7 scariest exorcism movies based on true stories

RUAIRI O’CONNOR as Arne Johnson in New Line Cinema’s horror film “THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
RUAIRI O’CONNOR as Arne Johnson in New Line Cinema’s horror film “THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures /

With the new supernatural horror film The Exorcism now in theaters, tons of people are buying tickets to see it. It stars Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe as Anthony Miller, a troubled actor who begins spiraling out of control on the set of his latest horror film. I'm sure that once you finish watching this movie, you'll probably want to check out more exorcism films.

Many of these types of movies are based on true stories. However, this is not the case for The Exorcism. It's not based on true events at all. It's all made-up material from a script co-written by M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller. That's not to say that cursed sets aren't real, though.

But that's enough of the chitter-chatter. If you're looking to be spooked, you should definitely check out our list below of some of the scariest exorcism movies inspired by true stories.

The Exorcist (1973)

Inspired by: The real-life 1949 case of Roland Doe (a pseudonym). A young boy who underwent multiple exorcisms after exhibiting disturbing behavior following the death of his aunt.

Considered by many to be one of the scariest movies of all time,The Exorcist centers around a young girl who becomes possessed by a malevolent entity. In an attempt to rescue her, the girl's desperate mother seeks help from two Catholic priests who then perform an exorcism on her.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Inspired by: The real-life case of Anneliese Michel, a young German woman who underwent 67 Catholic exorcisms in 1975. After her parents came to believe that she was possessed by demons, they reached out to two priests, who were then granted permission to perform a series of exorcisms on her.

The supernatural horror film tells the story of Anneliese Michel but fictionalizes the events and changes the names and settings. After a troubled 19 year old college student named Emily Rose dies after having gone through an exorcism prior to her death, the priest who performed the exorcism is charged with negligent homicide. An ambitious, atheist lawyer then represents him. The film uses a series of flashbacks to show Emily’s life before her possession and the horrifying events that lead up to her exorcism.

The Conjuring (2013)

Inspired by: The real-life paranormal investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren. More specifically, the haunting of the Perron family who lived in a farmhouse in Rhode Island in the 1970s.

In The Conjuring, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as the renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, who work together to help a family terrorized by a powerful and malevolent spirit in their newly occupied farmhouse.

The Pope's Exorcist (2023)

Inspired by: The movie is mostly a fictional story, but it is inspired by the memoirs of Father Gabriele Amorth, a well-known, real-life Italian Catholic priest who claimed to have conducted over 50,000 exorcisms.

Russell Crowe stars in the leading role of Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist. While investigating the possession of a young boy in Spain, Father Gabriele Amorth uncovers a centuries-old conspiracy that the Vatican has tried its hardest to keep hidden.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Inspired by: The real-life trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson aka the "Devil Made Me Do It" case, a murder trial that took place in 1981 in Brookfield, Connecticut. After stabbing his landlord to death, Arne claimed demonic possession as a defense. The movie is also inspired by real-life accounts from people involved in the case, including demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, Johnson, and the Glatzel family.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It sees paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren investigate the murder case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson and try to prove his innocence.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

Inspired by: The alleged paranormal experiences of the Lutz family, who begin reporting terrifying supernatural events and demonic activity shortly after moving into their Amityville, New York home. This same home is where mass murderer Ronald DeFeo Jr. killed six members of his family in 1974. The Lutz family reports led to the involvement of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

After newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz and their three kids move into their new home in Amityville, New York, they soon begin experiencing disturbing and paranormal events. This leads them to call on a local priest to exorcise the evil spirits. But the paranormal activity intensifies to the point where they're forced to flee the home.

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

Inspired by: The alleged true events surrounding the Snedeker family's experiences in their Southington, Connecticut home in the 1980s. Their home had previously been a funeral parlor, and they claimed to have had encounters with paranormal phenomena while living there.

Here's the movie's plot via IMDb:

"Charts one family's encounter with the dark forces of the supernatural. When the Campbell family moves to Connecticut, they soon learn that their charming Victorian home has a disturbing history: not only was the house a transformed funeral parlor where inconceivable acts occurred, but the owner's clairvoyant son Jonah served as a demonic messenger, providing a gateway for spiritual entities to crossover. Now terror awaits when Jonah, the boy who communicated with the dead, returns to unleash horror on the innocent and unsuspecting family."

What are some of your favorite exorcism movies?

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