20 Best Demonic Possession Movies

Demonic possession has captured the imaginations of filmmakers for decades, and the best demonic possession movies have terrified audiences for just as long. Demons continue to take a central role in modern horror and there’s still clearly quite a huge audience for the possession horror subgenre. Dipping into the realm of the dark spirits and disturbing contortionists is just as exciting as it is intimidating, and there are a plethora of the best demon movies to choose from.

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The best possession movies are often the ones that take unique approaches to the formula, but classic takes on demonic possession still continue to do serious business at the box office in modern times. New or old, whether it’s Evil Dead Rise or The Exorcist, possession movies can be found on some of the biggest streaming platforms available to subscribers and some are even available for free for more casual viewers. The cream of the crop should be considered essential viewing for any horror fan.

RELATED: The 10 Most Malevolent Demonic Possessions In Movies



Luz (2018)

A demon spitting a spirit into someone's mouth in the Lux poster

Tilman Singer’s 2018 directorial debut Luz is one of the best demonic horror movies that follows the titular cab driver as she finds herself being mysteriously questioned in a police station after a car crash. That leads to a night filled with supernatural terror, and it’s soon revealed that Luz is being hunted by a demon she recklessly conjured in her youth, who possesses new bodies as it attempts to get closer to her in a beautifully shot.

The movie is a hypnotic mind-bender that takes a fresh approach to the subgenre. Luz is most notable for its unconventional narrative structure, and as Luz was shot on 16mm film, the movie is grainy and adds to the dread. Between the non-linear way Luz unfolds, the gritty-looking aesthetic, and the intentionally slow pace, Luz is one of the tensest and most exhausting demonic possession flicks.

The Possession (2012)

The spirit leaves the antiqu box in The Possession

The vast majority of the best demonic possession movies stem from Christian beliefs or practices, particularly within Catholicism. However, The Possession takes a slightly different approach and centers around a dybbuk box from Jewish mythology. After a young girl comes into possession of the box, she’s slowly taken over by the malicious spirit residing within it, as it preys upon the drama of her family life instigated by the difficult relationship between her parents.

The use of Jewish folklore is what makes The Possession feel truly unique when it comes to demonic possession movies, and it has some of the most terrifying jump scares in the genre. Jeffrey Dean Morgan leads the movie with a much more vulnerable character than what he’s generally used to. His performance, along with some flourishes from producers–and original Evil Dead creators–Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, have helped it become one of the more standout PG-13 horror movies of recent years.

The Devil’s Candy (2015)

A topless man paints a cross in The Devil's Candy

In The Devil’s Candy, a family’s life is irrevocably altered when they move into a new home that, unbeknownst to them, was once inhabited by a serial killer who appears to be compelled by a demonic force. This demonic force attempts to consume Jesse, an artist and the husband of the family. The possession side of things isn’t really the focus of the narrative. However, it leaves more room for the drama that makes the horrific sequences so much more intense as the audience comes to really know the family at the heart of the story.

The movie’s build-up is more than paid off by the end and the bloody finale makes it one of the best possession movies available to stream, even without the demons. Pruitt Taylor Vince’s performance as the terrifying killer Raymond Smilie is more than enough to etch the movie into even the most hardened horror movie fans’ memories. The Devil’s Candy is one of the best demon movies, and it’s a mystery why Raymond hasn’t become one of the most iconic horror villains.

The Exorcist III (1990)

George C Scott in The Exorcist III with a woman crawling on the roof

After a poorly-received Exorcist sequel movie in 1977, Exorcist II: The Heretic, the original author and screenwriter of The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty added some salvation to the franchise’s image with an adaptation of another of his novels. The Exorcist III picks up the story of the original movie left off, but this time revolving more around the fate of Father Karras. Lieutenant William F. Kinderman investigates a series of murders and soon discovers a connection to the same demonic possession that haunted him years earlier.

The Exorcist III is not only quite a frightening experience in its own right but a theologically stimulating one too. Blatty’s dialogue-driven style makes a lot of the horror stem more from a meeting between philosophical ideas and the audience’s imagination. While the threequel isn’t as great as the original movie, not much is, and The Exorcist III is still a great possession movie. The 1990 release is easily the best Exorcist sequel, but that could change, as 2023’s The Exorcist: Believer is a direct sequel to the original movie.

Burnt Offerings (1976)

A man's disturbed face over a mansion in Burnt Offerings poster

Burnt Offerings is about a family that rents a mansion in the summer, and while so many of the best demonic possession movies are about families moving into new houses, the 1976 release is one of the most unique. Once the family settles into the house, frightening and strange occurrences start happening, and they’re haunted by supernatural forces within the mansion. The more the family turns on each other, the more the house rejuvenates itself.

It’s never fully explained what forces characters to kill themselves or age decades, but it’s absolutely terrifying. However, what is scariest about the movie isn’t the jump scares or the make-up and practical effects of the possessed characters, it’s the psychological horror aspects of Burnt Offerings. The characters slowly turn paranoid and insane, especially when their own dark secrets are brought to light. Burnt Offerings is one of the most unsettling possession movies and an iconic haunted mansion flick.

Devil (2010)

five people trapped in an elevator in Devil

Devil has one of the most unique concepts out of the best possession movies and it’s one of the scariest terrifying isolated thrillers. Almost the entirety of the movie takes place in an elevator where five random and very different people are trapped. It quickly becomes clear that one of them is possessed, as one character gets randomly killed every few minutes, and the characters must figure out which one of them is possessed.

All of the characters are guilty of something dreadful, and Devil expertly tackles the theme of redemption. The movie was heavily marketed as being produced by M. Night Shyamalan, and Devil is ironically better than any of the famed director’s own movies from that era. The film is as much of a thriller movie, as part of the fun of Devil is that audiences try to figure out which one of them is the possessed character before it’s revealed, almost like a whodunnit movie.

RELATED: M. Night Shyamalan’s Films Ranked From Absolute Worst To Best (Including Old)

Annabelle: Creation (2017)

Annabelle Doll in a box in Annabelle: Creation

The be-deviled doll that earned its reputation at the start of The Conjuring received its own spin-off film – three spin-off films to be exact. Annabelle: Creation is the second film in the Annabelle trilogy; however, canonically, it took place first within the doll’s timeline. The prequel details the origins of the terrifying doll and is centered around a dollmaker and his wife who lost their daughter, Annabelle, to a horrific car accident. Later in life, they allow a Catholic orphanage to use their residence.

Eventually, one of the girls discovers a skeleton – or rather a doll – in their closet. Unfortunately, the doll is connected with an evil spirit seeking a host. Annabelle: Creation is one of the most chilling and best demon movies, particularly because the film does what so few dare, as it has children in its crosshairs, and the performances from the young actors are surprisingly impressive and believable. Just like many other great movies of its ilk, Annabelle: Creation expertly tackles these of loss and grief.

Noroi: The Curse (2005)

A family photo with black bars covering their eyes in Noroi

In the 2000s, “found footage” movies, where films are entirely shot from the perspective of the main characters who happen to be recording everything on a camcorder, became extremely popular, especially when it came to horror movies. Noroi: The Curse is one of those movies that went totally under the radar, is one of the best demonic possession movies, and has become a cult classic. The Japanese horror movie follows a documentary filmmaker who investigates several supernatural events involving a woman, and he soon figures out that she is possessed by a sinister demonic entity.

The movie is mostly made up of documentary footage, such as interviews, news reports, and surveillance footage collected by a paranormal researcher, and it tells a compelling and sprawling story about inexplicable supernatural phenomena and possession. Noroi: The Curse is meticulously crafted and is generally regarded as one of the very best modern horror movies, though it has gone totally overlooked in recent years.

Prince Of Darkness (1987)

A dark room full of candles and crucifixes in Prince of Darkness

The 1987 movie examines demonic possession from an unusually scientific perspective, as a group of scientists and students study an ominous cylinder containing an unknown substance. It’s revealed that it’s an ancient text that describes the physical manifestation of the Devil himself. The movie cleverly meshes supernatural horror with science, and though it isn’t exactly scientifically accurate, few demon-possession movies have ever approached the subgenre from a scientific standpoint.

Between debating quantum physics and ancient prophecies, Prince of Darkness is just as appealing to sci-fi fans as it is to possession horror fans, and it’s the only horror movie that sits in the middle of that Venn diagram. Prince of Darkness is a unique mixture of metaphysical concepts and body horror gives it a distinct quality, and it’s absolutely one of the best possession movies. A great number of John Carpenter’s movies are underrated, debatably all of them, and Prince of Darkness remains one of the most criminally overlooked from Carpenter’s game-changing filmography.

The Last Exorcism (2010)

A woman bending backwards in a blood-stained dress in a barn in The Last Exorcism

The Last Exorcism is another found-footage movie, and it’s another unique approach to the subgenre, making for one of the best demon movies. The horrific follows two individuals documenting a reverend seeking to prove that exorcisms are one big hoax. In fact, the reverend reveals he has performed fake exorcisms on people who only thought they were possessed. However, the trio answers the call for an exorcism by a farmer who claims his daughter is causing big problems – like killing his livestock.

From this point forward, the story only gets more bizarre and disturbing. While exorcism horror movies have been done to death, The Last Exorcism is a refreshing spin on the formula, and it cleverly blends supernatural elements and psychological manipulation, but, ultimately, the possession is real and absolutely terrifying. Like all great possession movies, The Last Exorcism explores ideas of religion and skepticism is truly creepy.

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Megan Fox in a blood-stained dress in Jennifer's Body

While 2009’s Jennifer’s Body by director Karyn Kusama didn’t immediately strike a chord with audiences, it has since developed a cult following that has gained a new weight in recent years. Jennifer’s Body is a great teen movie, as the film explores a young woman’s assault and murder as a ritualistic offering by a satanic indie band. Following that, Jennifer’s body becomes the host of a dark and murderous demon succubus who begins to feed on her fellow classmates, while her best friend is left to deal with the monster she has become.

Not only is the movie one of the best demonic possession movies, but Jennifer’s Body is one of the sexiest horror movies too. The movie has feminist undertones, as the possessed Jennifer punishes aggressive males, and it has only become more relevant in the years following the #metoo movement too. Given that the movie isn’t a scary horror film, it’s totally unique in the demonic possession subgenre, and it’s easily Megan Fox’s best and most iconic release.

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)

Jennifer Carpenter screaming in The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is another film loosely based on real-world events. The movie is framed from a litigious perspective as the priest who performed an exorcism on Emily Rose is on trial for her subsequent death. Details of the entire experience are learned through testimonies heard during the trial. Frequently, the actual occurrence of Emily’s possession is shown through flashbacks as the priest recounts the events in court.

The 2005 film is another possession flick that blurs the line between faith and science, but, as always, it’s the supernatural that reigns supreme. Outside of The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is the best movie about exorcisms. As with the best possession movies, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is truly horrifying, and it’s so scary that when it cuts back to the testimonies, it’s relieving for audiences, as they know it’ll be five to ten minutes before the next arm-chair-clutching terrifying sequences.

RELATED:10 Best Exorcism Movies Of All Time

Constantine (2005)

Keanu Reeves as Constantine wearing white shirt

Constantine isn’t just about demonic possession, but it’s set in a whole world of demons with a wonderful-looking gothic aesthetic. The movie follows John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) an exorcist-detective who takes down supernatural forces living on Earth and delivers them back to hell, but the irony is that he has his own inner demons too. Constantine is a demon possession movie with a blockbuster budget, and it’s the mouthwatering cinematography, visual effects, and world-building that make it so great.

While it might not satisfy that craving for terrifying and nightmare-inducing possession flicks, the big-budget action horror is still one of the best demon movies. Surprisingly, Constantine 2 is officially in development at Warner Bros., which could be a result of the huge success of Keanu Reeves’ John Wick success. Either way, a Constantine sequel could delve even further into the demonic nature of the story, and as digital effects have developed so much in the past two decades, it could be one of the rare sequels that’s better than its predecessor.

Event Horizon (1997)

Weir torturing Miller in Event Horizon

While most demonic possessions occur within individuals as the demons attempt to take over their bodies, there are also films that explore demonically possessed houses, or in the case of 1997’s Event Horizon, an abandoned starship. After a distress signal is sent from a long-missing starship named the Event Horizon, a rescue and salvage crew boards the vessel and begins to experience hellish visions that reveal where the ship has been, and why it’s come back for more victims.

That’s when the victims have to fight for survival, which takes them to hell and back, and despite having a sci-fi veil, Event Horizon is one of the best demonic possession movies. It’s impossible to unsee or even try to forget the images and visuals when the characters enter the notorious nightmarish realm in the film. Event Horizon is intense, totally claustrophobic, and it’s easily the crown jewel in director Paul W.S. Anderson’s filmography, and Event Horizon is now getting a sequel series.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

Katie and Micah sitting in bed in Paranormal Activity

While found-footage-style films had been around for some time, Paranormal Activity jump-started the genre again eight years after The Blair Witch Project did it the first time. Paranormal Activity found success with its low-budget but horrific scares, as the movie follows a couple who are experiencing strange occurrences within their home. Eventually, they record the nighttime “activities” of this presence. To their amazement, they discover something supernatural is actually occurring.

However, it’s not a typical haunting. A demon has settled into their home and wants to take possession of the occupants. Paranormal Activity is one of the best possession movies, and watching somebody sleepwalking has never been so scary. Director Oren Peli managed to instill fear in audiences simply with time-lapses of people sleeping and little else. The fact that the series has become a billion-dollar-grossing franchise following this small movie, which was even shot in the Paranormal Activity director’s own home, is such a huge feat.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary looks in the bassinet in Rosemary's Baby.

Rosemary’s Baby is a classic horror movie, and it still totally holds up thanks to its timeless themes and influential storytelling. The movie follows Rosemary Woodhouse, who begins to believe that her unborn child is a result of a satanic cult that lives in her building, and she starts to think that she is becoming groomed by the cult and her husband to use her baby for rituals.

The only reason Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t rank with the very best is that it isn’t an outright demon-possession movie, as much of the narrative is left ambiguous and open to interpretation. Above all else, the movie is essentially an allegory for the vulnerability of motherhood, women being trapped by manipulation, paranoia, and trust. However, the sense of dread of what happens behind closed doors and the mere hint of demonic possession in the movie is one of the most hair-raising and unsettling cinematic experiences, making for one of the best demon movies.

Evil Dead Rise (2023)

Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie possessed in Evil Dead Rise

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Evil Dead Rise is one of the newest movies about demonic possession, but it’s the fifth entry in a long-running franchise that started in 1981. The Evil Dead franchise has taken on many different forms, whether it’s the evolving comedy in Sam Raimi’s original trilogy or the very horror-focused reboot in 2013. However, Evil Dead Rise is a perfect mix of horror and comedy, as the movie will have audiences laughing hysterically and somehow terrified at the same time.

Just like Mia did before him and Ash did before her in previous movies, Danny discovers a book, one of the three famous Naturom Demonto books, and reads from it, which summons demonic spirits known as Deadites and inadvertently possesses his own mother, who kills almost all her own children and turns them into Deadites too. The movie is an incredible return to form for the franchise and completely delivers on the gore, scares, and laughs that are expected of an Evil Dead movie, and it has instantly become one of the best demonic possession movies.

Sinister (2012)

Ethan Hawke looking at the box of movies in Sinister (2012)

Before delving into the cinematic universe with Doctor Strange in 2016, filmmaker Scott Derrickson delivered one of the scariest films of the 2010s. Sinister is about true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt, who moves his family to a new house for research for his next novel, which sounds like a familiar premise, but it’s executed better than almost any other possession movie.

Ellison discovers home movies in the attic of the house, and the disturbing footage leads to him unknowingly inviting a demonic entity into the house. The further into the movie it gets the more desperate and obsessed Ellison becomes. The 2012 movie is full of surprising twists, and a disturbing presence has never been felt more in a horror flick. Sinister is one of the best possession movies, and it’s the closest a movie has gotten to repeating the audience response in theaters that The Exorcist had in the 21st century.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Ed and Lorraine Warren stand in a garden in The Conjuring The Devil Made Me Do It

James Wan is a master of horror cinema and The Conjuring proved it, but the sequel, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, directed by Michael Chaves, is just as good if not better. Where the original movie had the typical narrative of a family moving into a new home and was more of a traditional ghost story, the sequel ups the ante.

The sequel is based on the real-life trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who tried to convince a Jury that she was possessed when she was on trial for manslaughter. The movie is not only one of the best demon movies, but it’s a great procedural courtroom drama too, as it perfectly mixes the legal proceedings with terrifying demonic sequences. The movie is even more engaging than the previous movie, as audiences are even more connected to the Warren family the second time around.

Smile (2022)

A woman smiles in the corner of a room in Smile

Thanks to an incredible Smile viral marketing campaign, which helped it become a phenomenal success and make $217 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). However, it’s also thanks to the absolutely creepy looks of the movie and the unpleasant but addictive under-the-skin feeling the movie has. Smile is about Dr. Rose Cotter after she witnesses a traumatic event involving one of her patients, as she begins to experience supernatural occurrences.

The doctor continuously sees people with creepy smiles before they kill themselves or do something else totally out of the ordinary. They’re all possessed by Rose’s mother, and Rose must confront her past in order to overcome supernatural events. The movie bears a lot of similarities to The Ring and It Follows, but it’s way more frightening, more of a psychological horror, and is a masterclass when it comes to shooting and editing jump scares, and Smile has such a bleak ending.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

George and Kathy Lutz hiding in front of their house in The Amityville Horror

Much like The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror was based on events that allegedly occurred in the home. The horrific murders of the DeFeo family by Ronald DeFeo Jr. in 1974 were central to the beginning of this story. After the tragic murders, a new family moves into the home and unsurprisingly begins to experience strange unexplainable things. The haunting escalates until the father is overcome with rage through some outside influence and seeks to murder his own family.

Much of the horror stems from the family attempting to escape the wrath of the possessed patriarch. The 1979 release is one of the best possession movies, and the reason it’s so scary is that it plays on the real-life fear of home invasions and safe spaces becoming not so safe anymore. Even though most horror sequels are way inferior to the originals, the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror is almost as good too.

Insidious (2010)

A demon hides behind Josh Lambert in Insidious

Another James Wan demonic possession horror masterpiece, Insidious takes a different spin on the haunting/demon possession angle. In the 2010 film, a boy becomes mysteriously catatonic. It is revealed that an evil spirit surrounds him and causes strange occurrences in the home. The boy has the ability to cross into another spiritual realm while dreaming. One night, he goes too far and other spirits hold him back from returning to his body.

A demon as well as other spirits circle the catatonic boy and cause fright and terror for the family as they all try to lay claim to his body. Insidious is one of the best demon movies, and Wan makes great use of the environment, as a demon could be hiding in the corner of the screen, and it takes a while for the viewers’ eyes to adjust and realize. The series is another franchise that is surprisingly consistent, and the upcoming Insidious: The Red Door, which is directed by lead actor Patrick Wilson, could be the best yet.

The Evil Dead (1981)

Ash looks terrified in The Evil Dead

Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead took a different approach to demonic possession. The movie follows Michigan State University students who take a trip to a remote cabin. In the cabin, they find the Natural Demanto, an ancient book that would later be recognized as the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in future films. After playing a recorded tape of incantations, demonic forces are unleashed upon the cabin. Possession is a much quicker affair than the gradual terror that occurs in The Exorcist.

The demons use possessed students to attack the living. The Evil Dead is quite graphic, including a scene involving a tree that would prove to be rather controversial. Succeeding films in the franchise focus more heavily on comedy alongside the demonic horror elements. Not only is The Evil Dead one of the best demonic possession movies, but Evil Dead II is also considered one of the greatest horror comedies ever made, and the threequel, Army of Darkness, is an ambitious historical comedy epic, and the entire trilogy is perfect.

Hereditary (2018)

Charlie stands in the backyard in Hereditary

Hereditary is a shockingly disturbing depiction of a demon seeking to take possession of a host within an unsuspecting family. The film follows Annie Graham, a mother to an odd 13-year-old girl named Charlie, and a 16-year-old son named Peter. After the death of Annie’s mother, a sinister presence takes over the home and has a strong influence on Charlie.

Midway through the film, a disturbingly tragic event occurs within the family that is the catalyst for the escalating demonic horror that ensues in the latter half of the movie. The performances in Hereditary are gut-wrenching and perfect. Hereditary should not escape any Halloween horror viewing line-up when it comes to the best possession movies. The movie is one of the leading films when it comes to the elevated horror genre, and while that label has drawn controversy, there’s no denying how clever Hereditary is.

The Exorcist (1973)

Father Merrin holds a bible in The Exorcist

William Friedkin’s seminal 1973 movie The Exorcist is always the first title that’s called to memory when discussing the best possession movies. The story follows the gradual descent of a 12-year-old girl into possession as the demon known as Pazuzu takes hold of her. The film terrified audiences when it was first released. The filmmakers framed the possession in a raw, terrifying light while sprinkling in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it demonic images of Pazuzu’s face.

Many audience members in 1973 reported feeling nausea from terror, others ran out of theatres screaming, and others threw up in their seats. The 1973 release is one of the best demonic possession movies, has one of the most notorious releases of all time, and it holds an incredible legacy that few other films could ever reach. Even more amazingly, the film still holds up five decades later, and no other movie in the subgenre has bettered it since.

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