Ghost Horror

What is Ghost Horror?

Ghosts have homes too, and they don't like intruders. They also make terrible house guests. This is not so much a subgenre of horror as it is a plot device or element of the story.

Ghosts are often very angry in horror stories--usually motivated by revenge. They haunt condemned and occupied houses, take control of technology and toys to use as killing tools, and employ many other skills to torment people. A few examples of these scenarios would be these movies: Child's Play, Christine, and The Shining. Not all ghosts are bad though; some serve as the heroes of the story or as secondary characters that help the protagonist in some way. Ghosts can either materialize in to a form that is seen to the human eye, or can choose to remain invisible.


Characteristics of Ghost Horror

Level of Characterization
Moderate-High. The sanity of the characters are often tested. Sometimes characters are revealed to have supernatural abilities.   

Level of Plot Complexity
Low-Moderate. Often revolves around one or more ghosts tormenting a group of people. Strong supernatural elements can make the plot a little more complex.

Level of Supernatural
High. Ghosts are supernatural creatures.

Level of Scary
Moderate-High. Overtones of paranoia and high tension.

Level of Violence 
Moderate. The violence is extreme or graphic.

Typical Setting
Often in a ominous building such as: a hotel, mansion, farm house, etc. 

Related Horror Sub-Genres

Overlaps heavily with English Gothic in terms of tone, setting, characters, etc.


Ghosts are Supernatural creatures, but the characters can contain some of the same qualities.


Mind-Control is sometimes seen in Ghost stories.

Ghost Horror Isn’t For You If You Dislike

Supernatural creatures, haunted houses, ghosts (duh), things that go bump in the night. Creepy stories.


    1. The Shining, Stephen King. Danny has psychic abilities that intensify when him and his family move to a haunted hotel for the winter.

    2. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson. Four seekers have come an old, abandoned mansion looking for evidence of the psychic occurrence called haunting.

    3. Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill. An ageing rock star buys a ghost from the internet.

    4. 20th Century Ghosts, Joe Hill. A collection of short stories. “20th Century Ghost”, a touching story about a haunted movie theater and other stories.

    5. The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde. An American family moves into a British mansion, Canterville Chase, much to the annoyance its tired ghost.

    6. Doctor Sleep, Stephen King. Danny Torrance, the little boy from The Shining, grows up. A little girl, Abra Stone has the shining as well, and is being hunted by a pack of psychic vampires who want to take her life essence, called “steam,” so they can persevere. 

    7. The Woman in Black, Susan Hill. A lone lawyer goes to a spooky house on the marshes, plagued by stories of madness and death.

    8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman. An unnamed narrator returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Dark and terrifying memories from his childhood flood his brain when sees a pond that girl, Lettie Hempstock claimed was as ocean behind an old farmhouse.

    9. Joyland, Stephen King.  Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murderer.

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