Throughout the history of cinema, horror films have been a major source of nightmares for moviegoers everywhere. Not only have they made us check our doors are locked for fear of a masked killer storming in during the middle of the night alongside making us all too aware of the supernatural, horror films have also been at the centre of countless moral panics and scandals – the Video Nasties of the 80s being a notable example.
Thankfully, though, we can all rest assured in the knowledge that these onscreen terrors are completely fictional – right?
As with the case of many artistic creations, inspiration for a lot of our favourite horror films is rooted firmly in reality. Though such films claim to be “based on true events”, we know that a lot of the details depicted in them have been changed and romanticised to make the final product more dramatic. However, there are some films out there that proved to be a little too convincing for their own good.
Whether it was uncomfortably realistic gore, believably grounded plots, or some seriously clever marketing ploys, here are a handful of horror films that felt all too real.
10. The Exorcist
Not only was it the first and one of the only horror films to achieve Oscar glory, The Exorcist is frequently hailed as one of the scariest films ever made. We all know that the film about a young girl (Linda Blair) being possessed by a demon was adapted from the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty, but what you might not have been aware of is that the novel was partially inspired by the real-life account of the exorcism of a young boy known as Roland Doe (sometimes referred to as Robbie Mannheim).
Occurring in Maryland in 1949, the story goes that the young boy began experimenting with a Ouija board with his aunt. After his aunt’s death, however, the family noticed supernatural happenings emanating from the child such as scratching being heard under the floorboards and scratches being found under his mattress. It’s even claimed that words would appear scratched into the child’s skin before priests were called in to perform an exorcism.
Whether or not you believe Roland was actually possessed by a demon, there are plenty of other paranormal production issues surrounding this film that further add to The Exorcist’s real-life terrors.