Change in demeanor, reclusive behavior, mood swings. Yep, being a teenager sure can seem like you’re being controlled by some other entity, but what happens when adolescents suddenly have to share their personal space with a supernatural force? Each of the films on this list tackle this very question in their own way, but one thing’s for sure, there’s bound to be plenty of murder!
So pull out your ouija boards, draw up your pentagrams, and set your clocks to 3:00AM as we countdown ten of the best teen possession movies!
10. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Going off to college is a big moment in any person’s life. It comes with a plethora of changes. But when 19-year-old Emily Rose, played by Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter), begins experiencing strange phenomena, her family enlists the help of Father Richard Moore, played by Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom), to perform an exorcism. Director Scott Dickerson frames the familiar story around Father Moore’s court case investigating his role in Emily Rose’s death as a result of the exorcism. A series of flashbacks recall Emily’s final days while in present-day Moore’s defense attorney, played by Laura Linney (Ozark), struggles to help Moore plead his innocence.
9. Idle Hands (1999)
Imagine being so stoned that you forget today is Halloween! Now imagine being so stoned you don’t remember murdering your parents! That’s the setup for director Rodman Flender’s demonic stoner comedy starring Devon Sawa (Final Destination) as Anton Tobias a stoner who’s hand inexplicably becomes possessed and compels him to murder his parents and his best friends played by Seth Green (Austin Powers) and Elden Henson (Daredevil). Hijinks ensue in a very off-the-wall kind of way which is right on brand for this irreverent horror-comedy. Did I mention Jessica Alba (Sin City) plays the girl next door love interest? Though the comedy may not have aged very well, it’s worth checking out!
8. The Quiet Ones (2014)
The question of whether a demonic possession is actually a form of mental illness is often explored in film. John Pogue’s film based on the Philip Experiment stars Olivia Cooke (Ouija) as Jane Harper, an orphan in the charge of Professor Joseph Coupland, played by Jared Harris (Chernobyl). Professor Coupland is convinced that the seemingly supernatural phenomena surrounding Jane cannot be attributed to schizophrenia or psychosis and can be “excised” similar to a tumor. As the film progresses, Jane’s apparent possession takes an unexpected turn that may leave viewers questioning one’s responsibility for their own wellbeing.
7. The Last Exorcism (2010)
This film is a found-footage gem! Directed by Daniel Stamm, this film follows documentary filmmakers as they chronicle a longtime exorcist’s last exorcism. Cotton Marcus, played by Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul), has played the con for decades faking exorcisms for fame and fortune, but this case is different. Despite witnessing several unexplainable phenomena, Cotton is still skeptical of Nell Sweetzel, played by Ashley Bell (Carnage Park). That is until he is forced to dig deeper and uncovers some outside forces are just as invested in Nell’s case as he is.
6. Amityville II: The Possession (1982)
A prequel to the classic film Amityville Horror, this film tells the story of the Montelli family, the infamous family who was murdered by their son and began the horrific legacy of the Amityville house. The film explores more of the demonic aspects of the house than its predecessor. Teenage Sonny is played by Jack Manger (Firestarter) and is contacted almost immediately by the demonic force inhabiting the home. As the film progresses, Sonny’s sister Patricia played by Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead), notices changes in her brother and reaches out for help. If you’re familiar with the Amityville franchise, you know how well that goes!
5. Night of the Demons (1988)
Nothing says 80s teen horror movie more than a party in a haunted house, and Kevin Tenney and Joe Augustyn’s Night of the Demons is no exception. Starring Amelia Kinkade (The Young and the Restless) and Linnea Quigley (The Return of the Living Dead) as two unpopular girls who put on a party at Hull House to attempt to gain the favor of their more popular classmates. After a seance gone wrong, the girls become possessed, and the house packed with hormonal teenagers becomes the gruesome murder-fest one can expect from this style of film. This really is a fun cult classic with some recognizable faces.
4. Hereditary (2018)
This film took many by surprise with its unabashed take on grief and loss, but perhaps more startling was its realism. Ari Aster’s breakout film stars Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense), Alex Wolff (Patriot’s Day), Gabriel Byrne (End of Days), and introducing Milly Shapiro as the grief-stricken Graham family who suffers one loss after another beginning with the death of the enigmatic grandmother. As Annie (Toni Colette) struggles to recover from the loss of her mother, another sudden accident triggers a change the family may not be able to handle. On top of all of that, Peter (Alex Wolff) begins having strange experiences including loss of control of his body and a mysterious floating light. As the mystery begins to unfold, your expectations are subverted at every turn until the stunning conclusion that may leave you with more questions.
3. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)
We really couldn’t have this list without mentioning one of the most cult teen horror movies of the 80s. This film is a possession, revenge, and teen slasher movie all in one! The film starts in the 50s and follows promiscuous Mary Lou Maloney played by Lisa Schrage (Food of the Gods II) and her manipulation of her male classmates. After a jilted lover’s prank goes horribly wrong, Mary Lou’s dress catches fire and she dies in front of her classmates. Decades later, Mary Lou’s undamaged dress and accessories are found in the school’s attic by Vikki Carpenter played by Wendy Lyon (The Shape of Water). When Vikki tries on the cursed set of clothing, she begins to experience hallucinations from Mary Lou’s past, and do I really need to say it again?… Murder ensues!
2. Veronica (2017)
Paco Plaza’s take on the Vallecas case of 1991 in which a young girl mysteriously died after playing with a ouija board is perhaps one of the better representations of the awkwardness and social pressure of teenage years. Sandra Escacena perfectly embodies 15-year-old Veronica in her first major film role delivering an emotional and terrifying performance. After performing a seance with her friends during an eclipse, Veronica experiences night terrors eventually culminating in physical experiences. In case that wasn’t enough to deal with, she must also deal with the painful reality of growing up without a father, the realization that her friends are not as loyal as she once thought, and some of the physiological aspects of being a teenager. Plaza interweaves these realities with the horror of a demonic possession into a terrifying tapestry that is singular to experience.
1. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
This film lands at the top of our list for its encapsulation of the teenage experience, even if it is dripping in Diablo Cody witticisms! Karyn Kusama directed the film starring Megan Fox (Transformers) as Jennifer, a popular girl who is known in the small town of Devil’s Kettle for her striking beauty, and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) as Needy, Jennifer’s less popular, more nerdy friend. Their friendship, referred to in the film as a “sandbox friendship,” a reference to childhood friends who stayed friends despite moving into different social circles as they grew up, is tested when an indie band plays the local bar at Devil’s Kettle.
After a series of events in which the bar burns down and Jennifer goes home with the band, Needy begins to notice changes in Jennifer’s behavior. When local boys are found murdered and partially eaten, the already grieving town never suspects the true culprit. Jennifer’s Body is a film about growing up and growing apart from friends you thought would always be there. It’s a reality that we all must confront, though thankfully not with some added possession thrown in!
What’s your top teen possession movie? Are there any you think should have been on this list? Let us know on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, or on the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook Group!