I'm unfortunate in that I like a good scary movie. Unfortunate because they come along so rarely. I can't get behind those slasher sort of films where someone leaps out from behind a door and the audience sees a knife plunging up and down to the strains of a badly tuned orchestra. No.
Give me movies with a bit of mystery. A creepy old house is good, hopefully one with a troubled history. A ghost -- or I should say -- the suggestion of a ghost -- is even better. And ideally, the protagonist will have to go to the local library to research the events that took place in this strange little town back in 1890 or whenever. And may I say that looking for this information on a microfiche reader is just so much more atmospheric than seeing our protagonist jump on the internet and google "mysterious circumstances in Creepyville".
In my opinion one of the best of these was The Changeling. If you were around at the time, perhaps you remember the ads for the movie which showed a creaky wooden wheelchair, unoccupied, chasing one of the characters down a long hall. George C. Scott played the unsuspecting man who moves into the house, only to find that someone is still living there. Sadly, the library no longer owns the movie, and I suspect it is long out of print. Add to that The Watcher in the Woods (a Disney film no less) and The Lady in White about a boy who gets locked in the school cloakroom on Halloween night and sees a murder from the past replayed before him. Alas! They don't make them like that anymore.
But hey, wait! They do! I recently watched Guillermo Del Toro's ( director of Pan's Labyrinth) The Orphanage. A woman and her husband have purchased the orphange where she grew up with the idea of making a home for disabled children. Their son, Simon, soon begins telling his parents about his new friends. A sensitive kid, an old house with a past, mysterious visitors, bumps in the night, what's not to love? Though some of the reviews were less than glowing, sometimes all you want is a good atmospheric movie, someone to watch it with, and a blanket with which to cover your head.