In some horror films, demonic possession is a popular plot device, but which films fall into this category do you think are the scariest and most effective?
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For decades, filmmakers have been fascinated by the idea of demonic possession. In today’s horror movies, demons are still a major plot device, and the genre continues to draw a sizable following. There are a wide variety of demon movies to pick from for those who want to explore the domain of dark spirits and scary contortionists.
Mark Birrell made the following update on April 24th, 2021: The supernatural and demons play a major role in horror films, making it one of the genre’s oldest subgenres. The Exorcist’s use of demonic possession as a plot device has had a long and varied history. It’s been used in everything from dramas to comedies to documentaries. A list of the best horror films using the concept and where to watch them is provided below. Even if you’re not a big lover of horror movies, there should be something here for you.
1. Jennifer’s Body (2009) Available on Starz
A cult has sprung up around Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer Body, a film she directed in 2009 that didn’t instantly connect with audiences but has subsequently done so thanks to the film’s exploration of a young woman’s death as a ritualistic offering by a Satanic Indie Band.
A wicked and vicious demon succubus has taken residence in Jennifer’s body, and it is feeding on her classmates as her best friend struggles to live with what she has become.
On Tubi and Crackle, 19 Luz (2018) is currently available.
2. Luz (2018) Available on Tubi and Crackle
German demonic horror film Luz follows the titular cab driver as she is suspiciously questioned by police following an accident that leads to an evening of diabolical dread.
Desperate to get closer to her, a demon Luz summoned in her youth has taken over new bodies to pursue her in this wonderfully photographed, fascinating mind-bender that horror aficionados of demons won’t want to miss.
3. Demons (1985) Available on MUBI
During a free screening at a recently reopened movie theater, a scary movie with objects seen in the lobby sets off an invasion of otherworldly demons who begin terrifyingly possessing the audience in 1985’s Demons by Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento.
In a film laden with gore and brutality that will appeal to fans of comparable Italian horror classics, these demonic possessions come with dramatic physical transformations that spread among the attacked viewers as the theater gets swamped.
4. Night of the Demons (1988) Available on Shout! Factory TV and Pluto TV
The 1988 film Night of the Demons, which follows a lot of traditional horror clichés as a group of teenagers attend a party in an abandoned funeral home that turns into a demon-filled carnage, isn’t the best-reviewed demon horror movie audiences have ever seen.
She continues to spread the possession and aggressively wipe out all other costumed visitors in a breathtakingly gory method, which even inspired a 2009 remake of the same name, but the original is considerably greater.
5. Event Horizon (1997) Available on Cinemax
While the majority of demonic infestations occur within persons, there are other films that examine demonically possessed houses, or in the instance of 1997’sEvent Horizon, an abandoned starship..
Rescue and salvage crews board a long-lost spacecraft known as theEvent Horizon after a distress signal is issued from the ship and begin experiencing horrible visions that show where the ship has gone, and why it has returned for more victims.
6. The Evil Dead (1981) Available on Cinemax
An approach to demonic possession was taken in The Evil Dead by Sam Raimi. Students from Michigan State University traveled to a lonely cabin in the woods for the film. An ancient book known as the Natural Demanto, also known as the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, was discovered in the cabin. Demonic powers invade the cottage after a recorded tape of incantations is played.
Taking possession is far faster than the creeping fear that occurred in The Exorcist. Possessed students are used by the demons to assault the living As a result, the Evil Dead contains some disturbing images, including one involving a tree. In subsequent films in the series, the demonic horror components are more prominently featured with the comedy.
7. The Conjuring (2013) Available on Netflix and HBO Max
The Conjuring showcases James Wan’s mastery of the horror genre. The film depicts a family moving into a new house, where they begin to see unexplained phenomena. Initially, it sounds like a typical ghost story, but things take an unexpected turn.
The Warrens, Ed and Lorraine, are called in to help the family grasp what is going on in their home. As a demonic spirit takes hold of the matriarch, the family learns the dark past of their new house. A sequel and a number of spin-offs followed the success of the original film. For its mastery of both scares and building tension, it was hailed as one of the best horror films ever made.
8. Paranormal Activity (2007) Available on Starz
With its low-budget yet terrifying shocks, Paranormal Activity re-ignited the found-footage film genre with a bang. The film focuses on a couple who are plagued by unexplained phenomena in their home.
They eventually record the “activities” of this entity in the nighttime. They are shocked to realize that something out of the ordinary is taking place. In any case, this isn’t your usual haunting. The occupants of their home have been taken over by a demon.
9. The Amityville Horror (1979) Available on HBO Max
The Amityville Horror, like The Exorcist, was based on purported occurrences that took place in the house. During the early stages of this drama, Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s horrible murder of the DeFeo family in 1974 was central. As soon as a new family comes in, they begin to notice unexplained occurrences around the house.
The haunting escalates until the father is enraged and tries to murder his own family because of some other influence. The possessed patriarch’s rage is a major source of the film’s terror.
10. Annabelle: Creation (2017) Available on HBO Max
At the beginning of The Conjuring, a deranged doll gained notoriety and was the subject of a spin-off film, but three separate spin-off films. Canonically, Annabelle: Creation took place before the first Annabelle movie, despite its chronological placement in the Annabelle trilogy.
Annabelle: Creation of a Monster follows a dollmaker and his wife after the tragic death of their only child in a car accident. A Catholic orphanage uses their home later in life. At some point in time, one of the daughters realizes that their closet is full of dolls. The doll, however, is linked to an evil spirit that is searching for a host.
11. Insidious (2010) Available on Netflix
It’s another demonic possession horror classic from James Wan, Insidious, but this one takes a different approach. Boy goes catatonic in this film for no apparent reason. An evil spirit has been found to be haunting him and causing unusual events in the house.
While he sleeps, the boy is able to travel to another spiritual realm. Other ghosts prevent him from returning to his body one night. The catatonic boy’s family is terrorized by a demon and other ghosts as they all want to possess his body.
12. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) Available on Starz
Exorcism of Emily Rose is another film with a weak connection to reality. As the priest who performed an exorcism on Emily Rose is on trial for her subsequent death, the film is framed from a litigious standpoint. Testimony during the trial provides insight into the full scope of the experience.
Flashbacks of Emily’s possession are frequently exhibited by the priest in court when he recalls the incidents. This was one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen.
13. The Last Exorcism (2010) Available on HBO Max
A found-footage video captures a reverend’s attempt to establish that exorcisms are a hoax through the eyes of two witnesses. The reverend discloses that he has faked exorcisms on people who simply believed they were possessed.
There’s a film following the trio as they attempt to perform an exorcism on a farmer’s daughter who’s allegedly killing his livestock because she’s possessed. The narrative simply gets weirder and more unsettling from here on out.
14. The Possession (2012) Available on Netflix
As a result of Christian beliefs and practices, the majority of demonic possession movies originate. The Possession, on the other hand, uses a dybbuk box from Jewish folklore as its focal point.
When a young girl gets into possession of the box, the evil spirit that resides within it slowly begins to take control of her, preying on the turmoil in her family’s existence caused by the strained relationship between her two parents. This is a considerably more vulnerable character for Jeffrey Dean Morgan than many horror fans are used to seeing him play as the movie’s leading man. In addition, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, the original Evil Deadcreators, have added a few flourishes to make it one of the best PG-13 horror films of recent years.
15. The Devil’s Candy (2015) Available on Hulu
They are forever changed when they move into a house that had previously been the residence of a serial killer who seemed to be driven by demons.
As the spectator gets to know the family at the core of the story, the horrifying events become even more gruesome because of the audience’s familiarity with them. Even without the demons, this is one of the scariest demon flicks of all time, thanks to the gory finale. Even the most jaded of horror movie fans will remember Pruitt Taylor Vince’s portrayal as the scary killer Raymond Smilie.
16. Noroi: The Curse (2005) Available on Shudder
Noroi, a cult favorite among horror movie lovers, is certainly one of the best, and scariest, demon movies ever filmed.
It is a captivating and sweeping story about unexplained supernatural phenomena and possession through the use of documentary footage from a paranormal researcher. As a horror enthusiast, you should definitely see this film. It’s one of the best demon movies and a modern horror classic.
17. Prince of Darkness (1987) Available to buy on Amazon Prime Video
Many John Carpenter films are underappreciated, and Prince of Darkness remains one of the most underappreciated from his game-changing oeuvre.
An ancient tradition describes the bodily manifestation of the Devil as a terrifying cylinder containing an unknown substance. This film analyzes demonic possession from an exceptionally scientific standpoint. Metaphysical themes and body horror give it a particular personality.
18. The Exorcist (1973) Available on HBO Max, Cinemax, and Tubi
The iconic 1973 film by William Friedkin
For demonic possession movies, The Exorcist is certainly the first name that comes to mind. Pazuzu, a demon that has taken hold of a 12-year-old girl, is the focus of the story. When it was first released, the film frightened spectators.
Pazuzu’s demonic face is shown in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it demonic glow by the film’s directors. Fear-induced nausea was a common reaction among audience members in 1973.
19. The Exorcist III (1990) Available on Peacock
William Peter Blatty, the original author and screenwriter of The Exorcist, provided some rescue to the franchise’s reputation with an adaptation of another of his novels following the bad reception of Exorcist II: The Heretic in 1977.
With the original movie’s storyline, but focusing more on Father Karras’s fate, The Exorcist IIIis both a terrifying and theologically stimulating experience, with Blatty’s dialogue-driven style making a lot of the horror stem more from a meeting between philosophical ideas and the audience’s imagination.
20. Hereditary (2018) Available on Showtime
This chilling film portrays a demonic entity invading a family and attempting to take control of its host. A 13-year-old girl named Charlie and a 16-year-old boy named Peter are the subjects of Annie Graham’s film. There’s something ominous lurking in the house after Annie’s mother dies, and Charlie isn’t the only one feeling its effects.
While watching the film, the audience is introduced to a horribly tragic event that sets the stage for a growing demonic nightmare. This movie had some of the best acting I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for the scariest monster movies this Halloween, Hereditary is a must-see.