What makes a true story a good story? This is five of the supernatural horror movies claiming to be true events. Is it? How much creative liberty can movie makers do before it is merely a work of fiction?

The Rite (2011)

Cover of the book The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio.
Cover of the book The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio.

The actual story: This movie is based on a Book from 2009, The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio. Baglio attended a seminar and saw and met Father Gary Thomas who the book is based on. He became an apprentice to an exorcist in Rome. Initially a sceptic and reluctant, he changed his mind as he saw what he believe is demonic possession. Father Gary Thomas himself was a consultant and said that the exorcisms in the movie was “very accurate.”

The movie: American seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donaghue) travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.

Director: Mikael Håfström

Starring: Colin O’Donoghue, Anthony Hopkins, Ciarán Hinds

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Veronica (2017)

A Spanish TV crew went inside the real house that inspired the movie.
A Spanish TV crew went inside the real house that inspired the movie.

The actual story: This movie is both a tragedy and very mysterious. It’s inspired by the actual Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously. She suffered hallucinations and seizures after playing with an Ouija board in Madrid at her school. They were trying to contact a deceased boyfriend of one of her friends who died six months earlier. After this, things started to become– strange. Allegedly her house became haunted and she died where the cause of death is up to speculation.

The movie: Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.

Director: Paco Plaza

Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer 

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The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

Signage of the Silver Bridge collapse in Point Pleasant. It was blamed on the myth of the Mothman.
Signage of the Silver Bridge collapse in Point Pleasant. It was blamed on the myth of the Mothman.
Photo by Richie Diesterheft in 2010.

The actual story: This is one of the weirder ones. It is based on the book by John Keel from 1975 who in return is based on investigation of the West Virginia folklore, the Mothman. In Point Pleasant in 66-67 people reported to have seen a man-like figure flying in the sky, glowing red eyes, ten-foot wings. In 1967 the Silver Bridge collapsed and 46 people died. The incident sparked the legend even further when they blamed it on the Mothman and reported sightings of the creature to the bridge collapsing.

Read Also: The Legend of the Mothman

The movie: A reporter is drawn to a small West Virginia town to investigate a series of strange events, including psychic visions and the appearance of bizarre entities.

Director: Mark Pellington

Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, David Eigenberg

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The Conjuring Series (2013-)

The Amityville house on 112 Ocean Avenue from 1973. One of the Warren's more famous cases they worked on
The Amityville house on 112 Ocean Avenue from 1973. One of the Warren’s more famous cases they worked on.

The actual story: Already somewhat of paranormal investigator celebrities before the movie came out, James Wan made them world wide famous with his Conjuring movies. Lorraine and Ed Warren worked as a team until they died in 2019 and 2006 respectively. and has been connected to some of the more famous hauntings, like Amityville and Annabelle. Ed is a self-taught and self-professed demonologist, while Lorraine says she is a clairvoyant and light trance medium.

The movie: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.

Director:  James Wan

Starring:  Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston

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Winchester (2018)

Sarah Winchester, taken in 1865 by the Taber Photographic company of San Francisco.
Sarah Winchester, taken in 1865 by the Taber Photographic company of San Francisco.

The actual story: The movie is based on real life Sarah Lockwood Winchester (1839-1922). She was one of the wealthiest women in the world at that time. She spent her fortune and twenty years on building the Winchester mansion in San Jose, California. Legends arose from this, as she was convinced she was cursed, and to build her home was the only way to fight the curse.

The movie: Ensconced in her sprawling San Jose, California mansion, eccentric firearm heiress Sarah Winchester (Dame Helen Mirren) believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle.

Director: Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (as The Spierig Brothers)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, Finn Scicluna-O’Prey 

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