The real world is not all sunshine and smiles, so it makes sense that various visionaries have come up with seriously creepy fictional places to reflect some of the darkness that exists in daily life.
Of course, not all creepy places are created equal, so here is a look at a handful of the top-ranked locations that can truly send shivers down your spine.
Spencer Mansion, Resident Evil
Originating in the classic 1996 survival-horror video game that launched a slew of sequels and a hugely successful series of movie spin-offs, the Spencer Mansion first appeared in Resident Evil and would also be used as a location in the film adaptation of the same name.
What makes this place especially creepy is that, aside from the hilariously awful voice acting, it is a perfectly pitched concoction, combining locked doors, unsettling furnishings and narrow corridors, all conveyed via claustrophobic camera angles that leave so much unseen. An honourable mention must also be made to the police headquarters that served as a stand-in for the mansion in Resident Evil 2.
Castle Dracula, Dracula
From featuring in slots on this online casino in New Zealand to appearing in many cinematic adaptations of Bram Stoker’s revered novel, Castle Dracula has been portrayed and re-imagined many times across myriad mediums. It even has a real-life counterpart which is believed to have been the inspiration for the description that Stoker provided readers.
The power of Castle Dracula comes from its warren-like interior, which leaves unfortunate visitor Jonathan Harker completely confounded in his attempts to escape. He is also placed at the mercy of a trio of vampiric sisters who prowl its ill-lit hallways and nearly lead Harker to his doom. Nothing gets the fear glands flowing like a good old fashioned dose of gothic architecture.
The Bates Motel, Psycho
While a mansion and a castle are both arguably innately creepy, there shouldn’t be anything particularly disturbing about something as run-of-the-mill as a motel. Yet in Hitchcock’s seminal thriller, this quotidian setting is turned into something genuinely terrifying.
The disturbing atmosphere of the Bates Motel is no doubt amplified by the fact that it is overlooked by an imposing house on a hill, where the owner and his mother famously live their complex lives side by side. The lack of guests is also a good sign that this backwoods accommodation is not all that it seems, even if on the surface it looks relatively mundane.
Camp Crystal Lake, Friday the 13th
Plenty of horror movies are set in the woods, but they often rely on somewhat convoluted reasons to get their characters to visit such isolated locations. In Friday the 13th, the summer camp setting easily justifies putting a bunch of teenagers in peril without needing to push the limits of believability, and the camp itself is the ideal place for a series of gruesome murders to unfold.
One of the elements which helps boost the creepiness is that while each cabin in the camp is an oasis of light, sound and civilisation, once night falls there is so much uncertainty and peril existing in the dark spaces which separate them. Once Jason Voorhees is stalking the camp and the woods around it, all bets are off.
Sleepy Hollow, Sleepy Hollow
Tim Burton is not known for his subtlety, and he tends to crank the creepiness right up to 11 whenever he takes the helm of a project. It could be argued, therefore, that the overly-controlled suburbia of Edward Scissorhands is his real masterpiece when it comes to being disquieting. In reality, the ultimate creep-fest in his canon is definitely encountered in Sleepy Hollow.
There are lots of aspects of this dinky hamlet that make it a troubling place to spend any time, from the constant mist that seems to cling to it to the suspicious, superstitious residents that Johnny Depp’s Ichabod Crane encounters on his arrival.
The gnarled, twisted trees which make up the forests surrounding Sleepy Hollow seem to press in close and create a stifling atmosphere that the audience has no choice but to be caught up in. Praised for its intense presentation at the time, it has managed to endure and remain impactful to this day.