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Whispering Ghosts

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There's something about horror movies and that annoying and/or creepy whispering noise in the background. It seems to simply be a soundtrack thing; seldom do the characters actually hear it. Maybe it indicates that the supernatural horror is nearby? Perhaps it's simply indicative of the characters' paranoia? Who knows, but everyone uses it.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in The Amityville Horror (2005). Here they symbolize the late Ketchum messing with the husband's head.
  • Lots of this in the background noise for Black Swan, along with what sounds like fluttering wings, to symbolize the protagonist's mental state.
  • Cries and Whispers: The title isn't for show. Unintelligible whispers can be heard whenever one of the main characters has a flashback. Also heard in the strange climactic scene that may or may not be Anna's daydream, when Agnes' corpse wakes up.
  • Don't Listen: The movie is peppered with instances of ghostly whispering throughout. Eric's voice is the only one that comes through clear as a bell on the recording equipment, and it wasn't even given the whole context or dialogue until the end.
  • Elves (2017): Can be heard at several moments over the course of the movie.
  • In The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, unintelligible whispering and echoing voices mumble and sussurate over the opening credits and through a pan over several Fictional Documents owned by an Occult Detective until settling on a photo (which contains evidence of a Mystery Cult), fading out when the opening notes of the soundtrack play. The whispering begins again during the closing credits.
  • Friday the 13th (1980) has the "ki ki ki ma ma ma" leitmotif. Yeah, probably the Ur-Example considering how that movie predated most other uses.
  • Whenever a Dementor shows up in the Harry Potter movies, whispers are heard in the background.
    • Also, whispering can be heard from the arch in the Department of Mysteries.
  • In The Haunting (1963), the Haunted Heroine can hear indistinct whispering and mumbling voices just outside her bedroom door at night. What they're saying is unclear, but she becomes convinced that they're torturing a child, who is probably also a ghost. It's implied that these are the voices of the house's ghosts, though which ghosts is a matter of fan speculation.
  • Paranormal Prison: Jacob hears these twice. First when he's in death row, and second when he's in a cell in Siberia (the prison's solitary confinement building). The second time compels him to decide he doesn't want to be there anymore.
  • The American remake of Shutter was both extremely egregious and random in its use of the whispers. Hell, the whispers were used both so often and in such strange contexts that they were more likely indicative of the ghost not being present in the scene.
  • In Trick 'r Treat, a group of kids pay a visit to the local quarry, the site of the famous Halloween School Bus Massacre, with some jack-o'-lanterns that are intended as tribute to the souls of the dead. It's actually an elaborate and very mean prank on one kid in particular, and nearly gets her killed. After the last of the jack-o'-lanterns is blown out, the quarry is suddenly filled with an eerie whispering. The intended victim of the prank is, ironically, the only one to make it out alive.

  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Ghosts: Literal example in For Love of Him, as a pair of ghosts, jealous of the living, whisper to a teenage boy to encourage his self-doubt and, in time, lure him into death with them.
  • While on a derelict space station in Galaxy of Fear: Ghost of the Jedi, Tash hears these even though no one else does. It's a while before she can better understand the ghost.
    • Army of Terror has the Kivan wraiths furiously whispering "Mammon! Murderer!" when a group that includes someone who helped kill them shows up.
  • A sign of paranormal activity in Lockwood & Co.. Only those with the particular Talent can hear them.
  • In Dora Wilk Series, Bogna can hear bodies of the dead whispering to her about how they died. It helps her work as a pathologist, even though they're cryptic sometimes.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Firestar's Quest, the new members of SkyClan end up hearing whispering voices in a cave, which turns out to be the place where they can commune with the spirits of their ancestors. Appropriately, they name it the Whispering Cave.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lost, where the whispers are people who died on the island and can't "move on".
  • In Teen Wolf, one of Lydia's powers is to hear the whispers of other banshees and, presumably, the dead.

  • Midnight Syndicate includes this on many of their tracks, especially in the Haunted House themed album The 13th Hour. "Footsteps in the Dust", "Sinister Pact", "Cellar", and "The Drawing Room" in particular make use of eerie whispers.

  • The Magnus Archives: occasional faint sounds and other happenings hint that something may be haunting, or at least watching, the Magnus Institute.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Wraith: The Oblivion, Pandemonium is the wraithly art used to create the sorts of things that go down during classic hauntings. One of its powers, "The Haunting", found in Wraith: the Great War, allows you to produce basic effects like this.

    Video Games 
  • Paper Dolls have several of these heard throughout the dank, dark halls of the Yin Mansion, where you'll often hear spirits of some old Dynasty behind doors before realizing you're actually alone. More often than not their whisperings reveals part of the mansion's dark history.
    Ghost of Madam Yin: [heard from behind a closed door] Why did you take my child? Why? Why???
    [swing doors open to... an empty corridor]
  • Silent Hill The monsters the protagonists face are typically physical entities, insomuch as the creatures can directly interact with and kill them. However, there are several times where the player can hear voices and whispers in the background.
    • One really spooky instance is in Silent Hill 2, where James is in the apartment building. Upon entering a certain room, the soundtrack goes very quiet, and you an hear a soft voice whisper something unintelligible.
    • All over the place in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. The echoes of past events usually are preceded by spooky whispers in the background.
  • Quake's soundtrack either used these, or had other effects to play creepy music.
  • Spirit Healers in World of Warcraft, if you're dead along with them.
    • Such whispering noises also appear in some of the haunted areas in the game, though you tend to have to have your sound settings set so that you can pick them up along with the other noises that plays.
  • Used a lot in Chzo Mythos as background music.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth uses these in the sewer section. Creepy as hell.
  • In X-Men Legends 2, the Madri Temple has this as part of its background music.
  • Featured in at least one level of Blood.
  • Dead Space has this by the truckload.
  • Happens every time a ghost is near in Fatal Frame. There are also several whispers in the background at random times, just to keep the player on edge. Several recordings that can be listened to throughout the series combine this with the "electronic voice phenomenon".
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, whispers emanate from the ash pits in Tribunal temples and ancestral tombs.
  • From time to time, you hear harsh voices from nowhere while exploring the Roivas Mansion in Eternal Darkness.
    • When your sanity starts going down, you start hearing a woman quietly crying in the background. Eventually she starts wailing at the top of her lungs.
  • In Luigi's Mansion you can hear the ghosts mumbling in the background of darkened areas.
  • In Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst, Emma's ghost is sometimes heared whispering vague warnings about the dangers of the manor. Return to Ravenhearst also features the same kind of whispers.
  • Thief's undead levels. Join us. JOIN US NOW! Killing the wraith does calm down the more aggressive whispering.
  • In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, the Black Slime causes this. Neutralizing the stuff with Green Slime removes it. Sometimes what they're saying is relevant to the plot. You shouldn't be here... you should have run away!
    Should we attack now? Wait until they get closer.
  • In Devil May Cry, as you run around the halls of the Mallet Island manor, you'll suddenly hear a rash of whispering voices.
  • Occurs often in the Nancy Drew series, such as when the player hears a disembodied voice whispering "I see you" in Message in a Haunted Mansion. However, all paranormal experiences in the games are eventually discovered to have been faked.
  • Something similar is used sporadically in Alien vs. Predator on the Atari Jaguar. But oddly, the Alien and the Predator can hear the voices in their campaigns, too.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: Under the effects of Scarecrow's fear gas, Batman hears voices in the asylum morgue telling him to get out.
  • Used to chilling effect in Warframe during the Deck 12 sequence, leading up to the Exploiter Orb boss fight. You hear distant, unnerving cries while approaching the location. However, when you reach the main doors, the cries disappear, to be replaced by a ghostly chorus softly humming a familiar tune...
  • Happens all the time in Control. The whispering is actually in-universe, as the non-violent victims of the Hiss all babble near-incoherently to themselves. As the Hiss has overtaken most of the building, the voices are an almost constant presence.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, whoever drinks from the Well of Sorrows will hear the whispering of the souls of the ancient elves. This includes the protagonist, and has small effects in gameplay post-finale and in the Trespasser DLC.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas if the player doesn’t have the radio on, horrible raspy whispers will sound at random times. Ghostly whispers also feature in the soundtrack, namely Monsters of the Mojave. Whispers also are heard in Goodsprings’ Cemetery when the radio is off.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • Employed in Ripley's Haunted Adventure by means of sound positioning so that as you walk through one the hallways, you start getting voices whispering from right behind you.
  • "Electronic voice phenomena" are unexplained voices and sounds that seem to imprint themselves directly onto various recording media during paranormal investigations. Regardless of whether one believes they are actually the voices of the dead or caused by a more mundane explanation, they are certainly creepy to listen to.