Scary Basements in Films That Changed the Public Perception of Horror

Scary Basements in Films That Changed the Public Perception of Horror

By Irene Chen

Basements are often a shortcut to notifying a horror audience that something bad is happening. To many people, basements seem inherently scary: they’re often dry, cool, dimly-lit, and rarely-visited. That makes them the perfect fuel for a scary scene. Here are a few basement scenes in films that had a serious, dramatic impact on the world of horror in general.

The Exorcist – 0.4 Basement Evil

The Exorcist changed the general public’s idea of paranormal horror forever. There were plenty of extremely gory, jaw-dropping sequences in The Exorcist that left people feeling downright queasy during theatrical showings. With all that terror, it’s interesting to note that the basement didn’t play a huge part in it — it’s where the main character uncovers a Ouija board that sets off the story.

Parasite – 2.2 Basement Evil

Parasite made headlines by winning four Oscars, and it was the first non-English film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Though billed as largely a drama film, the movie contains enough scares to land it partially in the horror genre as well. The main family in the film lives in a banjiha, or a basement apartment, and their upsetting living conditions are part of the driving motivation for the horror.

The Grudge – 2.8 Basement Evil

Though it may not have been a critically well-received movie — its IMDB score hovers around a 4.1 — The Grudge nonetheless made a huge impact on the horror genre in the United States. Many of its tropes continue in horror movies today. The basement offers an especially spooky scene, where one character has to venture into the home’s basement with nothing but a flashlight.

Psycho – 6.6 Basement Evil

Many consider Psycho to be the first “slasher” horror movie. It broke barriers in a filmmaking world dominated by an ultra-strict moral code, horror movie ideas and tropes that live on in general filmmaking and the horror genre. An especially creepy scene occurs near the end of the movie, when the main character enters the home’s basement to find Norman Bates’ mummified mother.

Get Out – 9.6 Basement Evil

Get Out plays on a variety of established horror tropes and intentionally turns them upside down. The film tackles many racial motifs and the question of what makes a person human, and many people praised its ability to do so thoughtfully. The basement is the source of some truly twisted happenings, and it’s where the main character goes to the Sunken Place.

The Silence of the Lambs – 10.0 Basement Evil

Of all the movies on this list, The Silence of the Lambs absolutely tops all of them in terms of sheer basement evil. This movie, which bases its antagonist partially on real-life serial killers, captivated its audience enough to regularly land itself on most-influential movie lists. The basement is where serial killer Buffalo Bill kidnaps and starves women so he can kill and skin them.


These films all had a significant impact on the world at large. Whether you’ve seen them all or you’ve never seen any of them, they definitely hold something of importance for audiences today. Next time you want something to really freak you out, consider picking up one of these movies and watching for how the basement plays into the creepy factors.

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