The Daily Gamecock

Column: Horror movies based on true stories are superior

<p>Father Merrin, played by Max von Sydow, seeks the inner demon in Regan (Linda Blair) in the 1973 film “The Exorcist.”</p>
Father Merrin, played by Max von Sydow, seeks the inner demon in Regan (Linda Blair) in the 1973 film “The Exorcist.”

Horror movies based on true events, such as "The Conjuring" franchise, are overall better and scarier than completely fictitious movies.

Picture this: You're sitting in the movie theater at 3 a.m. or by yourself in your pitch-black room after watching a scary horror movie such as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," when you find out the film is based on a true story. Isn't that scarier?

The plot didn't only come from someone's imagination. It can and has happened to ordinary people just like you. Ed Gein, who is the inspiration for the killer in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," was a real person and actually wore human skin — knowing that sends a shiver down my spine.

Many people watch horror movies to get the thrill of being in danger in a controlled environment. When watching horror movies or shows, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. It produces a lot of adrenaline that will make you feel excited, euphoric or that you're unstoppable after watching the movie and witnessing the conquering of the villain. This feeling is exciting after watching a movie that could have never happened in real life. However, knowing the scenario is real and had actually happened intensifies that experience further.

Horror movies such as the three "The Conjuring" or the "Annabelle" movies are based on a true incident. Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are featured in "The Conjuring" films and the third installment of the Annabelle series, are based on real people. The stories they tell are all true, at least according to the Warrens.

Gareth Rees-White, a Ph.D. student in rhetoric and composition and graduate teaching assistant, has taught a class where he discusses "The Conjuring" films.

"I really believe that the first two 'Conjuring' films are two of the best-directed horror films of the last decade or so," Rees-White said. "I find 'The Conjuring' universe really fascinating because it plays so hardcore into the 'based on the true story thing.'"

The real Annabelle isn't the creepy porcelain doll seen in the movies. Still, it is an equally terrifying, supposedly haunted Raggedy Ann doll, which terrorized nursing students after a deceased little girl named Annabelle took possession of the doll.

The Warrens, now both deceased, have a museum in Monroe, Connecticut, that houses the doll and other things they collected on their many adventures.

My dad is from the town the Warrens lived in. He met them and saw the real Annabelle doll in person when he was a child. I know my personal experience with these movies' stories make for an overall better experience watching them, and simply knowing they existed at some time in our world makes the movie that much more spine-tingling.

Horror movies that are based on true stories often make more in the box office. The first "The Conjuring" movie with a $20 million budget made $319.5 million at the box office. This is around $300 million in revenue. But another popular horror movie that isn't based on a true story, "The Invisible Man," had a $7 million budget but only made just over $143 million in the box office.

This trend is also relevant in thriller films. The true-crime case of Laci and Scott Peterson inspired the book "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn, which was made into a successful movie of the same title that made $369 million in the box office. Meanwhile another psychological thriller book-turned-movie, "The Girl On The Train" by Paula Hawkins, which is not based on a true story but has a similar story to "Gone Girl," only made $173 million.

Horror movies, in general, are one of the most profitable genres of film. There is always something new filmmakers can do and so many different fears to play with. There are also tons of terrifying things in the world that have happened or have a genuine possibility of happening to write about. Films that have some factual information make for an overall scarier experience in watching the movie and are fascinating to research.