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Scary travel movies inspired by true events PART III | travel + film tips

Scary travel movies inspired by true events

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When we think about scary travel movies, Eli Roth’s incredibly bloody horror movie Hostel is probably the first thing that pops into your head. But there are many more travel movies that are scarier simply because they are based on real stories. These aren’t the kind of stories about people getting slaughtered, these are the kind of stories that freak you out because you know someone lived it and has survived to tell the story. They’re about people surviving terrible accidents or situations. They’re freaked out by mother nature instead of zombies or murderers. Must watch for travelers, because who knows, you might pick up some survival skills! Somehow, after I watched the Shallows recently, I’m SO into this kind of thrillers, so I decided to collect a few recent ones I saw inspired by true events. And yes, I must admit, they do fuel my wanderlust, often they start in the most beautiful places like Mexico, Hawaii or Australia. Enjoy! 

Read part I and part II too

{spoiler warning: the real stories may contain some spoilers of the endings of the films described}

127 hours

127 hours with James Franco. Scary travel movies inspired by true events

In Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, James Franco plays Aron Ralston. 127 hours is the real story of the mountain climber Aron Ralston’s adventure of 127 hours trapped in an isolated canyon in Utah. Aron’s arms are crushed by a fallen boulder, and he spends 5 days trying to free himself. Over five days, Ralston examines his life and the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65-foot wall and hike over eight miles before he is finally rescued.

Throughout the five days and his journey, Ralston recalls family, friends, lovers and the last people he met before his accident, two other hikers. Of the authenticity of 127 Hours, Ralston has said that the film is “so factually accurate it is as close to a documentary as you can get and still be a drama”, and he satirically added that he thought it is “the best film ever made”.


Scary travel movies inspired by true events

Backcountry is loosely based on events that happened back in 2005 in the backcountry of Missinaibi Lake Provincial Park, North of Chapleau, Ontario where Jacqueline Perry and Mark Jordan were attacked by a black bear.

In the film, the duo has different names (Alex and Jenn) and the film is loosely based on the real story. Before the duo started their camping trip, they are well prepared. They have the gear, including water purification but when ‘the self-professed park expert’ Alex, tells the ranger they don’t need a map, you know the story will turn very soon and you realize you’re watching a thriller. But it isn’t until later that the mood changes. They don’t have a map, walk off the beaten path, because Jordan knows the park well. Until… they meet the bear. In the real story about Jacqueline Perry and Mark Jordan, both 30, were attacked at a campsite in the provincial park. Perry was killed, and Jordan was heavily injured. The adventurous film tells a different story, but there is a black bear involved and the film is somehow entertaining.


Gerry movie. Scary travel movies inspired by true events

Gerry might not be Gus van Sant’s most well-known film, it’s definitely one that’s based on true events. Gerry is based on the story of David Coughlin. Coughlin went hiking in 1999 with his best friend since college, Raffi Kodikian, in the desert of southern New Mexico. After the two got lost while hiking, Coughlin was killed by his friend. Why? Coughlin begged him to he told the police later. The two become lost and dehydrated after days of hiking when they realized they weren’t prepared for a desert hike at all. They only brought three pints of water and one pint of Gatorade. One water pint was used to boil hot dogs during their first evening in the canyon. They had a topographical map, but neither knew how to properly read it. The two boys got lost and took extreme measures to survive, including eating cactus fruit, drinking their own urine and licking rocks. The third night, Coughlin began vomiting, according to Kodikian. On August 8, Kodikian wrote in his journal: “I killed & buried (sic) my best friend today. Dave had been in pain all night. At around 5 or 6, he turned to me and begged that I put my knife through his chest. I did, and a second time when he wouldn’t die.”

Kodikian was later found by a park ranger, badly dehydrated but alive.

The film, Gerry, follows two hikers, played by Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, that both go by the name “Gerry”. First, they enjoy themselves with old stories and reciting inside jokes, but slowly they lose their minds when they realize returning to civilization becomes more unlikely.

Scary travel movies inspired by true events

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