Editor’s Picks: Spooky, Non-Graphic Ghost Stories

I love scary movies, but not gory ones, and that leaves me out for most modern horror movies. Still, every now and then some unorthodox filmmaker will produce a traditional, gothic haunted house story and do it well. Here are three that are definitely worth a look if you share my love of the scary, but distaste for the gore.

The Others (PG-13, 4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99 to rent in SD / $3.99 to rent in HD; not currently available for purchase in Amazon Video format)

On Amazon, the film is described like this:
Screen sensation Nicole Kidman delivers an utterly unforgettable performance in this scary and stylish thriller! While awaiting her husband’s return from war, Grace (Kidman) and her two young children live an unusually isolated existence behind the locked doors and drawn curtains of a secluded island mansion.

Here’s the official trailer:

 

 

There’s not much more I can say about the plot without spoilers, and this is a movie with multiple twists so spoilers are definitely to be avoided. All the performances are excellent, there’s no gore or violence, and yet it’s a movie that can conjure up some real scares.

 

The Woman in Black (PG-13, 3.5/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99 to rent in SD / $3.99 in HD; $9.99 to own in SD / $12.99 to own in HD; currently included in the Amazon Prime catalog.)

This one is very creepy and atmospheric, very much a ghost story in the traditional sense.

On Amazon:
Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a widowed lawyer, is sent to a remote village to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased eccentric. But upon his arrival, it soon becomes clear that the house belonging to his client is haunted by the ghost of a woman out to seek vengeance.

Here’s the trailer:

 

 

Some reviewers have downgraded this movie as “slow” or “not scary”, but I think that’s just because we’ve gotten so used to in-your-face horror and gore that it can be difficult to appreciate a thriller that relies more on setting and characterization than special effects.

Radcliffe is very believable in his role, and the old manor house is appropriately remote, run-down and filled with creepy decor of its past residents.

 

The Woman in Black (R, 3.5/5 stars, currently priced at $3.99 to rent in SD / $4.99 in HD; $14.99 to own in SD or HD)

From Amazon:
From director Guillermo del Toro comes a supernatural mystery. Between desire and darkness, between mystery and madness, lies the truth behind Crimson Peak.

The basic plot involves Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille, highborn British who’ve fallen on hard times and come to America to seek backing for Thomas’ mining operation. When Thomas meets the lovely, intelligent but naive Edith (Mia Wasikowska), it seems like love at first sight. But when tragedy hastens their romance to marriage and Edith accompanies Thomas back to his estate in England, she soon learns the dilapidated manse they’ll call home is filled with secrets and ghosts.

Here’s the trailer:

 

 

For fans of historical fiction this one would be worth seeing just for the sumptuous sets and gorgeous costumes, but the cast does not disappoint. The R rating is primarily for suggestive sexual content and language, though there are some stabbings and of course, with Guillermo Del Toro you know there will be some amazing visual effects.

Like The Woman In Black, in the eyes of modern horror/splatterfest fans this movie pales by comparison to bloodier and gorier films, and the movie’s average review rating reflects that. But if you enjoy a slow-burn gothic thriller set in a world that’s both beautiful and creepy to look at, this film will not disappoint.

 

I can personally recommend any or all of these for a scary night in!

 

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