20 Horror Movies Based on True Stories

These horror movies are based on true stories. No wonder they are so scary. They are not only ghost stories, but also about haunted houses or possession. Horror movies on facts cover all the conventions of this film genre. A special place is occupied by stories about serial killers, whose crimes are chilling and even seem improbable. Their variety is the gore type, characterized by the presence of extremely gory scenes on the screen.

In addition to satanic horrors and gore, you can also find stories about monsters that ordinary elements of nature, such as birds or insects, can turn into. Fidelity to the original takes on varying degrees in the case of factual horror films. Sometimes it is a very detailed account of real events, and sometimes it is merely inspired by what took place. The most important thing here is always the intrusion of the inexplicable and irrational into ordinary life.

Scary Movies Based on True Stories

1. “Amityville Horror”, 1979

Horror movies based on true stories - Amityville

“Amityville” is Stuart Rosenberg’s acclaimed film based on a true story. The Lutz family buys a beautiful house outside the city unaware that more than a year earlier, a terrible crime had occurred at the property. Ronald Defeo shot his family of six to death, claiming that he was forced to do so by voices coming from the house. Soon the new tenants also begin to feel the strange aura of the possessed house. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music. In 2005 there was a remake of the famous horror film directed by Andre Douglas. At the time, the film starred Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George.

2. “The Exorcist”, 1973

Best horror movies based on true stories - The Exorcist

“The Exorcist” is a classic of the horror genre and at the same time a film inspired by real-life events. Namely, the plot refers to a case of possession of a teenage boy, which took place in 1949 in the USA, in the state of Iowa. The film features the character of a teenage girl, Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair). Her mother, concerned about her daughter’s strange behavior, decides to seek the advice of an experienced exorcist, Father Merrin (played by Max von Sydow). The film won two Oscars and four Golden Globes.

3. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, 2005

Horror films based on true stories - The Exorcism of Emily Rose

“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is one of the most famous fact-based horror films. The film is based on the story of a young German girl, Anneliese Michel, who died in 1976 after a series of exorcisms performed over her. The girl’s death was followed by a trial. It concluded that Michel died as a result of starvation and imposed a suspended prison sentence on two clergymen. In the film, the action is transferred to the United States. The film starred Jennifer Carpenter, Tom Wilkinson and Laura Linney.

4. “An American Haunting”, 2005

Best horror films based on true stories - An American Haunting

“An American Haunting” is a horror film based on the events of 1918, which took place in the state of Tennessee. One night the house of John Bell (Donald Sutherland), his wife Lucy (Sissy Spacek) and daughter Betsy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) is haunted by a ghost. From then on, very strange things begin to happen in the mansion. The man links these events to a dispute with a neighbor accused of witchcraft. However, the truth turns out to be quite different. The events in the state of Tennessee have been documented and described in dozens of books.

5. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, 2003

Horrors based on true stories - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a remake of Tobe Hooper’s famous 1974 horror film. The events depicted in the film took place a year earlier. The corpses of 33 people were found in a house in Texas and bestially murdered by an employee of a local slaughterhouse. The psychopath used a chainsaw and wore a mask made of human skin on his face. The film stars Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen and Mike Vogel, among others.

6. “The Hills Have Eyes”, 2006

Movies about serial killers based on true story The Hills have eyes

2006’s “The Hills Have Eyes”, on the other hand, is a remake of the Wes Craven film. The horror film was inspired by true events. After all, in the 16th century in Scotland lived a certain Sawney Beane, who created a sect that practiced cannibalism. The cult may still exist today. Here is a family taking a car trip through the desert. Unexpectedly, the car breaks down, and the tourists are attacked by mutant cannibals. The film belongs to the gore horror genre – with drastic scenes of violence and bloodshed.

7. “The Conjuring”, 2013

Scarriest horror movies based on true events - The Conjuring


“The Conjuring” is a horror film based on the story of paranormal investigators, the Warren couple. Lorraine (Vera Fermiga) and Ed (Patric Wilson) one day receive an assignment from a family who claims that their home has been haunted by demons. They decide to investigate, and on the spot they realize they have to face something they’ve never faced before. The Perron family lived in a haunted house in Harrisville for 10 years, unsuccessfully trying to restore normalcy to their daily lives.

8. “Them” (“Ils”), 2006

Horrors based on true events - Them 2006

“Them” is a gripping French-Romanian horror film based on true events. Clementine and Lucas are spending the weekend at their remote house. During the night, they receive a strange phone call, then someone steals their car from the driveway. When Lucas manages to find out what happened, a group of teenagers bursts into the house and sets up a bloody hunt for the couple.

9. “The Silence of the Lambs”, 1991

Horror movies based on true events - The Silence of the Lambs

“The Silence of the Lambs”, the most famous film of Anthony Hopkins’ career, is also a fact-based horror film. The prototype of Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist-psychopath who murdered people and consumed their flesh, was an authentic Mexican prison surgeon, Dr. Alfredo Ball Trevino, whom Thomas Harris, author of the books that formed the basis of the screenplay, met in the 1960s. Moreover, there have been several cases of cannibalism in the US, one of which was the acts of Albert Fish, who attacked women in New York.

10. “The Strangers”, 2008

Terrifying True Story Horror Movies - The Strangers

“The Strangers” is another horror film based on true events. Kirsten (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) sneak out of their friends’ wedding reception to spend an intoxicating night together at James’ parents’ summer house. In the morning, however, the couple is attacked by three masked individuals.

11. “The Raven”, 2012

Horrors films inspired by real-life events - The Raven 2012

The Raven” is a horror film inspired by the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe. A serial killer appears in Baltimore, who models his gruesome crimes on ideas from the famous writer’s novels and short stories. So Edgar Poe is asked by the police to help capture the dangerous psychopath. John Cusack played the lead role, while Luke Evans and Alice Eve provided the other performances.

12. “Poltergeist”, 1982

Scary Horror Movies based on true stories - Poltergeist

“Poltergeist” is one of Tobe Hooper’s most famous films, and what’s more, a horror movie based on true events. A family of Freelings moves into a new house. Soon the children begin to mention to the adults that they don’t feel safe. The initially skeptical parents soon also notice disturbing signs. It turns out that the house was built on an old Indian cemetery. Similar events unfolded in 1958 at the Seaford home of the Hermanns in upstate New York.

13. “The Rite”, 2011

Horror based on a true story - The Rite 2011

“The Rite” is a horror film loosely based on the story of a priest who trains as an exorcist in the Vatican. The clergyman is deep down quite skeptical about paranormal phenomena. Over time, under the influence of Lucas’ aged father and personal experiences, his approach to the question of faith changes dramatically. The prototype of the main character was Father Gary Thomas, who collaborated with the filmmakers during its creation. The leading roles were played by Anthony Hopkins and Colin O’Donoghue.

14. “Deliver Us from Evil”, 2014

Horror movie based on a true story - Deliver us from evil

“Deliver Us From Evil” is a horror film based on the memoirs of a New York police officer working with a Catholic exorcist on particularly difficult cases. In the film, Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) tries to solve the mystery of a series of brutal murders. At one point, he decides to reach out for the help of Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez).

15. “Wolf Creek”, 2005

20 best horror movies based on true stories - Wolf Creek 2015

“Wolf Creek” is a story set in Australia. While traveling through the desert, a group of friends’ car breaks down. Unexpectedly, a man offers to help them. It soon turns out that the stranger does not have good intentions. The film was inspired by the story of a murderer, Ivan Milat, who murdered at least seven young people traveling in Australia in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

16. “The Haunting in Connecticut”, 2009

20 best horror films based on true stories - The Haunting in Connecticut

“The Haunting in Connecticut” presents the story of a cancer-stricken boy who moves to a new house with his mother. It soon becomes apparent that evil forces have accumulated in the new premises in an attempt to destroy the residents. The family discovers that the place previously housed a funeral parlor, and its owners practiced the occult. Starring Kyle Gallner, Amanda Crew and Elias Koteas.

17. “The Sacrament”, 2013

Horror movies based on true stories list The Sacrament 2013

“The Sacrament” is the story of a journalist looking for his missing sister. Together with a friend, they go to a strange community – Eden Parish – where they find the girl. It soon becomes apparent that they are all trapped in a dangerous sect. The film was inspired by the events of 1978, when the residents of the Jonestown settlement, influenced by the teachings of a guru, committed mass suicide.

18. “Winchester”, 2018

Scary films based on true events - Winchester 2018

“Winchester” is a true story based horror film starring Helen Mirren. The Winchester of the title is a repeating rifle developed by William Winchester, but also the name of the designer and his widow. Mrs. Winchester is haunted by the ghosts of people killed with this weapon. In order to protect herself from them, the widow orders the erection of a huge mansion-labyrinth to ensure her safety.

19. “Colonia”, 2015

really scary horror movies based on true stories - Colonia 2015

“Colonia” is a heterogeneous genre film with features of thriller, horror and drama. It depicts a true story from the 1970s. A young flight attendant Lena (Emma Watson) spends romantic moments with her boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Bruhl) studying in Chile. Unexpectedly, a revolution breaks out in the country and the man is deported to Colonia Dignidad. The girl sets out to follow her beloved. It turns out that Colonia is an outrageous sect. The couple makes a desperate attempt to escape.

20. “Veronica”, 2017

2- horror films inspired by real-life events Veronica 2017

“Veronica” is a Spanish fact-based horror film. The main character of the film is a young girl who, one evening, along with her high school friends, participates in a spiritualist séance, playing Ouija. Two days later, she starts hallucinating, and strange things begin to happen in her house. Demons haunt the teenager’s entire family. Soon the helpless girl reports the case to the police in Madrid. The events really took place in the 1990s in the Spanish capital.

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