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Based on a True (Horror) Story

There are many horror films “based on” and “inspired by” real stories, or so they claim. Some are met rightfully with skepticism, with others managing to become total classics. Films like The Exorcist (1973), The Amityville Horror (1979), and The Conjuring (2013) delivered stories of the supernatural to the big screen, while The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and The Strangers (2008) pulled inspiration from notorious killers.

Whether you believe the tales or not, here are a few other “Based on a True Story” movies to add to your list this Halloween. And if you’re curious as to the stories that inspire them, I’ll leave links for some. But beware, they may pose a few spoilers.

Aftermath (2021)

After a brutal murder-suicide, Kevin (Shawn Ashmore) convinces his wife Natalie (Ashley Greene) to purchase the home; since it’s at an unbeatable price. With their marriage falling apart, the two hope this marks a fresh start. But as they settle in, Kevin begins to receive kinky deliveries that he never ordered. Even more disturbing, Natalie fears someone is breaking into their home and playing tricks on her.

The film is seemingly “inspired by” a few stories, making it feel a bit stuffed. It also struggles to hold onto the narrative of the failing marriage, perhaps due to a weak and disjointed script. It takes a hokey turn towards the end, but I will say it has some pretty spooky scenes that’ll give you a good spine-tingle.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Inspired By: San Diego Couple Terrorized | Unknown Houseguest

Silent House (2011)

Elizabeth Olsen stars in this indie that takes viewers on a psychological horror ride. It follows Sarah, who spends a night terrorized by something inside her family’s countryside home. The gimmick was that it was filmed in one continuous real-time shot — although it’s just edited to appear as such.

It’s a remake of the film La Casa Muda, which is said to be based on a story from the 1940s in Uruguay. But whether that’s true is a mystery.

Where to Watch: rental

The Disappointments Room (2016)

While I gave this film a less-than-favorable review a few years ago, I do think it’s fascinating that it’s based on a true story. It follows a family who relocates from their big city life to a rundown estate in the country. As your standard haunted house film, it misses the mark in a lot of ways. The real horrors are when you find out rooms like the one in the film once existed.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Inspired By: The ‘Real’ Disappointments Room

The Possession (2012)

Majorly influenced by The Exorcist, this film still manages to stir up some mild frights, even if doesn’t veer far from the expected. The film follows a young girl who, after purchasing an antique box, finds herself plagued by an evil entity.

Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick, The Possession is packed with cliches, but it does switch things up by focusing on Jewish mythology. The real story behind the film is that of an eBay listing for a “haunted Jewish wine cabinet box”.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Inspired By: Haunted Dybbuk Box Won on eBay

The Quiet Ones (2014)

The Quiet Ones, starring Sam Claflin and Olivia Cooke, takes viewers along as an Oxford professor goes to extreme lengths to prove a theory that possessions and ghosts are simply manifestations of the mind and not the supernatural.

It’s an interesting premise, even if it does feel stale in the second act. The story behind the film is the “Philip” experiment, where a group essentially crafted a spirit from just their thoughts. It’s pretty far from the real-life experiment, but it did inspire another film, 2012’s The Apparition, if you want to check that out too.

Where to Watch: HBO Max

Inspired By: Philip Experiment


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