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The Disturbing Real-Life Inspiration For The Strangers

The 2008 horror film "The Strangers" is a chilling story about a completely plausible scenario. A couple — Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) — are alone together on a peaceful vacation in a rented home. Suddenly, three masked strangers break in and proceed to spend the night terrorizing them. When Kristen asks them why they're doing this, the answer given by one of the intruders — called Dollface in the credits — is frightening, simple, and totally sociopathic: "Because you were home."

Fans of this sleeper horror hit — which grossed $82.4 million on a $9 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo and spawned a successful sequel, "The Strangers: Prey at Night" — might be even more frightened to learn that the movie was based on a real-life series of eerie incidents that took place in the hometown of director Bryan Bertino. Want to learn more about the horrors which inspired his screenplay for "The Strangers"? Keep reading to find out.

Bryan Bertino experienced the terror that inspired The Strangers

According to an extra featurette on the film's DVD release called "Defining Moments: Writing and Directing The Strangers," the screenplay was inspired by a real-life incident that Bryan Bertino had experienced as a child. "As a kid, I lived in a house on a street in the middle of nowhere. One night, while our parents were out, somebody knocked on the front door and my little sister answered it. At the door were some people asking for somebody who didn't live there. We later found out that these people were knocking on doors in the area and, if no one was home, breaking into the houses," the director explained in production notes archived from the website Hollywood Jesus. According to a 2008 interview with the now-defunct horror website Shock Til You Drop, he also drew inspiration from the Manson Family murders, having been influenced by the book "Helter Skelter" as a child.

Fans were so devoted to figuring out the case that inspired "The Strangers" that they created a map featuring every single home located at an 1801 Clark Road — the address given for the cabin in the film — in America, and debated whether or not that could be the location of the supposed true-life crimes which took place there. But according to Bertino, "With 1801 Clark Road, people can look at that and say, 'Where is that address?' But the reality of it is, that's the address I grew up in. I just picked that address because I wanted to ground the film in as much reality as possible," he told Shock 'Til You Drop. Talk about being dedicated to your craft!