Is ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’ based on a true story?

Is The Strangers: Chapter 1 based on a true story?

Remakes and reboots of classic horror franchises are all the rage these days. In recent months, we have had fresh reimaginings of The Exorcist, The Omen, and The Evil Dead, and now The Strangers has been given a remake courtesy of director Renny Harlin. 

The Strangers is a 2008 film directed by Bryan Bertino. It stars Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler as two people whose stay at an isolated vacation home is interrupted by three masked intruders. The film is taut and scary and well worth a watch, especially if you’re a fan of Funny Games, High Tension, and other such home invasion movies.

A belated sequel, The Strangers: Prey at Night, followed in 2018. This one tells the story of a family of four who are stalked by masked psychopaths at a secluded mobile home park. The movie isn’t bad but it’s arguably not as good as the scarier original.

The Strangers: Chapter 1 follows a similar plotline to the 2008 film. It stars Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez as a young couple who are forced to spend the night in a remote cabin when their car breaks down. During the night, they are terrorized by three masked strangers who make their lives a living hell.

Some horror movies are works of fiction. But what about The Strangers: Chapter 1? Is it based on a true story? You’ll have an extra incentive to make sure your doors are locked when we tell you the answer. 

Is The Strangers: Chapter 1 based on a true story?

The Strangers: Chapter 1 isn’t based on real-life events. By which we mean, the characters in the film aren’t based on real people. The same applies to the 2008 original. 

But the 2008 movie, of which Harlin’s movie is a remake, was inspired by real-life tales of terror. For starters, there was an event from director Bryan Bertino’s past that inspired him to make The Strangers. 

Speaking to Den of Geek in 2023, he said: 

“I lived in a house that was similar to the one in the film. Very remote, in between towns, and surrounded by fields. We were the latchkey generation of parents being out and kids left alone.

One night when I was eight, my 11-year-old sister and I heard a knock on the door. She answered, and these people asked if our parents were home. She lied and said, ‘Oh, my dad’s in the shower.’ We later discovered that they were knocking on doors in the neighborhood and whoever didn’t answer, they would break in. That stuck with me, the randomness of it.”

The next time a stranger knocks at your door, you might think twice before opening it after hearing Bertino’s story and seeing his film. Who knows what the motive of the person at your door might be? They might be a cold caller trying to sell you insurance. But then again, they could be a crazed psychopath that has nothing but murder on their warped and troubled mind!

It gives us the shudders just thinking about it!

Bertino’s childhood memory wasn’t his only inspiration for The Strangers. He was also inspired by the Manson Family murders that took place in August 1969. As you might recall, Charles Manson and several of his cult members went on a murder spree around LA, brutally killing several people, including film actress Sharon Tate who was pregnant at the time. 

This was another senseless and random crime that nobody could have predicted, not least Tate and her friends who didn’t expect the arrival of Manson and his lunatic ‘family.’ 

The plotline of The Strangers (and the 2024 remake) is also similar to another real-life event that occurred on the night of April 11, 1981. While this wasn’t the basis for either film, it has been compared to Bertino’s film because of its resemblance to the story he told. 

This event became known as The Keddie Murders because the murders took place at a cabin in the Keddie Resort in California. Four people were killed that night and to this day, nobody knows who did it. There’s the theory that it was another random attack, just like the assault featured in The Strangers and its remake. 

So, while The Strangers: Chapter 1 isn’t based on factual events, it is inspired by real happenings. If ever you needed a reason to choose a hotel over a cabin in the woods for your vacation stay, let this movie and the 2008 original be it!


Read More: The Strangers (2008) Story Recap

Are you looking forward to seeing The Strangers: Chapter 1? Will you be double-checking the locks on your door tonight? Let us know in the comments below.

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