The thrill of a good horror movie is feeling immersed in the intensity of a dangerous situation, all the while knowing that it’s all just a work of fiction. But what happens when that rush of cinematic fear is prefaced with “based on a true story?” You no longer have the comfort of calming your nerves with “it’s all just make-believe.” For movie studios, the hype that surrounds a horror film that claims to be based on a true story results in box office gold.
Without a doubt, the highest grossing horror films that claim to be based on a true story are the ones that have involved the paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Their most notable cases that went Hollywood are The Amityville Horror, The Haunting In Connecticut, and most recently The Conjuring. Soon the Warrens will have yet another Hollywood blockbuster attached to them when the reported The Conjuring sequel, based on another one of their paranormal case files, comes out. So what’s the next “based on a true story” movie going to be about? It’s still too early to tell, but a quote by Ed and Lorraine's son-in-law Tyler gives us a little insight into some of the cases they might be considering:
"The sequel to The Conjuring has NOT been determined yet. The Enfield Poltergeist case is only one of about a dozen cases being considered for the sequel. The Annabelle doll, the Satanic Idol found in the woods, Amityville, the Maurice Exorcism, and others have all been talked about. It is way too early to discuss which case will be the basis for the next installment of The Conjuring."
The question that emerges once financial gain becomes an issue is: how much is actually true and how much is the imagination of Hollywood scriptwriters? Andrea Perron, one of the family members who lived the horror on which The Conjuring was based on was quoted saying, “There are liberties taken and a few discrepancies but overall, it is what it claims to be — based on a true story, believe it or not.”
The Warrens’ most famous case, and also most criticized, is the Amityville Horror. One of the statements that seem to raise the most questions for me was from horror author Ray Garton. Mr. Garton wrote an account of the hauntings of the Snedeker family and was quoted as saying, “The family involved, which was going through some serious problems like alcoholism and drug addiction, could not keep their story straight, and I became very frustrated; it's hard writing a non-fiction book when all the people involved are telling you different stories."
Peruse through the comments on the most popular paranormal YouTube videos and you’ll see the reality of “based on a true story” tales is a much-heated debate on both ends. For every believer, there is a skeptic chomping at the bit to debunk any evidence brought to light. One thing is for sure, and what Hollywood is banking on, whether you believe or not… you’ll still buy a ticket and watch.
What do you think? Do you believe these events actually happened? Let me know in the comments below.
Anthony Pernicka is the owner and writer for horror website and app www.iHorror.com