ByVaria Fedko-Blake, writer at
Staff Writer at Moviepilot! [email protected] Twitter: @vfedkoblake
Varia Fedko-Blake

On Friday, May 13th, horror fans will see the theatrical release of The Darkness, a chilling story based on a family ravaged by supernatural forces following a trip to the Grand Canyon. After awakening a malevolent Native American spirit in the vast wilderness, they unwittingly bring it home with them, unravelling a series of events that become the true stuff of nightmares.

An unsettling exploration of ancient folklore, disturbing superstitions and the haunting terrors that they bring, The Darkness will make the tiny hairs on the backs of your arms prick up and force you to sleep with the lights on for many nights thereafter.

So in preparation, familiarize yourselves with three real-life stories of families who have similarly collided with petrifying phenomena that turned their worlds upside down.

'Mother, I'm Afraid'

A happy family — Anneliese is on the left.
A happy family — Anneliese is on the left.

One of the most well-known real-life stories of an individual subjected to a haunting is of course Anneliese Michel. Born in 1952 in Bavaria, West Germany, Anneliese led a normal life until one day in 1968 when she began to shake uncontrollably. Admitted to hospital suffering severe epilepsy, the doctors soon realized that what they were dealing with was something far outside their area of expertise.

Panicked at the thought of demonic possession, the girl's devoutly Catholic parents tried to find a willing exorcist, but failed as the criteria for such a procedure weren't fully met (such as speaking in a language Anneliese was unfamiliar with). Abandoned by the church and her doctors, the teen's condition deteriorated. She began to bite members of her family, sleep on the stone floor, eat spiders and drink her own urine. She would also destroy any religious objects she came into contact with as if possessed by the devil, and commonly tore all her clothes off before furiously urinating all over them.

Anneliese during an exorcism.
Anneliese during an exorcism.

Determining that she must be saved from Lucifer, Judas Iscariot, Emperor Nero, Cain, Hitler and Valentin Fleischmann (a disgraced Frankish priest from the 16th century), an assigned bishop agreed to perform a series of exorcisms on Anneliese, held twice a week over many months. However, the attacks did not stop.

As the purification rituals continued, Anneliese began to deny all food, running a high fever and developing pneumonia. On the last day of the rite of exorcism on June 30, 1976, unable to perform the genuflections herself, Anneliese's parents helped guide her through the ceremony. The last thing she said before she died was, "Beg for absolution," before turning helplessly to her mother and uttering, "Mother, I'm afraid."

Today, 40 audiovisual tapes of recorded material from the unknown haunting remain, including this:

'I Gave Ol' Jack A Big Dose Of That Last Night, Which Fixed Him!'

Now let's turn back the clock to more than a century ago; a dark period in the history of Tennessee between 1817 and 1821, when one family was haunted by the Bell Witch.

In the early 1800s, pioneer John Bell Sr. moved with his family to a homestead in the Red River community, where he acquired land and cleared it for the purpose of farming corn. As the account goes, one day he was inspecting his fields when he came across a strange creature with the body of a dog, but bizarrely the head of a rabbit. He shot it several times and thought nothing more of it.

A sign marking the way to the Bell homestead.
A sign marking the way to the Bell homestead.

In the weeks that followed, strange sounds were heard in the middle of the night outside the family's log house. The Bell children would wake up terrified, adamant that rats were gnawing at their bedposts and complaining of having their bed covers pulled from them by an invisible force. Faint whispers were also heard, as well as the sounds of an old woman quietly singing a hymn. Unfortunately, the Bells' nightmare was only just beginning.

An illustration of the Bell homestead.
An illustration of the Bell homestead.

The youngest daughter Betsy began to have violent encounters with this supernatural menace, which would savagely pull her hair and slap her, leaving bruises and welts all over her fragile body. At one point, the entity even prevented the marriage of Betsy to a young man named Joshua Gardner by terrorizing them wherever they went. At this stage, the disembodied voice was no longer just a whisper — it would sing loudly and even quote scripture, much to the horror of the family and their neighbors.

For decades, the Bells were ravaged by this "witch," until the torment somewhat subsided with the death of John Bell. As it goes, shortly after his death, a small vial of unidentifiable liquid was found in the cupboard — fed to the cat as a precaution, the liquid turned out to be lethal. Immediately speaking up to John Bell's widow, the witch was described as screeching:

"I gave ol' Jack a big dose of that last night, which fixed him!"

Nowadays, the horrific manifestations have subsided, yet those visiting the area have reported similar sounds of people talking and candlelights dancing in the dark cornfields at night. Make of this what you will, but you can't argue with the fact that there was something terrifying lurking at the Bell residence at the beginning of the 19th century.

'There’s Something Saying Leave'

An unknown entity has taken hold of the house.
An unknown entity has taken hold of the house.

Fast forwarding back to the 21st century, let's focus on a more recent haunting — stemming from accounts dating just a few years ago. In 2013, Angela Rhodes was forced to abandon her home (which she had inherited from her parents), located off N. Wayside Dr. in Houston, Texas. She refused to re-enter it, even in broad daylight.

What caused her blood-curdling terror? There were reports of invisible children running up and down the hallway, glowing flames burning in the bathroom and a menacing force repeatedly telling Angela to peer out of the window (she refused to). Following a nightmarish attempt to persevere with the forces, she left the house and agreed to let other family members move in.

Today, these people continue to live in that Houston home — however, they remain more than aware of the many bizarre instances of the supernatural. In particular, they report mysterious voices as well as levitating tableware hurtling across the room. The events are so startling that one of the residents has even spoken to a local news channels, revealing:

“Clearly, if a cup is flying off the middle of a microwave, there’s something saying, ‘Leave.’"

Check out the chilling report:

The Darkness will hit cinemas this Friday the 13th. Here's the trailer:

Do you dare to watch?



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