes from. In addition to featuring Charles Boyer slowly trying to drive Ingrid Bergman insane, it’s also got a very young Angela Lansbury in her screen debut. Chilling.
More creeptastic ghost films, including The Devil’s Backbone and The Shining, up next!