15 Horror Films Based on Terrifying True Events

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As a horror movie fanatic, I think films that are based on real-life events are just a little more creepy – don’t you agree? It gives them an air of realism (even if they’re about the supernatural) that many totally fictional horror movies just can’t match.

Members of the Buzzfeed Community weighed in with their favorite horror movies based on scary, true-life events.

How many of these have you seen?

1. 10 Rillington Place (1971)

“It’s based on real-life murderer John Christie who killed several women, including his wife, and hid their bodies in the garden. It was even filmed just down the road from the real house.”

2. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

“This one is very loosely based on the true story of Anneliese Michel. My roommate owned this movie and — after we watched it — I made her throw it out.”

3. Compliance (2012)

“I feel like not very many people know about this movie. It’s based on true events and the reality of the story was even worse because a lot of the victims in real life were between 14 and 16 years old. It shows how much common sense people lack, but also how much people would do for authority. Overall, it’s a really difficult movie to watch.”

4. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

“Okay, so this one really freaked me out. The fact that it’s loosely based on Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole — who have been reported to have killed, like, 100 people between the two of them — seriously scares me. The scene that will always trip me out is when, after they kill a woman, they’re just sitting around watching it back on a tape they recorded. It seriously made my skin crawl to know that there were real people like that out there who were capable of doing those types of horrific things.”

5. Hounds of Love (2016)

“It’s a 2016 Australian horror movie that follows a teen girl named Vicki as she’s held captive by a couple, and must drive a wedge between the two to escape. It’s based on the Moorhouse Murders committed by David and Catherine Birnie who had abducted, raped, and killed 4 women in 1986. Their last victim survived by escaping out of a window and then fighting off a dog before managing to get to the police. The absolute worst part of the story is that THE POLICE DIDN’T BELIEVE HER! The only woman on the staff — who was extremely inexperienced — finally took her statement and was able to bring the couple into custody.”

6. Psycho (1960)

“I watched this classic for the first time on my laptop at 1 a.m. and thought it was horrifying enough, given Alfred Hitchcock’s directing and the way he created suspense, but when I found out later that it was loosely based on a true story…that made it even more horrifying.”

7. Annabelle (2014)

“I’m not a huge fan of horror movies in general, but I am still into everything having to do with the paranormal. The first time I found out that Annabelle was a real doll — and was actually a Ragedy Ann doll that is now in a haunted museum locked in a glass box — I was pretty terrified. Still, it would have been pretty funny if the movies actually used a Ragedy Ann doll.”

8. The Haunted (1991)

“It’s a made for TV movie. I was a pre-teen when this movie aired and it really creeped me out. I remember my mother — who never did this before or after — asked me to come sleep in her room because she was so terrified. The movie is based on real things that happened to the Smurl family. I looked them up not too long ago and read that they even sought the help of the Warrens (the couple from The Conjuring franchise), but the duo were no help to them. I really hope this movie get remade one day. I have only seen it once and it has really stuck with me through all these years.”

9. Borderland (2007)

“This movie (which I watched alone one night while my mom was working) is about a group of college students on Spring Break accidentally getting involved with a Mexican cult that’s big on human sacrifice. The movie is based on a real guy, Adolfo Constanzo, who was a self-proclaimed ‘witch doctor.’ He worked with the Mexican drug cartels in the 1980’s while killing American co-eds who crossed the border as a hobby. As someone who grew up on the Texas/Mexico border, it was terrifying and still freaks me out to this day.”

10. The Girl Next Door (2007)

“A young woman is methodically tortured, abused, and eventually killed by the family that was supposed to be taking care of her. It’s based on the real-life experience of Sylvia Likens, who’s parents left her and her little sister to be taken care of by the woman who would eventually torture and murder her. I watched this years ago because I’m a true crime junkie, and I have not been able to watch again. It’s sickening what happened to this poor girl…”

11. Backcountry (2014)

“It’s based on the true story of a couple who went camping in the woods and ended up getting attacked by a bear. I’ve seen lots of really scary supernatural films, but what made this one different is how realistic it is because it could (and literally did) happen. I’ll honestly never go camping in the woods because of this film.”

12. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

“Not a traditional horror movie, but this film with Zac Efron portraying Ted Bundy really freaked me out. Even thinking about it gives me goosebumps. The fact that a ‘seemingly normal,’ good looking, polite man could be so incredibly evil inside really gets to me. It really showed that murderers aren’t always sneaky people hiding behind masks. They can be our funny, kind next door neighbors.”

13. Wolf Creek (2005)

“While it was not completely based on a true story, it WAS inspired by real events (as stated at the beginning of the movie). It was just cruel. You don’t want to think people can do those types of things to other people.”

14. The Strangers (2008)

“After watching this my boyfriend and I went to Lake Tahoe and stayed in a creepy big cabin all alone close to a town where some real murders actually happened (the Keddie Cabin murders). Needless to say…I didn’t sleep a lot that weekend.”

15. The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

“The movie says it’s based on actual events that happen between 1966 and 1967. I literally still can’t look out of windows at night because of this movie.”

If you can add to this creepy list, share your thoughts with us in the comments!