Are The Bridge Curse Movies Based on True Stories?

Lester Hsi’s 2020 film, ‘The Bridge Curse’ and its sequel, ‘The Bridge Curse: Ritual’ make up a Taiwanese horror movie franchise that features two distinct stories with supernatural plots at their center. The first film follows the story of a haunted bridge on a university campus that the students utilize as an initiation test. Consequently, after a new student gets caught up in the same, he and his friends find themselves haunted by the dreadful ghostly woman of the bridge. Meanwhile, the second film charts a mostly unrelated narrative about a group of college students who use local horror rituals to create a VR video game that ends up unleashing real horrors upon them.

Both films depict local urban legends as the premise for their stories, pitching different characters in predictably haunted situations that unfold in unexpected ways. However, given the familiarity of these locally-known horror stories, viewers must be curious to know if the films’ narratives have any basis in real life.

The Bridge Curse: Taichung’s Tunghai University’s Campus Legend

Due to the supernatural elements within the film, ‘The Bridge Curse’ remains an inherently fictional tale. Yet, the same supernatural element lends a real-life connection to the narrative. The film revolves around a University’s bridge, rumored to be the haunting spot of a vengeful female ghost and a paranormal fourteenth step in a staircase made up of thirteen steps.

The ghostly haunting is treated as general knowledge within the campus, with many students using it as an initiation method to goad newer students into traversing into dangerous waters. Even though the exact storyline as it unfolded on-screen never occurred in reality, a similar urban legend exists in real life. At Taichung’s Tunghai University, rumors persist of a female ghost haunting a bridge on campus.

According to the legend, the spirit belongs to a woman who materializes upon the extra step at night and asks passersby for the time. If one turns around before reaching the staircase’s top, the spirit is said to make a victim out of them. With knowledge of the same superstition, a young Tunghai student, Li Le, decided to embark on a misadventure through the bridge while livestreaming the entire thing.

However, to Li Le’s surprise, the audience on his live feed warned him about a woman’s silhouette hanging from a tree behind him. As a result, Li Le fled from the scene, deleting the video in the end. Even though the reality of the student’s experience remains up for debate, his viral story, which added to the existing urban legend, sparked interest, leading to the creation of ‘The Bridge Curse.’

Even so, the film changed several details within Li Le’s story to create a more thrilling storyline that would captivate the audience throughout the film’s duration. Ultimately, although fictional, the film harvests significant inspiration from a real-life horror fable.

The Bridge Curse: Ritual and The Elevator Game

Similar to its predecessor, ‘The Bridge Curse: Ritual’ also mines its inspiration from an urban legend revolving around supernatural and dangerous spirits. In theme with the franchise, the film finds its setting in a university and revolves around a group of college kids. However, the distinguishing factor remains the film’s focus on a horror video game, whose rituals end up creating real-world implications.

The university, with a backstory of a vengeful architect and a malicious Bagua, doesn’t seem to have any real-life connections. Instead, the story’s inciting ritual inside an elevator lends the film its roots in reality. Due to the nature of urban legends, the origins of the ritual, known as “The Elevator Game,” remain unknown. Nevertheless, the common belief remains that the game was discovered in Korea and Japan sometime in the early 2010s.

The game includes riding the elevator in a specific sequence, which is said to lead to potentially deathly supernatural encounters. While the game remains another disprovable urban legend, the conversation around it often includes the inexplicable real-life death of Elisa Lam. The woman went missing while staying at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, where, after days of investigation, an employee found her dead body in the building’s tank.

However, even more peculiarly, security camera footage exists of the woman behaving erratically within the elevator, with paranoia lacing the four-minute video. For the same reason, rumors and speculations spread that the woman was playing the Elevator Game before meeting her demise. Even though the case closed with conclusions about accidental drowning and bipolar disorder, Lam’s momentary association with the game went viral.

In that regard, ‘The Bridge Curse: Ritual’ seems to harvest some inspiration from the same, maintaining the franchise’s practice of interpreting a real-life legend within their films by expanding upon them. Thus, this film’s base premise also has some connections to a real-life superstition. Yet, despite their roots in real-life legends, both films remain works of fiction.

Read More: The Bridge Curse Ritual Ending, Explained