There should be more stories about haunted schools. So many students pass through their halls and leave their impressions behind. So many young people with volatile emotions and confusing inner worlds are just ripe for a classic haunt or possession. If ghosts are used as a metaphor for memory, then you could do worse than to set your ghost up in a school, where so many memories are made and relationships formed between so many people that whole yearbooks are made to contain and preserve. them.
Each of the (fictional) schools on this list is haunted by at least one ghost, from historical ghosts trapped in time to spirits created by happenstance or something else altogether. Be warned: some of the entries on this list definitely constitute spoilers.
Yomiyama North Middle School — Another (2012)
Grief begets an interesting curse in Another (2012). After a student died in Class 3-3 at Yomiyama Middle School, his classmates refused to move on, and so pretended that he hadn’t died at all. This turned into a tradition of leaving one seat empty in the classroom, which turned into a curse whereby every year a dead person would be a part of the class. In return, one living student must be effectively “dead” to the classroom for the year and none of the other classmates are allowed to acknowledge them. When new kid Koichi Sakakibara (Kento Yamazaki) joins class 3-3, he ignores the rules of the curse and sets its deadly effects in motion.
Falburn Academy – The Woods (2006)
Lucky McKee’s The Woods may overtly be a witch story, but if you want to split hairs about it, it’s actually a witch ghost story. Falburn Academy exists for a coven of witches to keep themselves alive, literally and physically, by recruiting magic-sensitive students like Heather (Agnes Bruckner) to inhabit. Without the school, the faculty are just spirits doomed to haunt the woods on the academy’s grounds.
Blackwood Boarding School — Down a Dark Hall (2018)
Blackwood is an interesting place: it’s the only school on this list that wants to be haunted. It recruits so-called “problem” students, like delinquent teen Kit Gordy (AnnaSophia Robb) and not only curbs their challenging behaviours, but cultivates artistic and academic talents. To call Blackwood’s methods unorthodox would be a massive understatement, given that most people don’t have their their bodies offered up as vessels to ghosts just so they can learn to play the piano.
Hamilton High – Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (1987)
For 30 years, Mary Lou (Lisa Schrage)’s ghost was quiet and chill just possessing a bunch of vintage prom queen garb in Hamilton High’s theatre storage room. When her spirit is finally released by Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon), a student just trying to raid the school’s’ costumes for something to wear to prom, Mary Lou is free to wreak havoc on the student body and seek her revenge against those who ruined her moment as prom queen back in 1957.
Rookford Preparatory School —The Awakening (2011)
Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) makes her living debunking supernatural hoaxes and writing about it. When she reluctantly takes on a case at a boys’ boarding school, she’s confident that her investigations will yield some sort of elaborate schoolboy prank. The longer she stays at the school, however, the more her confidence wavers, and the more she begins to realize that there may be ghosts indeed at Rookford, and that those ghosts may have ties to her own past (a past that she doesn’t remember).
Tenjin Elementary School — Corpse Party (2015)
With graduation on the horizon, close classmates decide to perform a charm that will keep them connected in friendship forever. As soon as the charm is completed, however, a strange earthquake rocks the classroom and sends the students to a strange, alternate-dimension cursed schoolhouse filled with ghosts and guts. In order to get back home, the group of friends have to face down the spirits lurking in the school and uncover and lift the curse …without getting killed or possessed first.
Beatrice High School — The Gallows (2015)
In this found-footage horror, students are remounting a play (the titular The Gallows) that hasn’t been produced at the school since a freak prop malfunction killed a student actor 20 years earlier, not that any of the current students have ever heard about the previous tragedy. The probably cursed lead role is take by school jock Reese (Reese Mishler), despite the fact that he is embarrassingly bad at acting. To save himself from bombing onstage in front of an audience, he and a group of friends decide that the best thing to do is to vandalize the play’s set so that there’s no way the show can go on. When they find themselves locked in the school, they soon realize that they’re trapped with something even more destructive than they are.
Cole’s school—The Sixth Sense (1999)
As kid who can see dead people, living in a historical city like Philadelphia means poor Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) can’t help but absorb some history lessons from some very old ghosts. On the one hand, he can ace local history by having keen insight into factoids like how his elementary school was originally built as legal courthouse; on the other hand, he’s stuck with the trauma seeing the ghosts of the hanged dead every day as he goes from class to class.
Younghwa Art Institute — Wishing Stairs (2003)
At a girls’ art boarding school, there is a set of stairs known as the Fox stairs. Usually, it only has 28 steps, but sometimes, a 29th step appears, and that extra step has the power to grant your heart’s desire. As with any Be Careful What You Wish For -type story, things go horribly wrong, and misguided wishing ends up summoning the vengeful ghost of a dead student. It’s a chilling and stylish story about friendships and jealousy. Wishing Stairs is the third instalment of the Whispering Corridors series (beginning with Whispering Corridors in 1998) which deals with haunting experiences at various all-girls schools. None of the films are connected by plot or character, so you can watch whichever piques your interest in whatever order.
Greenwood High School — Detention (2019)
Set against the political backdrop of Taiwan in 1962 (which, if you’re not familiar with the White Terror, was right in the middle of one of the longest periods of martial law in world history), students Fang Ray-shin (Gingle Wang) and Wei Chung-ting (Tseng Ching-hua) find themselves trapped at their school in the middle of the night. But in the dark, their school is haunted and strange, with ghosts and other more threatening creatures roaming the hallways. Fang Ray-shin and Wei Chung-ting need to piece together missing memories and understand how this parallel version of their school connects to their usual reality.
Are you a fan of school hauntings, or do you prefer student horrors to be slasher affairs? Did I miss your favourite classroom spook? Let us know over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit. and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club.