It’s easy to say monsters aren’t real when dealing with the run-of-the-mill horror movies filled with jumpscares and transparent apparitions. And when we are completely out-of-mind terrified of what’s happening on the big screen, our brains are usually rational enough to say, “Hey, chill, it’s not real.” (Even if it’s usually followed by “but what if it was?” while you jump away from shadowy corners.)
But that certainly isn’t for all horror movies, particularly those that were modelled after real-life demons and incidents. Still, if you think you can handle the long-lasting paranoia that comes after watching such movies, here’s a list of scary movies based on real-life incidents that are sure to petrify you for a while.1. A Nightmare On Elm Street
© New Line Cinema
Often hailed as one of the greatest horror movies of all times, A Nightmare on Elm Street will have you scared to the bones of giving into sleep. Though the characters are fictionalised, you might be surprised to know that the idea of being frightened to death in your sleep is not that far fetched even in reality.
In fact, it’s based on a condition called sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS), which causes people to suddenly die in their sleep, and was first noted among southeast Asian in the US in 1977. And that’s where the director, Wes Craven, drew inspiration from.2. Annabelle
© Warner Bros
Is there anyone alive who isn’t scared of creepy dolls? While the fear might have been cultivated in response to Chucky, the doll from Child’s Play, it’s not as unreasonable as you’d think. From voodoo dolls to actual kids dolls like Robert, there are plenty of rumoured haunted dolls to make you want to never buy one again.
Annabelle is one such doll, and it inspired its namesake character and movie in The Conjuring franchise. The doll itself currently resides in paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren’s occult museum.3. Backcountry
© IFC Films
Everyone knows that the real horrors lie in the jungles, and perhaps that’s one of the thrills of camping for some. Still, there are tons of horrifying true stories to be found on humans going against nature, and the 2014 nature survival horror film Backcountry is based on one such story.
Though the characters in the movie are fictionalised, the film’s based on the story of a wild bear that attacked Mark Jordan and Jacqueline Perry in 2005. If your friends are trying to convince you to go camping and you have no plans of stepping a foot outside, then we suggest planning a movie night and putting this on! Who knows, they might have a sudden change of heart.4. The Silence of the Lambs
© Orion Pictures
Though ghosts and the paranormal don’t exist in The Silence of the Lambs, there are plenty of monsters. This 1991 psychological horror and thriller was based on the 1988 novel of the same name by Thomas Harris. And though the narrative of the story itself is fictional, the horrors inside are inspired by true events and serial killers that have haunted our world.
According to the writer of the book, the characters are based on real-life people, such as the infamous Hannibal Lecter who was based on Dr. Salazar (or Alfredo Ballí Treviño), a convicted doctor Harris met in a Mexican state prison. The character of Buffalo Bill was based largely on serial killer Ed Gein as well as others like Ted Bundy and Gary Heidnik.5. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
© Sony Pictures
Loosely based on the story of Anneliese Michel, a German woman who went through 67 exorcisms in the year before she died. The story might be categorised better as a psychological and legal thriller than horror in the true sense, but made this list due to the elements of real vs. fictional that will keep you up at night wondering what might have really happened to the poor girl, both in the sense of the paranormal and the “exorcisms” she went through.
It tells the story of a courtroom case after the death of Emily Rose who was diagnosed with epilepsy and schizophrenia and took psychiatric medications to no avail — after which her parents resorted to exorcism due to her descriptions of her delusions.
Of course, this list is by no means an exhaustive one, so we’d love to hear your favourites! Leave us recommendations in the comments below, and we’d love to hear what you think about the ones mentioned above.