While you can take comfort in the fact that most horror films are made-up tales, there are a select few in the genre that is based on real events (or at least claim to be). Here are five chilling stories that are either definitively or supposedly based on true events.
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Having spawned a number of other films inspired by Jay Anson’s 1977 novel of the same name, The Amityville Horror quickly became one of the highest-grossing independent films ever created. It’s based on the true story of the Amityville Haunting, where a couple moved into a house where a horrific family murder took place. Not too long later, they left the house claiming that it was haunted by paranormal entities. Of course, the supernatural aspect isn’t something confirmed real, and most of the film focuses on the paranormal activity which supposedly occurred at the house.
Directed by Gerald Kargl, this Austrian cult classic is easily my favorite of the films on this list. It’s loosely based on real-life mass murderer Werner Kniesek and it does a fantastic job at mixing extreme violence with pure psychological terror. In fact, it was so disturbing that it was banned all over the entire continent of Europe for quite a while. It boasts some absolutely stellar camerawork, the score is fantastic, and the acting is top-notch. This is a must-see in my book.
The Manson Family (2003)
Completely based on the widely-known Manson family, there’s not much I can say about the events behind this one that you probably don’t already know. The film itself is widely thought to be average, but it’s pretty hard to make something not disturbing when it’s based on the following of Charles Manson.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Yet another paranormal film based on mere claims, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is also partially a legal drama. It follows the case of an accidental homicide caused by a priest performing an exorcism, with a large focus on the filthy “non-believers” convicting a man of God. This one isn’t too scary if you aren’t Christian, but it’s an interesting work nonetheless.
The Conjuring (2013)
Similarly to The Amityville Horror, The Conjuring spawned a number of sequels claiming to also be based on true stories. It’s a very traditional story about exorcists helping a family rid their home of ghostly beings, and it became a household name of a blockbuster franchise within less than a decade. Personally, I don’t get the hype. It wasn’t much more than a dull, uninteresting ghost story to me. It relied more on jump scares than it should’ve, which is also something I immensely dislike.
Which of these are you most interested in? Personally, I far prefer the two that are grounded in reality to the more fantastical tales.