Becoming a Victim

Welcome to Freaky Friday: True Crime Edition. Today, we’re going to talk about home invasion and how easy it would be to become a victim of the unthinkable.

Last year about this time, my doorbell rang. It took me a while to get to the door. I peeped out the window and saw this guy–a stranger–standing in my yard. I opened the door, and he asked me if Raymond was home. I told him Raymond doesn’t live here. He asked, “For real?” and left.

Later, I told my husband what happened, and he said to be careful about answering the door. Some area houses had been robbed by people who simply rang the doorbell and forced their way inside when someone answered. That I could have unthinkingly put myself in such danger chilled me.

I had watched The Strangers as one of my Halloween movies just a few months earlier. The Strangers is about a couple who is terrorized and brutalized by some random people who come to the door asking for someone who doesn’t live there. The film is supposedly based on a true story.

Watch the preview:

Writer/Director of The Strangers, Bryan Bertino, says he was inspired by two things. One is a similar experience he had a young man. He and his sister were home alone in an isolated house in the boonies. Someone came to the door and asked for so-and-so. Mr. Bertino’s sister told them so-and-so didn’t live there, and they went away. Later, the family learned burglars had been roaming the area knocking on doors and asking for a fake person in order to gain entry to homes.

Mr. Bertino was also inspired by Helter Skelter, which is about the Manson murders.

The Manson murders do have some similar elements to the events in The Strangers. Both sets of murders began as home invasions. Though the Manson Family knew the identity of their victims, the victims did not know the Manson Family. The victims didn’t know why this was happening to them. Imagine their horror.

Mr. Bertino’s goal with The Strangers was to focus on the victim, to experience their bewilderment and terror as they were randomly attacked.

Watch an interview of Bryan Bertino talking about The Strangers:

There is a very similar French film titled Ils (which translates to Them). Ils is about a French couple who is tormented in their Bucharest, Romania home and in the surrounding countryside. It turns out their attackers are teenagers.

Many people consider The Strangers a remake of Ils, but some say the script for The Strangers was written two years before Ils came out. Like The Strangers, Ils (Them) claims to be based on true events.

The story claimed most often to be the basis of Ils is that of an Austrian couple vacationing in the Czech Republic who were murdered by three teens. This story, however, is notoriously difficult to connect to any concrete events. Many people believe the film is entirely fictional.

Watch the trailer:

Because of these movies and events like the Manson murders, it is with some horror that I recall the visit from the guy looking for Raymond. I guess the moral to the story is to be careful and not open my door to strangers.


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