‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’: The best real-life demonic possessions
Whether or not you believe in it or not, can we just agree that the concept of demonic possession is terrifying? Watching someone or being that person who loses control of their life, their body, and their soul to forces outside of their control? It’s a terrifying concept. Needless to say, there are many, many horror movies based on real-life possessions and the exorcisms that followed. We were freaked out by The Exorcism of Emily Rose back in 2005. We know.
Well, if you’re curious about getting into the “based on the true story of possession” subgenre of horror, then we have a list of some of the best movies within the umbrella for you to check out.
The Exorcist (1973)
The OG in the genre of possession movies and considered one of the best horror movies of all time, The Exorcist still sends shivers down the spines of moviegoers and those interested in the paranormal alike. The scarier part? It was inspired by a true story. The story is based on a case of exorcism in the 40s of male teen known only as Roland Doe (though some reports call him Roland Manheim).
So if you want even more nightmares to go along with Linda Blair’s timelessly terrifying performance of Regan MacNeil, then go read about the Exorcism of Roland Doe.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Before Scott Derrickson was known for 2016’s Doctor Strange, he was making a big name for himself in horror movies. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is definitely one of the strongest, following a defense attorney (Laura Linney) who defends a priest (Tom Wilkinson) accused of negligent homicide following the death of a girl he was exorcising.
This is based on the famous case of Anneliese Michel, who died during an exorcism and the priests involved were convicted of manslaughter. It’s a pretty disturbing case complete with voice recordings of Michel’s possession. Yes, those are pretty terrifying.
The Rite (2011)
Buzzfeed Unsolved fans may recognize this name. The Rite is based on the training of Father Gary Thomas when he went to become an exorcist in Rome. The film has a series cast of talent behind it with Sir Anthony Hopkins playing Father Lucas Trevant, the senior exorcist. So if you want to get scared by Sir Anthony in a non-serial killer context, then give The Rite a watch.
Also for Once Upon A Time fans, Colin O’Donoghue pre-Captain Hook plays the exorcist-in-training in the film. No eyeliner, unfortunately.
The Possession (2012)
The Possession is inspired by the tale of dybbuk box. It’s a type of wine box, said to house a malicious spirit that will possess the living. For paranormal fans, however, there is only one dybbuk box though. It gained notoriety on eBay back in the day especially with the accompanying story by seller Kevin Mannis. It’s currently displayed in the museum owned by Ghost Adventures Zak Bagans, if you’re curious.
The Possession stars Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) as divorced parents whose daughter becomes possessed after they obtain the dybbuk box. They opened the box, which you should never do. It’s also noted as the dybbuk box is related to Judaism, so it makes it a rare possession movie based on the Jewish faith.
The Conjuring (2013)
James Wan may have spawned a horror empire with The Conjuring, but the first is always the best. Even though many of the stories within the franchise (including Annabelle and The Nun) are based on true stories, we’ve still not been as terrified as we were with the 2013 film.
Based on the case files of the famed medium and demonologist married couple Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga), it follows the real life haunting of the Perron Family who were terrorized in their Rhode Island home in the 70s. It culminated in the possession of the mother Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and the exorcism that had to be performed on her.
There’s also The Conjuring 2, which is based on the case of the Enfield poltergeist, and the upcoming The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, which is the first time demonic possession was used as a defense in the US.