Are you a horror movie buff? If you are, the new Netflix movie, Aftermath, should be the next flick on your must-watch list. Everyone’s raving about it, and you’ve probably heard the rumors that it is based on a true story. What could be better than a horror film based on real-life events?
But is Aftermath based on a true story as portrayed by the film’s title card? Did everything that happens in the movie really take place in real life? A true story inspires Aftermath, but some parts are fictional add-ons.
Read on for the story behind the story in Netflix’s new horror movie.
What Is The Netflix Movie Aftermath About?
Produced by Peter Winther, Aftermath is the story of a young couple, Natalie (Ashley Greene) and Kevin Dadich (Shawn Ashmore), who purchase and move into a new home where they start a new life after a rough patch in their marriage.
But, the blissful life they had anticipated was soon cut short when strange things started to happen in their new home. The couple starts seeing their house listed for sale, receiving magazine subscriptions they had never signed up for, and they are stalked by what seems like an evil presence.
By the film’s end, we discover that the horrifying events are the actions of a debt-ridden former owner who wants the house back and a dangerous killer secretly living in the basement.
The scary storyline about the deranged killer in the basement did not actually happen in real life and is original to the Netflix film. On the other hand, the story of a dissatisfied party trying to frustrate the couple into leaving the house is inspired by the true story of Jerry Rice and Janice Ruhter.
The True Story Behind Aftermath
Here is the true story that inspired the Aftermath film: Janice Ruhter and Jerry Rice were a young married couple with a toddler and a newborn on the way. In 2011, they bought a house in the upscale neighborhood of Carmel Valley in San Diego after outbidding another interested party, Kathy Rowe.
Heartbroken after losing the bid to the young couple, Rowe set out to stalk, torment, and harass Rice and Ruhter for months, instilling untold fear. She ordered pornographic magazine subscriptions worth thousands of dollars, which the couple had never signed up for.
Rowe went as far as canceling the couple’s mail and pulling off ridiculous pranks such as sending Valentine’s Day cards to the neighboring wives and impersonating herself as Rice.
Her worst offense was when she listed Rice and Ruhter’s home for sale and started creating online ads inviting men to come to Ruhter’s address for sexual encounters.
In the ads, Rowe, who pretended to be Ruhter, claimed that she was an adult entertainer, fantasized about being raped and that her husband would join them if they wanted him to.
The real-life couple reported the matter to the police but had to endure a year of torment from the unknown stalker before investigations began. There was even an attempted assault on Natalie in her own home. Finally, the police discovered that Rowe was behind the horrendous scheme and arrested her.
A large chunk of this true crime story inspired part of the Aftermath movie. But, in the film, the person behind the sinister events is portrayed as Robert, the house’s former owner who feels that he undersold the property and now wants it back.
What Parts of Aftermath Are Not Based on Real-Life Events?
Aftermath borrows various plot lines from Rice and Ruhter’s real story, such as online advertisements and subscriptions. But, the producers strived to create an independent film with entire plot lines that are not based on actual events.
In the movie, we see that Natalie and Kevin are looking to heal after a rough patch in their relationship. Natalie is portrayed as having had an affair.
The couple was trying to move on by moving into a new home in a different place. But, this wasn’t the case for Rice and Ruhter’s relationship, except that they were a young couple.
The stalker in Aftermath is different from the real-life events. In the film, a debt-ridden former owner is behind the series of attacks on the young couple. In real life, though, the perpetrator was a jealous, disheartened competitor.
Aftermath adds an interesting spin to the true events by focusing on the house’s mysterious history. After Robert is discovered and arrested, Natalie and Kevin hope they can return to living their new life and focusing on their family. But, their horror doesn’t end; in a twist of events, we see that their house was once the scene of a murder-suicide.
It turns out that a man named Otto (Shawn Ashmore) has lived in the house’s basement since Kevin and Natalie moved in.
He is the kidnapper and murderer of Natalie’s sister, Dani. Toward the end of the film, it is revealed that Dani formerly lived in this house and she was having an affair with Otto. Dani had made a secret entrance to carry on their affair without her husband’s knowledge.
When Dani decided to end the affair, her lover killed her and her husband, making it look like a murder-suicide.
Are Janice and Jerry Rice Still Together?
As of 2015, Ruhter and Rice were still married and living in their San Diego home. But, the couple reported that they were still scared and traumatized after everything that happened, albeit relieved that Rowe was finally arrested. They stated that they’ve had to add some security reinforcements to keep their home safe.
Fortunately, none of the gruesome stuff we see on Aftermath, such as the murders, actually took place in Ruhter and Rice’s life.
As for Kathy Rowe, she was arrested and charged in 2015. Rowe, who pleaded guilty to stalking, was sentenced to a year of home electronic surveillance and five years probation.
Her lawyer argues that Rowe’s gross behavior resulted from exhaustion and depression after years of caring for a sick husband and disabled daughter. She did apologize and insisted that she didn’t mean to harm the Rice family.