10 Terrifying True Story Horror Movies That'll Have You Sleeping With The Lights On – Collider

All these movies are based on terrifying true stories.
There's something undeniably, albeit a tad morbidly appealing, about the horror genre that has the capability of hooking us from the moment we press play. Whether you're a fan of horror movies for their scare factor, the anticipation that accompanies them, or the sheer adrenaline rush they can put us through. And while most films in the genre are that of fictional events, there are some that take inspiration from true stories, and it can make the viewing experience that much more chilling.
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From unexplainable paranormal activity that shakes you to your core, like the harrowing inspiration behind The Conjuring franchise, to the crimes of serial killers, horror stories come in many forms that can send a chill down your spine at the mere thought. But when you mix the sometimes incomprehensible events with a look at the real people it affected, the term horror story can be that much more daunting to watch play out on the big screen.
Real-time indie psychological horror film Silent House stars Elizabeth Olsen as Sarah, a young woman who finds herself in a living nightmare when she falls victim to an unknown perpetrator intent on hunting her down.
A remake of the Urayguan film La Casa Muda from the previous year, and with it being such a low-budget feature, critics didn't praise it too highly. But despite its poor critical reception, it was a major box office success, gaining $13.1 million on a budget of just $2 million. The film is allegedly inspired by the events that happened to a little boy in 1940s Uraguay.
2007s Zodiac has a star-studded cast that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, and Mark Ruffalo. It's told from the point of view of detectives involved in the manhunt for the unidentified serial killer. While any film covering the topic of serial killers has the potential to leave you feeling unsettled by the end, there's something about the mystery surrounding this case that you'll have a hard time shaking off.
Most people at some point in their lives have heard the name Zodiac Killer. He was an unidentified murderer that terrorized the city of San Francisco in the late 1960s and 1970s, wreaking havoc with the killings and a twisted game of cat and mouse with the police and media. But what makes this true story horror/crime drama stand out? The case is still open, and the Zodiac Killer was never caught.
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Drug lords, ritualistic cults, and human sacrifices? An average occurrence in this American-Mexican horror film centering on the disturbing true story of Adolfo Constanzo and his satanic cult, dubbed the Narcosatanists by the media.
While Constanzo and his cult were supposedly responsible for the deaths of an estimated 26 torture murders, of which 16 are confirmed true, in Matamoros in 1989, the film centers on three college students who fall victim to the Satanists. Borderland's heartbreaking inspiration comes from Mark's horrific hours-long torture and subsequent murder at the hands of the Narcosatanists.
There are plenty of big and small screen shows and movies surrounding the infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, the latest being the Netflix series DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. But 2017s My Friend Dahmer tells the harrowing story of one of the world's most notorious killers from a different perspective, from the eyes of a young high school Dahmer.
Starring Ross Lynch, the film takes viewers into the backstory of Jeffrey's childhood, his parents, how high school life was for him, and so on. And, while no murders visibly occur in the movie, besides some poor animals that fell victim to Jeffrey's obsession with knowing how they "fitted together," it's a spine-chilling look into the mind of a murderer in the build-up to his first human kill.
Veronica premiered on Netflix in 2017. Upon release, it was dubbed one of the scariest horror movies in recent years. The Spanish supernatural horror film follows the mysterious death of Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro, a young woman who died unexplainably after using an ouija board in 1991.
While it may only be loosely based on the events that happened in the district of Vallecas in Madrid, it's spine-chillingly terrifying nonetheless, making your skin crawl with very few special effects to help it out. One thing's for sure it'll make you never want to mess with an ouija board in any way, shape, or form.
Loosely inspired by the crimes of American body snatcher and murderer Ed Gein, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has depictions of human skin masks, which was something Gein partook in, along with keeping human trophies in the forms of skin and bones.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre found great difficulty seeing the light of day, even getting banned in multiple countries for being too violent. Despite its troubles, the movie has become one of the most influential horror movies of all time, and Leatherface has become one of the most well-known horror characters. Despite its low budget and rough production, it has since sparked a franchise with numerous remakes, sequels, prequels, video games, and comic books.
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2005's The Exorcism of Emily Rose is one of those horror movies that'll leave you with goosebumps, but not from its gore or violence. While it may not be as gory as other horror movies, it has a truly upsetting aspect to it when you consider the heartbreaking inspiration behind it.
Believed to be possessed by demons, Anneliese Michel's family took it upon themselves to subject her to a total of 67 exorcism sessions over the span of a year, of which she died from malnutrition and dehydration as a result. Anneliese's story is tragic and has inspired multiple adaptations to screen, but The Exorcism of Emily Rose has become one of the most famous exorcism movies of all time.
The definition of an oldie but a goodie comes with the 1960s horror thriller Psycho. It's a must-watch for any self-proclaimed horror movie fan if you haven't already seen it a few dozen times. While Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho revolutionized the genre, it took cues from the infamous serial killer Ed Gein.
Gein's crimes have inspired various horror flicks, including the 1974 films Deranged and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Hitchcock's Psycho was one of the first. The movie itself will live on forever in the hearts and minds of horror fans everywhere and is often considered not just one of the greatest horror movies but one of the greatest films, in general, of all time.
The Conjuring universe currently consists of eight films, with a three in the works for future releases. With a combined budget of $178 million, the franchise retains a total of $2.1 billion in box office success, making it the highest-grossing horror franchise of all time.
While each entry in the universe has the capability of sending a chill down your spine, the first The Conjuring is arguably the most fear-inducing. Based on paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, widely known for their involvement in famous hauntings, like at Amityville, the plot followed the Warrens and their subsequent investigation into the progressively disturbing and unexplainable occurrences in a Rhode Island farmhouse in 1971.
Almost 50 years after the release of this horror classic and it continues to terrify audiences even today. But despite its popularity among horror fans, many people may not know the inspiration behind it. The Exorcist was an adaptation of a book of the same name by William Peter Blatty, based on a little boy supposedly possessed by demons in 1941.
With an exorcism so horrifying that stories and even books were written about witnesses of the ordeal, it's safe to say it's earned its title as one of the scariest horror movies of all time.
KEEP READING: Reasons Why 'The Exorcist' is Still One of the Scariest Movies Ever Made

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