Horror movies based on true events are always way more horrifying than a plain old ghost story, which is why so many make this claim. Films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity thrived off the idea that the film was actually genuine found-footage and continued to become ever so popular due to this.
Stories that could be real and have been proven to happen and stories based on true events haunt viewers to the core with the simple idea of “that could have been me.” A lot of people don’t believe in ghosts, and even less believe that ghosts could actually haunt or possess people in the way they do in horror movies. Yet, ghost stories seem to be one of the most popular in the genre. Here are some famous paranormal horror movies that were based on actual reported hauntings.
The real story of Sarah Winchester goes like this: she was a widow to the son of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company’s fortune. Once he passed, Sarah had been convinced by a local psychic that she had a curse placed upon her by all the people who had been killed with a Winchester gun. Sarah believed the psychic’s tellings due to her unfortunate life and the death of everyone around her, and she was also told that as long as she kept on adding new segments to the house, she would be safe. The spirits that were plaguing her would be confused and not immediately enter the “new” part of the house.
9. The Conjuring
The Conjuring is based on the haunting Perron family in Rhode Island. The film is the beginning of The Conjuring series and universe that follows Ed and Lorraine Warren, two very real and famous paranormal investigators during the 1970s. The house reported had a number of ghosts haunting the premise, but one, in particular, that was incredibly malevolent spirit named Bathsheba, a rumored witch who had lived in the farmhouse nearly an entire century prior. The real Perrons and Lorainne consulted with the crew of this film to make sure it was an accurate telling of what happened on that farm.
8. The Conjuring 2
Like the first film, The Conjuring 2 is also based on true events. This film dramatized the story a lot more and added a number of different spirits who were irrelevant to the actual haunting. This story took place in London, and the Warrens barely took part in the investigation. Dubbed the Enfield Poltergeist, the Hodgeson family was being haunted by a man named Bill Wilkins, who had reportedly lived in the house before them and died of a brain hemorrhage.
Bill is said to have possessed one of the three children of the family, Janet. The interesting note about this case is that it is also one of the first times a “ghost” was listed in a police report as two of the officers who responded to a call saw chairs moving without being forced. There is also a recording that could be found online of Bill speaking throw Janet in a deep man’s voice telling the interviewer about his life.
7. The Exorcist
The Exorcist is sometimes regarded as the horror movie that started the fascination with ghosts and the paranormal and is still dubbed as one of the scariest movies of all time. The film was based on the possession of a fourteen-year-old boy under the pseudonym Roland Doe that had begun to act rather strangely after using an Ouija Board.
Roland had scratches all over his body, his parents could hear disembodied voices, and, like every story on this list so far, furniture would move unexpectedly. The family called Catholic Priest Raymond J. Bishop, who recorded his notes in a journal that was later used in the making of the film.
6. The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
Another possession story, only this film also questions the integrity and truth of possession over mental illness. A lot of people question whether Roland from The Exorcist story was actually possessed. Some even questioned if he was real at all. The Exorcism of Emily Rose plays on this doubt. The film all takes place during a court case against the Catholic church for neglect. One side argues possession, while the other argues mental illness.
At 17, Annalise Michel was diagnosed with epilepsy, but the medications didn’t help, as she claimed she was a being possessed. After taking a number of other medications for other illnesses and undergoing 67 exorcisms in a span of 10 months, Annalise stopped eating and died of starvation. Her parents and the priests were convicted of negligent homicide for allowing her to starve.
5. Child’s Play
Chucky is famous for being a murderous doll trying to put his soul into the human body to literally get away with murder. Chucky was able to place his corrupted soul in the body of the “Good Guy” doll using voodoo. The story of Child’s Play is actually based on the story of Robert the Doll, who still resides down in Key West, Florida.
Robert was a doll owned by painter Robert Eugene Otto and was allegedly gifted to him by a young woman as retaliation for the wrongdoings his family did to her. After Robert received the doll, he gave his name to the doll and asked to be called Eugene from then on. Whenever something went wrong in the house, or mischieve acts were done, Eugene always blamed Robert. While his parents didn’t listen to him, Eugene’s mother felt threatened by the dependence her son had on Robert and ended up locking him away upstairs. People who would pass by the house would sometimes see Robert looking out the window, his gaze following them as they passed.
Like Robert the Doll, Annabelle is another possessed doll story. This story was made popular by The Conjuring series, as the doll had its first appearance in the first film and then received its own three films. The actual Annabelle doll is a Raggedy Ann and can be found in the Warren’s Occult Museum.
The story of Annabelle is very similar to the first few minutes of the Annabelle film. Roommates found the doll, and, no matter what they did, it would always come back. Eventually, they called the Warrens, who had claimed an “inhuman presence” had attached itself to the doll and took it off their hands.
3. The Possession
The Possession is about a haunted item called a Dybbuk Box. The Dybbuk Box is said to hold a demon that escaped Sheol. The owner of the box, James Haxton, who received it from an estate sale, had a number of strange happenings when the box was under his care.
He got the box for his mother as a birthday gift, and she almost instantly had a stroke after receiving it. Later, he had a number of people in his house who all had the same horrifying nightmare the same night. After this, James listed the box on eBay.
Poltergeist is another famous ghost story of a family moving to a house that sat on an ancient burial ground. The Hermann family in Long Island, New York moved into a new home that they soon discovered to be haunted. The happenings in the house were like that of a typical haunting; things moved when no one was around, chairs would flip and get thrown around, getting more and more violent until the family moved away.
1. The Amityville Horror
The Amityville Horror is based on true events in which Ed and Lorainne are actually most famous for. Fans of The Conjuring series are hoping for the universe’s own rendition of the story. The story is about a family that moves into a house for super cheap due to a wild murder-suicide by the family that was there prior.
The new family is haunted by the spirits of the previous family and by the spirits that were said to have possessed the killer in the first place. The picture above was caught during a tour years later, supposedly of the youngest boy killed.