Perhaps an exorcism is one of the most iconic occurrences in horror movies. I remember that as a child, long before Netflix and Hulu and it modern movies, I was fascinated by movies about Demon possessions & Exorcisms or anything to do with the occult. The more ancient and mysterious the performed rituals the better. Nothing is better for horror than religious rituals, and in Hollywood horrors, Catholic Rituals have proven to be the most effective. Welcome to the world of the occult: crucifixes, ancient chants, Satan’s clever tricks, and horrific demonic voices. We have listed the best Exorcist movies and demon possessions movies of all time. And we have listed whether they are available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or any other streaming service.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
This horror film helmed by Scott Derrickson is not your common exorcism movie. The story, written by Derrickson, Paul Harris Boardman, and Nikhilesh Mehra, is based on the real life story of Anneliese Michel. Derrickson said that he himself believes in exorcism but Boardman is skeptical about the whole thing. These opposing views make for an interesting view presented in the film. The “exorcism” scenes of Jennifer Carpenter were not CGI and no special effects were used. So unnerving is this film that it landed on the Chicago Film Critics Association’s Top 100 Scariest Films Ever Made.
Streaming options: Amazon Video, Fandango, Vudu & Itunes
The Rite (2011)
Mikael Hafstrom and Michael Petroni tag teamed on this supernatural horror film. It is inspired by the real life events of Father Gary Thomas who studied exorcism under an exorcism priest in Rome. Father Thomas was available on set to guide how the scene actually played out. Hafstrom himself attended real-life exorcisms, listening outside where it was conducted. More than a horror story, the film is more about the journey of Michael Kovak in finding himself.
Streaming options: Itunes, Amazon Video, Direct TV Cinema & Google
Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession received mixed reviews when it came out in 1981. With many different genres in play, it was difficult to peg it as one genre. Penned by Zulawski while going through divorce, it is reflected in the film’s blood and gore scenes. The film is about infidelity and crimes of passion. Quite disturbing, it took lead actress Isabelle Adjani a while to fully recover from playing the role.
Streaming options: None, only available on DVD.
The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
Helmed by Adam Robitel in his directorial debut, it follows 3 filmmakers documenting a patient with Alzheimer’s. But of course it is not just Alzheimer’s that causes the patient’s unusually terrifying behaviour. The film received mostly positive reviews, with some critics saying that this film offers a unique take by combining Alzheimer’s with possession. While some psychological thrillers provide a sort of closure at the end of the film, this doesn’t.
Deliver Us From Evil (2014)
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Scott Derrickson, the makers claim the film is based on actual events, off the book of Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool entitled Beware the Night. It did quite well at the box office earning USD 87 million, with a budget of USD 30 million. However, the fans and critics were not so impressed. All the right elements for a suspense is present but they are all too-familiar and often used. The film’s saving grace is the powerful performance rendered by the cast, led by Eric Bana.
Streaming options: Itunes, Fandango, Vudu & Many more
The Shining (1980)
Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same title, the movie version is brought to life by Stanley Kubrick with a powerful cast led by Jack Nicholson. Kubrick worked his cast and crew to the bone to get that perfect scene. Filming took a year to complete, with 15-hour work days. All the hard work surely paid off. It has been dubbed as one of the greatest horror films ever made. Not to mention its impact on pop culture. However, when the movie was released, critics were not so happy with the slow pace of the movie. Fast-forward 20, 30 years, critics are singing a different tune, lauding the film for its disturbing feel.
Streaming options: Amazon Video, iTunes, Youtube, Microsoft & Many More
Prince of Darkness (1987)
John Carpenter is the mastermind behind this epic possession story. This is the second offering in Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy. He was into theoretical physics and atomic theory when he was inspired to write the storyline for the Prince of Darkness. Singer Alice Cooper wrote a song for the film and played one of the zombies in the movie. Unfortunately, critics were not too happy with the film but it has a strong cult following.
The House of the Devil (2009)
Writer and director Ti West combines slasher and haunted house genres in The House of the Devil. Set in the 80s, West used cameras and techniques of the era, which earned good reviews from critics. The film earned some awards from film festivals like Best Picture, Best Score, and Best Actress. The film is successful in building tension and suspense without being boring. The movie claims to have based its story on actual events.
Insidious by James Wan is Wan’s way of proving that he can create a horror film without much blood and gore. This follows the success of his first Saw movie in 2004. Wan wanted to present the film that will give you a slow, creepy feel, as against a blow-you-out-of-your-mind-over-the-top atmosphere. The musical score is the perfect accompaniment as it is quite subtle but it slowly builds tension. This film was so successful that it became a franchise, coming out with Chapters 2, 3, and 4 (The Last Key). With a budget of USD 1.5 million, it grossed USD 97 million in total.
You can watch Insidious online for free via Crackle!
The Amityville Horror (1979)
The Amityville Horror is the 9th film in this franchise. Based on Jay Anson’s novel of the same name, this remake of the 1979 film is directed by Andrew Douglas. This novel was based on the supposed experiences of George Lutz’ family when they moved into Amityville house in the 70s. When the real George Lutz got wind of the news about the remake, he demanded that the film company could not do the remake without consulting him. A legal battle ensued. However, Lutz died in 2006 while the case was ongoing so it remained unresolved.
The Conjuring (2013)
Another James Wan winner, The Conjuring earned USD 319 million at the box office, versus its USD 20 million budget. It took producer Tony DeRosa-Grund 14 years to get the film into production. Many changes were made to the production and script. Several movie outfits bid on it and after much ado, eventually, New Line Cinema clinched the deal. The cast and crew closely worked with the real Ed and Lorraine Warren to catch details about the story and their character. It was also said that Lorraine Warren visited the set a few times. When the MPAA gave it an R-rating, the producers sought to change it. However, they were told that, if further cuts were made, the story would lose its essence. As it is, the story was “just too scary.” The film came out with a sequel and talks are ongoing regarding a 3rd movie.
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Video, Playstation, Itunes & Many more
The Evil Dead (1981)
The Evil Dead is a Sam Raimi original that operated on a USD 90,000 budget. Through the help of producer Irvin Shapiro, the film was part of the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. It caught the eye of noted writer Stephen King who lauded the film. It was not a box office smash in the US but it did excellently abroad, raking in USD 27 million. It undoubtedly put Sam Raimi on the map and instantly developed a cult following. It is considered one of the greatest horror films ever made and resulted into 2 sequels, comic books, video games, and a TV series.
The Possession (2012)
Another Sam Raimi film but with Ole Bornedal at the helm, it has an all-star cast led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Natasha Calis, and Kyra Sedgewick. Raimi was offered the real dybbuk box by the owner, Jason Haxton. Raimi politely declined as he was fearful of the thing. The rest of the production team shared the same sentiments. They relayed weird things that happened during and after filming but they just chalk it up to coincidence. Though it did not get good reviews from critics, it still did quite well at the box office, earning USD 85 million against a budget of USD 14 million.
Night of the Demons (1988)
This 1988 horror blockbuster is directed by Kevin Tenney and written and produced by Joe Augustyn. With only a USD 1-million-dollar budget, it pocketed USD 3 million on opening night. Even when the reviews were bad, it still developed a cult following. Critics were harsh, saying the film is full of cliches. But, a few years after its release, critics lauded it for its entertainment value, especially with its combination of zombies and slashers.
The Requiem is actually considered as a drama since it is focused on the struggles of the lead character, Michaela Klinger, with epilepsy. However, director Hans-Christian Schmid weaved the story about how people misunderstood it as demonic possession. The film was well-received by critics and the public alike, citing the relatable and effective performance of Sandra Huller as Michaela. The movie was shown in Germany in 2006 and was released internationally in the following years. It won several awards, including Best Film, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume Design, and Best Sound Design.
The Wailing (2016)
Written and directed by Na Hong-jin, The Wailing is a Korean horror box office hit. Many critics are singing their praises, saying this film about demonic possession is not your run-of-the-mill movie. It is fresh and takes you for a spin with all its twists and turns. There are reports of creating a British remake in 2017. The movie did its usual rounds in film festivals and bagged a few awards including Best Director for Na Hong-jin, who actually won 6x out of 9 nominations.
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Video & Many more
The Exorcist 3: Legion (1990)
Written and directed by William Peter Blatty, it is the 3rd part of the Exorcist trilogy. It does not make any reference to Part 2, but instead focuses on Lieutenant William Kinderman of Part 1. He investigates serial murders instigated by demon possession. Some convicted serial killers in the US admitted to getting inspiration from the film prior their heinous acts. Critics blasted the exorcism scene, which was actually demanded by the producers. Blatty wanted to make his own directorial cut but they could not retrieve the edited scenes. However, his dream came true in 2016 when he was able to come out with a director’s cut through Scream Factory.
The Priests (2015)
Another creepy possession movie comes from South Korea via writer-director Jang Jae-hyun. It was a box office success in Korea, earning 35 billion won (USD 312,000) in 3 weeks. Actress Park So-dam won Best Actress for her role as Young-shin, the main character of the film. This is Jang Jae-hyun’s take on the movie, The Exorcist. It got positive reviews from moviegoers with its engaging and glued-to-your-seats possession scenes.
Francis Lawrence debuts as a director with this movie about the eternal fight between good and evil. Leading the powerhouse cast is Keanu Reeves playing the title role. As early as 1997, producer Lauren Shuler Donner already had the story but it took several years to assemble the production crew and cast. Liberties were taken to change different aspects of the main character and the storyline. The film is based on the Hellblazer, a comic book by DC Comics. The film was a box office success, pocketing USD 230.9 million worldwide, and led to a TV series spin-off.
Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza tag teamed on this found footage horror flick, which was a blockbuster and won the critics over. It paved the way to have a REC franchise, 3 sequels, and remakes in the US. The story is told from a first-person point of view, engaging and pulling you into the scene. Even when the scenes are too scary, you still cannot make yourself look away because you do not want to miss what is going to happen next. REC is considered one of the best horror films of the decade. It won several awards including Best Picture (at least 3x), Best Director, and Best Actress (actress Manuela Velasco won 2x).
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Rosemary’s Baby is considered one of the best horror movies ever. This classic was written and directed by Roman Polanski, heavily based on Ira Levin’s novel of the same name. Robert Evans, the Paramount executive handling the production, wooed Polanski to direct this film by offering 2 projects, this one and a movie about skiing (Polanski is a ski buff). Polanski became so enamored by the novel that he decided to make Rosemary’s Baby and wanted to write it as well. And this became Polanski’s US film debut. It paved the way for other black magic and satanic movies. The film garnered several awards, including an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Ruth Gordon. The rape scene in the movie is considered as one of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
Director Lamberto Bava worked with producer Dario Argento to bring to the table this Italian horror classic. It became a success that it spawned 6 sequels. Featuring songs by Billy Idol, Motley Crue, Rick Springfield, Go West, etc. Though critics slammed the movie for its lack of logic and the ho-hum performance of the cast, moviegoers still lapped it up because of its blood and gore sequences. Interestingly, the film is included in the 100 Scariest Movie Moments list.
The Babadook (2014)
Jennifer Kent’s first foray into film directing produced this psychological thriller, based on Kent’s short film, Monster. The film was only supposed to run for a limited time in Australia but it garnered a lot of attention, thanks to its participation at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It was later released in the US and in Europe where it was a commercial success. It took home USD 7.5 million, considering that the film only cost USD 2 million to produce. The producers worked hard to get funding for this movie. They even did a crowdfunding campaign and raised USD 30,000. Not only was it a commercial success, it got the nod of critics and was given the stamp of “Certified Fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes.
The Exorcist (1973)
Under the direction of William Friedkin, The Exorcist is based on William Peter Blatty’s novel. It is the most iconic demon possession movies in the history of filmmaking. It also put Linda Blair on the map and she is still known for her iconic role as Regan, the demon-possessed girl in the movie. To say that the movie was a hit is an understatement, 4 decades after its release, the movie has been re-released several times. It earned USD 441 million in total. Surprisingly and not surprisingly, it got an Oscar nomination for Best Film. It has several noteworthy scenes that it ranked #3 in 100 Scariest Movie Moments. It is also one of the few selected films by the Library of Congress to be included in their National Film Registry. Not too shabby for a horror flick.
Other popular movies about exorcism on Netflix are:
- Asmodexia (Asmodexia is also available on Hulu)
- On Hulu you can stream The Devil Inside & Inner Demons