A true crime drama based on a gruesome, real-life event airs in the UK this month in what some have dubbed ‘the scariest film of the year’.
The Girl in the Box, which will air on Paramount+, tells the story of Colleen Stein, 64, who was kidnapped in 1977 and then endured a horrific seven-year ordeal where she was tortured, raped and forced to pass up to 23 hours a day in a box by his captors.
According to the show’s synopsis: “In the spring of 1977, 22-year-old Colleen Stein was hitchhiking to California when she agreed to be picked up by a young couple, Cameron and Janice Hooker.
“Colleen, who was kidnapped at knifepoint, will spend up to 23 hours a day for the next seven years in a coffin-sized box under a prostitute’s bed.
“When she was not incarcerated, she worked as a slave and nanny to a prostitute as she was drawn into a bizarre and complex world of obsessions and fantasies.”
Colleen Stan before she was kidnapped by Cameron and Janice Hooker in 1977 while hitchhiking to a friend’s party when she was picked up by the Walk couple
The Girl in the Box premieres September 19 on Paramount+, starring Addison Timlin, Zane Holtz and Zelda Williams
Cameron Hooker places a wooden crate over Colleen’s head as she hitches a ride in May 1977 and takes her to her home in Red Bluff, California, about 30 miles away.
Starring Addison Timlin, Zane Holtz and Zelda Williams, the film is based on Colleen’s seven-year ordeal, after she is called “The Girl in the Box” was revealed that she was forced to spend so much time in captivity in a box.
In May 1977, 20-year-old Colleen hitchhiked from her home in Eugene, Oregon to her friend’s birthday party.
After passing two cars before being picked up, she got into the vehicle of Cameron Hook, a 23-year-old sawmill worker, and his wife Janice.
With the couple with their baby, she thought they were a safe bet, but unfortunately turned out to be wrong.
After getting in the car, Hooker stopped at the gas station to use the restroom. Colleen has since said she had a strong urge to leave the couple at this point.
“A voice told me to run, jump out the window and never look back,” she said.
However, she ignored the voice and returned to the car. About half an hour later, Hooker was on a lonely dirt road. He put a knife to Colleen’s throat, tied her up and gagged her mouth, and placed a wooden box over her head.
Dubbed the “front box” by Hooker, the device is designed to block any light or sound from passing through.
After driving 30 miles to the home they share with Janice and their children in Red Bluff, California, Hooker forced Colleen into her basement, stripped her naked, and hung her naked by the wrist.
During the seven years Colleen was held captive by Hooker, he raped and tortured her, often locking her in a coffin-shaped box (pictured) under his marital bed for 23 hours a day
Colleen was also forced to endure Hooker’s homemade torture device (Pictured: Redcliffe Police Lt. Jerry Brown shows the headrest found at Hooker’s home in 1984 after Colleen escaped)
For the next seven years, he would continue to abuse the starving, whipped, and burned young Hooker woman to death.
Colleen was forced to sign a “slave contract” which stipulated that she had to do whatever Hooker wanted, from sex to more mundane things like housework or looking after her children.
His abuse went further: He tied her wrists to the ceiling or left her on her head for days in a hinged 20-pound wooden box to block out the outside world.
He built torture devices for Stan, including a stretcher that permanently damaged his back and a shoulder.
Hooker would also force her into a wooden box stored under her marital bed, where she would spend 23 hours straight.
According to Colleen, during this time she was able to focus on happy memories.
After Hooker’s wife, Janice, helped Colleen escape in 1984, she testified against her husband, who was sentenced to 104 years for kidnapping, torture and rape.
She told PEOPLE in 2016: ‘I know I can go anywhere in my head.
“You just get out of the real situation that’s going on and then you go somewhere else. You go somewhere nice, next to someone you love. whatever makes you happy.
Over time, Colleen gained freedom, sometimes jogging, working in the garden, Hooker childcare alone in a mobile home.
She did not try to run away during this time as Hooker had psychologically manipulated her into believing that the greater force he named The Company was watching her at all times and that they would make sure anyone left the attempts could lead to serious consequences.
The mind control was so severe that when Hooker allowed her to visit her family alone in 1981, she returned to him after the trip.
Until 1984, with the help of Hooker’s wife, Janice, Colleen finally manages to escape.
Hooker told his wife he wanted Colleen to be his second wife and bring more slave girls.
This leads to Janice telling Colleen that Hooker is not part of the company and helping her leave.
He is said to have been in tears after she drove to a bus stop and called Hooker to tell him she was leaving.
While Colleen refused to report the matter to the police, saying she wanted to give him a chance to rehabilitate, he was arrested after Janice surrendered to authorities and agreed to testify in exchange for the immunity.
Hooker, 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 outcome’ at the time
Superior Court Judge Clarence B. Knight calls Hooker ‘the most dangerous man’ Mental illness I’ve met him before,” the Los Angeles Times reported after his sentencing.
Hooker, who is being held at California State Prison Corcoran, was denied parole in 2015 and told there would be no further hearings for at least 15 years.
Meanwhile, after returning home, Colleen went to school for a degree in accounting, got married and had a daughter. She also joined an organization that helps women victims of violence.
Her story has been documented many times in plays, books and documentaries.
In addition to showing the film The Girl in the Box, Paramount+ will air a two-part documentary about Colleen about her ordeal during her seven years in captivity and her appearance during the Hooker trial experiment.
“The Girl in the Box” and “The Girl in the Box: A True Story” both premiere on Paramount+ on September 19.