Curses and cursed objects are rife in horror movies. Much like the basement in Cabin in The Woods (2011), horror movie characters are often one terrible decision away from signing their own death warrant.
While some curses can be broken with the right amount of research, there are some that mark those involved for death the minute they make the wrong choice or get involved with something they really should have avoided. Eject that cursed videotape from your VCR, cancel that haunted games night with your friends, and instead, read about the objects that will lead to Death himself knocking on your door.
10. Countdown App in Countdown (2019)
If you could know the exact date you were going to die, would you want to find out? In Countdown, that is exactly what the app Countdown does, and plenty of characters are curious enough about their remaining lifespan to download the app and see how long they have to live.
However, what many users don’t realize until it’s too late is that the Countdown app is incredibly accurate, and if you try and do anything to prolong your life, it’s treated as a breach of the user agreement. With users unable to remove the app from their phone, there’s no way to save yourself once the app decides when you’re going to die.
9. Polaroid Camera in Polaroid (2019)
Polaroid cameras may be the ultimate hipster accessories, but be wary that you’re not snapping your photo with a cursed camera or you could end up shortening your life significantly!
Anyone who takes their photo with this particular camera in Polaroid is marked for death, with a mysterious shadow appearing in the photo of the person who is about to die. The shadow then transfers to the next victim on the list, at least giving the teens an idea of who will be the next to die. Trying to destroy or harm the photo in any way also ends up affecting the person captured in the photo, so once you’ve been photographed, there is no escape!
8. Knucklebones in Knucklebones (2016)
If a game involves human bones, then chances are it’s going to be cursed. But this is horror movie logic, and a group of young people cannot be persuaded away from certain death it seems. However, like most cursed objects in horror, it’s hard to keep them hidden for too long, and 40 years after Knucklebones last went on a killing spree, he’s unwittingly called forward again by a group of college kids.
While there are ways to ‘win’ the game and send Knucklebone back to where he came from, the odds are severely stacked against the players, meaning most people who play are destined to die. And when Knucklebones thinks there’s a chance that he might be banished again, he destroys the set of bones, meaning Lisa has to either face death or create a new set of knucklebones herself.
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7. The Game in The Midnight Man (2016)
The Midnight Man is yet another example of why you should avoid playing cursed games because they very rarely have a good outcome. Despite Alex being warned away from the Midnight Man game when she finds it in her grandmother’s attic, she and her friend Miles still decide to play it, and soon find themselves being pursued by the Midnight Man himself.
While there are rules that you can abide by in order to survive an encounter with the Midnight Man, it turns out he’s a trickster and will do anything to make sure you don’t last the night.
6. Cursed House in The Grudge (2004)
When Kayako Saeki, her son Toshio, and their cat are murdered by her husband after he believes she is having an affair, their house ends up the site of a terrifying and powerful curse. Kayako returns to murder her husband, and the spirits of Kayako and Toshio continue to lurk in the house.
From then on, anyone who sets foot in the house is marked with the curse, with Kayako and Toshio hunting them down no matter where they are, and brutally killing them. As more and more people die at the hands of the curse, more people visit the cursed house, meaning the curse continues to spread at an alarming rate.
5. The Video Game in Stay Alive (2006)
When Hutch’s friend Loomis dies in mysterious circumstances, Hutch is given some of his friend’s belongings, including an unreleased video game called Stay Alive. Despite them needing to recite a creepy-sounding prayer out loud in order to start the game, Hutch and his friends don’t think there’s anything wrong as they enjoy a gaming session.
However, they soon find out that when your character dies in the game, you die in the same way in real life. And while the friend group figure this out pretty quickly and do their best to stay alive, the game’s villain, Elizabeth Bathory does her best to stretch the rules and kill them all off.
4. Video Tape in The Ring (2002)
When journalist Rachel’s niece dies in a horrifying and unexplained way, she decides to use her best investigative skills in order to find out what happened. When she hears rumors of a cursed videotape, she decides to hunt it down and watch it, hoping it will yield clues.
Unfortunately for Rachel, once you watch the video you get a ghostly phone call, telling you that you have seven days left to live. Unlike a lot of other curses on this list, there is a successful way to avoid dying, even though Rachel stumbles across it by accident when she copies the tape and shows it to someone else. Most people either assume they’re done for or that the tape is a fake before dying at the hands of Samara.
3. Your Last Baby Tooth in Darkness Falls (2003)
While Matilda Dixon was once well-loved in the town of Darkness Falls, acting as a real-life tooth fairy for the local children, she suffers a horrible death at the hands of mob justice when she is wrongly accused of killing two missing children. Cursing the town, Matilda comes back for every child when they lose their last baby tooth, killing anyone who dares to peek at her.
When Kyle loses his last tooth, he sees Matilda creeping around his bedroom. While he escapes with his life, Matilda kills his mother. Twelve years later, Kyle is still running from Matilda, unable to stray out of the light for fear that Matilda will come for him.
2. The Naturom Demonto in Evil Dead (2013)
If we’ve learned one thing from horror movies it’s “never read the Latin”, especially when that Latin is contained in a book that is wrapped in barbed wire and covered in warnings about not reading it. However, Eric pays no attention to any of these, breaking into the book and reading the incantations aloud.
Once the book has been opened and read, all those in the surrounding area are marked for death. Everyone in Evil Dead dies at the hands of the book’s power, with final girl Mia only surviving until the end of the movie because her brother David kills her and then brings her back to life, ensuring her soul is rescued from Hell.
1. Super 8mm Movies in Sinister (2012)
If you ever find a box of mysterious 8mm films in the attic of your new house where the old family was murdered, it’s probably best to leave them where they are. Or throw them out. Or burn them. But please, promise me you won’t watch them.
True-crime writer Ellison is so concerned with solving the case and writing a best-seller that he doesn’t think twice about watching the mysterious tapes. Even when he finds out they contain the murders of other families, he keeps watching them. What he doesn’t know is that by watching them he has sealed the fate of his whole family, unleashing a deity named Bughuul who likes to coerce the youngest member of the family into murdering everyone else before he steals them away to his realm.
Which cursed object are you most likely to fall victim to? Let us know how you would meet your demise in a horror movie over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.