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"Based on a True Story"...Really?

Updated on October 21, 2011

"The Haunting in Connecticut" has been touted as the true story of the Snedeker family, who rented a house in Southington, Connecticut in 1986. According to the tale they had moved there because one son had cancer and he needed to be close to the hospital for treatments.

Here’s the rest of the plot: The family has fallen on hard times, so when they find a nice house large enough for their family to rent within their meager budget they snap up the offer. While moving in, a creepy discovery is made: The place used to be a mortuary and funeral home. The basement which became a bedroom for the family’s two boys was complete with embalming equipment.

Not long afterwards the eldest son began seeing ghosts and visions…then eventually they were all experiencing them. The entity or entities began turning water red, giving off the smell of decaying flesh, touching and groping the house inhabitants and all the other things ghosts do to amuse themselves. At least, that’s what the Snedeker’s claim took place. The advertisements for the film even state the story is “based on true events.”

The movie has noted ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren as well as a few demonologists investigating the case and claiming the home to be crawling with demons. But is that what the Warren’s really said? Lorraine Warren made these remarks about the film. "I was also told about scratching on the walls, blood and séances. That isn't the type of things occurring within the house at all. The movie is very, very loosely based on the actual investigation.”

Carmen Snedeker, however, stands by her story of bizarre experiences, like disappearing items, seeing odd visitors in the house and hearing strange voices and other sounds. But, on the other hand, the Skeptical Inquirer magazine reported the Snedeker's landlady found the whole story ridiculous. According to her nothing unusual had never happened in the house. In fact, the Snedeker’s lived in the house for more than two years before leaving.

The inspiration for the real story was discovered during an interview with author Ray Garton by Horror Bound magazine. The interview concerned his 1992 book called "In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting."

Garton had been hired by the Warren’s to write the true story of the Snedeker house. As he gathered information from family members he soon realized their stories didn’t quite agree with each other. Garton took the predicament to Ed Warren.

And according to Garton his reply was “You've got some of the story. Just use what works and make the rest up… Just make it up and make it scary.” Garton did as he was told: "I used what I could, made up the rest, and tried to make it as scary as I could." This seems a little strange in light of Lorraine’s previous comments wouldn’t you say?

So, if in the end it seems there is little or no proof anything happened at the house at all, why claim the movie is “Based on a true story?” Fiction disguised as a true story is nothing new in Hollywood. Either way the Snedeker's stood to profit. After all, wasn’t The Amityville Horror proven to be fiction? It’s interesting to note the Warren’s also worked on The Amityville Horror. Then there wasThe Exorcist and James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. Just a few more “Based on a true story” examples.


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    • Karen N profile image

      Karen N 6 years ago from United States

      Interesting story, though I would imagine that the family was going through money problems and found a quick way to make a buck.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Yep, smells like Amityville. Good investigative write John. The only thing about Amityville is that photo of the boy with weird shining eyes that the newspaper people got in the house. So far as known they still say its genuine. Always beware of house hauntings made into movies though!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I'm with sheila b. There are limits to *real* hauntings and it shouldn't be hard to figure out when the line has been crossed from "based on" to "mostly fiction to make more money". ;D

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 6 years ago

      When ghost stories go so far with crazy and violent incidents, I know they're not true. I see someone's imagination at work. And what an imagination it is.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      You see those dollar signs floating around too? I thought it was just me and I was hallucinating. Anyway, everybody loves a good ghost story.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      I agree with you, J. Why say it's based on something true when it's scary fiction? People who like scary stories would just rather know if it's supposed to be true, or not...that it's fiction wouldn't stop them (us!) from buying the book or seeing the movie.

      I do see dollar signs in this someplace, still, it seems like a pointless lie, to me.