A true crime drama based on horrifying real-life events is set to air in the UK this month and has been branded by some as the ‘most terrifying film of the year’.
The Girl in the Box, aired by Paramount+, tells the story of Colleen Stan, 64, who was kidnapped in 1977 before enduring a horrifying seven-year ordeal during which she was tortured, raped and forced to live up to 23 years spend -hours a day in a box by their captors.
The series synopsis states: “In the spring of 1977, 22-year-old Colleen Stan was hitchhiking in California when she was picked up by a young couple, Cameron and Janice Hooker.
“Kidnapped with a knife, Colleen will spend the next seven years locked in a coffin-sized box under the hookers’ bed for up to 23 hours a day.
“When not incarcerated, she works as a slave and childminder for hookers while being sucked into a bizarre and complex world of obsession and fantasy.”
Colleen Stan, pictured before she was kidnapped by Cameron and Janice Hooker in 1977, was hitchhiking to a friend’s party when she was picked up by the couple
Girl in the Box airs September 19 on Paramount+ and stars Addison Timlin, Zane Holtz and Zelda Williams
Cameron Hooker put a wooden box over Colleen’s head after hitchhiking to pick her up before taking her to his home in Red Bluff, California, about 30 miles away in May 1977
The film, which stars Addison Timlin, Zane Holtz and Zelda Williams, is based on Colleen’s seven-year ordeal after which she became known as ‘the girl in the box’ when it was revealed she was forced to spend so much time trapped in a box.
In May 1977, 20-year-old Colleen hitchhiked from her home in Eugene, Oregon to attend her friend’s birthday party.
After letting two cars pass before accepting a ride, she got into the vehicle of 23-year-old sawmill worker Cameron Hooker and his wife Janice.
With the couple being accompanied by their baby, she assumed it would be a safe option but tragically proved wrong.
After Hooker got in the car, he stopped at a gas station to use the restroom. Colleen has since said she had a strong impulse to leave the couple at that point.
She has said, “A voice told me to run and jump out a window and never look back.”
However, she ignored the voice and returned to the vehicle. About half an hour later, Hooker turned onto a secluded dirt road. He put a knife to Colleen’s throat, bound and gagged her, and put a wooden box over her head.
This device, which Hooker dubbed a “headbox,” was designed to block light or sound from getting through.
After driving the 30 miles to the Red Bluff, California home he shared with Janice and their baby, Hooker forced Colleen into his basement before stripping her and hanging her naked by the wrists.
During the seven years that Hooker held Colleen captive, he raped and tortured her, often keeping her in a coffin-like box (pictured) under his marriage bed 23 hours a day
Colleen was also forced to endure Hooker’s homemade torture devices (pictured: Red Bluff Police Department Lt. Jerry Brown displays head restraint devices found at Hooker’s home in 1984 after Colleen escaped).
For the next seven years, he continued to abuse the young woman, who was starved, flogged, and burned by Hooker.
Colleen was forced to sign a “slave contract” that said she had to do anything Hooker wanted, from sex to more mundane things like chores or looking after his children.
His abuse went further: he tied her wrists to the ceiling or left her for days with a 20-pound, hinged wooden box around his head blocking the outside world.
He built torture devices for Stan, including a stretcher that permanently damaged her back and one of her shoulders.
Hooker also forced her into a wooden box kept under his marital bed and held her there for 23 hours at a time.
According to Colleen, it was during these times that she managed to focus on happy memories.
After Hooker’s wife helped Janice Colleen escape in 1984, she testified against her husband, who was sentenced to 104 years in prison for kidnapping, torture and rape
She told People in 2016, “I’ve learned that I can go anywhere in my mind.
“You just step away from the real situation and go somewhere else. You go somewhere comfortable, around people you love. Whatever makes you happy.’
Over time, Colleen was able to earn more freedom and was sometimes allowed to go jogging, gardening and more take care of the whore children alone in the mobile home.
During this time she did not attempt to escape as Hooker had psychologically manipulated her into convincing her that a greater power he called The Company was watching her at all times and that they would ensure that any attempted escape would have dire consequences would .
The psychological control was so strong that in 1981 Hooker allowed her to visit her family alone and returned to him after the trip.
It wasn’t until 1984 that Colleen managed to escape with some help from Hooker’s wife Janice.
Hooker told his wife he wanted to make Colleen his second wife and introduce more female slaves.
This led to Janice telling Colleen that Hooker was not part of The Company and helping her leave.
After she walked to a bus stop and called Hooker to let him know she was leaving, he reportedly broke down in tears.
Although Colleen refused to report him to the police, saying she wanted to give him a chance to mend, he was arrested after Janice went to the authorities and agreed to testify in exchange for immunity.
Hooker, who is now 68, was sentenced to 104 years in prison in 1985 for kidnapping, torturing and raping Colleen.
After Hooker was denied parole in 2015, Colleen (pictured) said she was “pleased with the results” at the time.
Superior Court Justice Clarence B. Knight called Hooker “the most dangerous.” psychopath I’ve ever met,” the Los Angeles Times reported after his conviction.
Hooker, who is being held at Corcoran, California state penitentiary, was denied parole in 2015 and told he would not get another hearing for at least 15 years.
Meanwhile, after returning home, Colleen went to school to get an accounting degree, got married and had a daughter. She also joined an organization that helps abused women.
Her story has been documented numerous times, in dramas, books and documentaries.
In addition to airing The Girl in the Box film, Paramount+ will also air a two-part documentary about Colleen, covering her ordeal over the seven years she was held captive and her experience testifying at Hooker’s trial.
Girl In The Box and Girl In The Box: The True Story both air September 19 on Paramount+.