Scary stories about dreading a place then going there?
June 29, 2011 1:16 PM   Subscribe

The story builds dread about a certain location throughout the narrative and climaxes with the protagonist going there. Please recommend more scary movies and books like this!

The main character finds some unsettling information about the old house/cave/temple/ice cream stand. Freaky stuff happens, somehow related to it! Maybe the person even obsesses about the place! They are forced by circumstances or compulsion to finally go to this place, and the reader feels their stomach drop with anxiety when it happens.

For some reason I love this type of scary story, but I've only read or watched a few examples. I want more!

The absolute best of these was the internet favorite House of Leaves. Stephen King seems to have a few of these floating around, like Salem's Lot. Heck, I even enjoyed the terrible Carnival of Souls, which Rifftrax fans will recognize. The adorable Monster House and the classic The Burbs would also be good examples, but I'm really looking for terrifying rather than funny.

Any recommendations, Hive Mind? The more the story is about the location itself, the better.
posted by Willie0248 to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Ooh, the Blair Witch Project.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:19 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bad Things, by Michael Marshall, while not his best (nor creepiest) work, is still a very enjoyable, suspenseful read that I think meets your criteria.
posted by IanMorr at 1:26 PM on June 29, 2011

The first thing that kind of pops to mind, and which is almost a fit, is actually a song. We are all, in some way or another, going to Reseda, some day, to die.

(gone savage for teenagers who are aesthetically pleasing or in other words, "fly.")
posted by Shepherd at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2011

The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft.
posted by duomo at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Following your *exact* sequence: Nightbreed (Cabal).
posted by rr at 1:31 PM on June 29, 2011

It's just one scene from a film, rather than a whole story...but man oh man does it ever have that anxiety and dread you're looking for: the Winkie's Diner scene from David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. I almost couldn't watch the clip to make sure it was the right one.
posted by bcwinters at 1:35 PM on June 29, 2011 [8 favorites]

There was a old blog like this that I truly wish I could remember (and I think I found it on Mefi so I'm hopeful someone else will remember it.) It was posted as a series of emails that someone received from a friend as they investigated the death or disappearance of another friend and its connection to a mysterious house.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 1:36 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

"The Room in the Tower"
posted by thomas j wise at 1:40 PM on June 29, 2011

Noroi (The Curse) is basically like this, at least in the second half. It uses a documentary style, and much of the early part of the film is spent building up tension for the last few scenes.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:41 PM on June 29, 2011

2nding the Winkie's Diner scene from Mulholland Drive. Oh god, that is pure horror in anticipation.

See also The Wicker Man, The Ninth Gate, In the Mouth of Madness and The Changeling.
posted by rabbitsnake at 1:41 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

There was a old blog like this that I truly wish I could remember (and I think I found it on Mefi so I'm hopeful someone else will remember it...

The Dionaea House
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 1:52 PM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

Seconding The House on the Borderland. Also, possibly 1984.
posted by cog_nate at 1:56 PM on June 29, 2011

How about some Hitchcock thrillers? Here are a few with their climax scenes to get you started.

Vertigo - the bell tower
Rear Window - the neighbor's apartment
Psycho - Bates' house
posted by phunniemee at 1:58 PM on June 29, 2011

Oh oh oh, In The Woods, by Tana French.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:15 PM on June 29, 2011

Ted's Caving Page is another HTML classic from the time of Dionaea House.
posted by Addlepated at 2:41 PM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Nthing Mulholland Drive, "The Room in the Tower", and In the Woods. Also, this is kind of a silly example, but the fifth Harry Potter book features a recurring nightmare about a door at the end of a corridor, which ends up opening to the site of the climactic battle.
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 2:45 PM on June 29, 2011

The Izu peninsula, and of course the well in Ringu.

Room 237 in The Shining.

Mulholland Drive contains another scene similar to the one already described, when Rita and Betty visit Diane's apartment.
posted by milk white peacock at 3:34 PM on June 29, 2011

The Red Tree
posted by restless_nomad at 3:37 PM on June 29, 2011

In Michael Chabon's short story collection, Werewolves in Their Youth, there is a great homage to pulp horror stories called "In the Black Mill."
posted by muddgirl at 3:42 PM on June 29, 2011

The film Kanal by Andrzej Wajda.
posted by perhapses at 4:01 PM on June 29, 2011

Homebody by Orson Scott Card is similar, but tweaked.

Publisher's Weekly said this:

The Bellamy mansion is a venerable Victorian pile that has seen better days when it catches the eye of Don Lark, a widower who "turns his loneliness and grief into the restoration of beautiful old houses." Don's labors to restore the mansion to its former grandeur introduce him to a succession of women receptive to his emotional needs, including an amorous real estate agent, three dotty elderly neighbors who urge him to demolish the place and Sylvie Delaney, a squatter who has lived in the house secretly for a decade. All have been drawn to the mansion and its legacy of corrupted splendor through the shame of their private lives.


Basically he lives in a house while remodeling it and odd things happen. For the reader, there is a buildup of dread because you know that *something* isn't right with this old house but it isn't clear until the climax exactly why things are so "off"...
posted by tacodave at 4:02 PM on June 29, 2011

In Cube, the characters begin in the location but the dread builds as they discover more about it.
posted by perhapses at 4:03 PM on June 29, 2011

The Enigma of Amigara Fault is exceedingly creepy. (Note that it's a translated manga, so you have to read the panels from right to left.)
posted by Rhaomi at 4:28 PM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

I cannot look up the exact book where I am now, but I believe some books by Frank Belknap Long will fit these criteria.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:45 PM on June 29, 2011

What's he building?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:15 PM on June 29, 2011

This isn't a perfect answer, but I thought the TV show Angel did interesting things with Wolfram & Hart, especially at the very end of the fourth season. The law firm really takes on a life of its own, figuratively speaking, and it's well done how gradually the show lets you explore the place.

Many Thomas Ligotti stories fit this bill in one way or another. His rejected X-Files script "Crampton" does a particularly excellent job of this.

Also not a perfect answer, but I thought that, the film Sunshine [SPOILER ALERT] did a great job of keeping creepy the remains of the Icarus One.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:46 PM on June 29, 2011

You might enjoy A Darker Place by Laurie R. King. I haven't read it since it came out, but I found it very suspenseful.
posted by mogget at 9:36 PM on June 29, 2011

China MiƩville's The Scar is a bit like this.
posted by neushoorn at 10:44 PM on June 29, 2011

I think you're going to have a lot of luck with H.P. Lovecraft here. Rats In the Walls, Call of Cthulhu, Silver Key, the Outsider... off the top of my head. It by Stephen King is a bit like this (kind of a stretch though).
posted by kookywon at 10:15 AM on June 30, 2011

Perhaps The Keeper by Sarah Langan.
posted by MikeMc at 7:24 PM on June 30, 2011

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