‘It’s the scariest movie of the year’. Meh. ‘Based on a true story’. Holy sh*t, things just got real.
It’s like an unspoken rule of ghost movies: when a horror movie is based on a true story, the spook level is multiplied a hundred times. That’s the reason why filmmakers love taking real life hauntings, turn it into a horror story, and laugh all the way to the bank. No offence, ‘Paranormal Activity’, but you're just cartoon compared to true story horror movies.
The latest to join the list this year is James Wan’s critically acclaimed ‘The Conjuring’. Arguably one of the scariest horror films this year, it tells the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively), two paranormal researchers who were called in by the Perrons to investigate the paranormal activities that are going on in their new home. But unbeknownst to the Warrens, the demonic entity that is inside the house is now going after them instead.
But of course, ‘The Conjuring’ isn't the only horror movie based on real life events. We take a look at five other true story horror movies:
1) The Amityville Horror (2005)
One of the most famous true story horror movies, ‘The Amityville Horror’ was based on a book written by real life couple George and Kathy Lutz. In 1976, the pair moved into a house in Long Island which had been the scene of a horrifying mass murder where a man brutally murdered six of his family members back in 1974. Of course, spooky things started happening the moment the Lutzs moved in; they would hear disembodied voices during the day, feel cold spots all around the house, see demonic imagery and they even witnessed their walls ‘bleeding’ green slime. The real Ed and Lorraine Warren, the stars of ‘The Conjuring’, were invited to investigate the house, with Lorraine claiming afterwards that the hauntings weren’t a hoax as claimed by some. The place was so haunted and the demonic presence was so violent; the pair moved out after just 28 days.
2) The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
To be honest, ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ was a pretty scary movie, and it’s ten times scarier when you find out that the movie was based on a 16-year-old German girl named Anneliese Michel. In 1968, the once bubbly teenager began displaying symptoms of a demonic possession. For years, it was claimed that Anneliese had been hearing voices telling her she was “damned” and she would “rot in hell”. She started to starve and abuse herself, and in 1975, with her parents convinced that she was possessed by several demons, two priests performed an exorcism on her over a period of ten months. During that time, Anneliese barely ate and in July 1976, she passed away due to starvation. The two priests and her parents were tried and found guilty of manslaughter, and was sentenced to six months in prison.
3) The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
In 1986, Carmen Snedeker and her husband rented a place in Connecticut to be close to the specialists who were treating their 14-year-old son Paul for cancer. The family later discovered that the house used to be a funeral parlour, and soon after, Paul began having demonic visions and started seeing spirits. The Snedekers then started hearing disembodied voices and seeing shadowy figures, with Carmen describing one of the demons being “very thin, with high cheekbones, long black hair and pitch black eyes”. Things got even creepier when a disturbed Paul became possessed and started attacking his family members. Ed and Lorraine Warren were called in to investigate and after conducting an exorcism to cleanse the house, Lorraine told reporters that the actual case was "much, much scarier than any movie could ever be”. Yikes! How creepy is that?
4) The Entity (1982)
‘The Entity’ is one of the scariest movies ever made, and the real life story it was based on is even scarier. Described as one of the most disturbing paranormal events ever recorded, a woman named Doris Bither claimed that she was abused and raped by unseen entities. After suffering from countless vicious attacks, both physically and sexually, Doris sought help from paranormal researchers Kerry Gaynor and Barry Taff in 1974. And the spirits did not disappoint: Kerry and Barry witnessed objects move in her house, balls of light floating about and even captured an apparition, although it did not attack Doris. After much deliberation, Doris moved out of the house and the haunting stopped.
5) The Exorcist (1973)
‘The Exorcist’ is already scary enough, right? Especially when it was crowned the scariest movie of all-time by several magazines. But what if we told you that the film was loosely based on a true event? The film was based on the actual exorcism conducted on a 14-year-old boy in 1949. The boy, pseudonymously known as Roland Doe, attempted to communicate with his aunt several days after her death using the Ouija board and needless to say, very creepy things started to happen right after. Furniture started moving by itself, scratching and knocking could be heard on a nightly basis and Roland’s bed would violently shake and even levitate. Roland’s neighbours also began to notice strange things happening in the house, and when the boy’s behaviour changed drastically – he was shying away from sacred objects and speaking in a deep, evil voice – several priests were called in to perform an exorcism. They reportedly performed more than 30 exorcisms on a Roland, with a priest reported seeing the word “evil” and "hell" mysteriously appearing on the boy’s body. After the process, it was claimed that Roland returned to normal. Of course, the possession in the film was exaggerated, but the real story was sh*t scary nonetheless.