The Paranormal Activity Series and Top Things that Haunt Us at Night

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Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, the final entry in the series, is upon us. The legendary franchise has done nothing but scare the bejesus out of us for nearly a decade. With the release of this fifth installment (not counting spin-off The Marked Ones), we’ve decided to go back and take a look at some of the things that keep us awake at night.

From the original, Paranormal Activity, the series has been brilliant at creeping out audiences and putting us in uncomfortable situations. And, although it is a work of fiction, plenty of the scares in the Paranormal Activity films are based on nightmarish concepts that have been scaring people for ages. To celebrate the release of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, we’ve revisited some of the creepier things that have chilled us over the years, some of which have appeared in previous Paranormal Activity films.

Check out the Top Things that Haunt Us at Night.

Bloody Mary
In the Paranormal Activity 3 trailer, we got a very good look at young Katie and Kristi performing the Bloody Mary ritual and the unfortunate events that came after it. But where exactly does the whole legend come from? The intense Bloody Mary conjuring we saw in Paranormal Activity 3 has a long, storied history. The name can actually be traced back to Queen Mary I of England, who was well known for violent religious reform as well as several miscarriages, both facts leading to her unfortunate nickname. When performing the Bloody Mary ritual, participants are attempting to conjure a spirit. They could be friendly, they could be not so friendly. In any instance we’ve ever seen in movies or television, they’ve never been friendly.

Bloody Mary is an act of catoptromancy, or using a mirror for divination. Repeatedly speaking the name “Bloody Mary” while staring into a mirror in a dimly lit room is said to conjure an apparition. If that’s not scary enough, the legend says that the spirit, which may appear as a corpse or a ghost, may scream at the living or try to strangle them or scratch their eyes out. It’s a hefty and chilling price to pay to attempt to see a spirit.

Science has tried to explain why Bloody Mary seems to work, or at least explain the ghostly apparition that can be seen behind the conjurer, with the phenomenon of Troxler’s fading (which is infamous in optical illusions) or self-hypnosis. But honestly, if we’re standing in front of a mirror in a dark room in the middle of the night, muttering Bloody Mary, and something appears over our shoulder, you’re not going to settle our minds with the suggestion that it’s self-hypnosis. Bloody Mary was used brilliantly in Paranormal Activity 3, and it continues to be a legend that haunts us.

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Spiritual Photography
The entire Paranormal Activity series is based on the concept of spiritual photography, and they’ve used some really creative ways to illustrate it. From the beginning in the famous bedroom of Katie and Micah and all the activity that was captured on Micah’s camera to the cool uses of the Xbox Kinect and the GoPro camera, Paranormal Activity has found a way to keep spiritual photography fresh. But in reality, there’s nothing about spiritual photography that needs to be livened up. It can be a haunting process that reveals some chilling images from the world beyond.

There are plenty of examples of ghosts caught on film or in pictures; hell, even the ghost of Abraham Lincoln was seen in one! A truly unexplainable figure captured in a picture is absolutely stunning. It forces us to question the reality we cling to and accept the possibility that there is indeed something much, much bigger going on. As thrilling as it is haunting, spiritual photography is an intense way to show there is something else out there.

Paranormal investigators use a slew of tools when trying to locate and capture proof of ghostly activity. Thermometers and EMF (electro-magnetic field) meters try to detect changes in the environment. Digital recording is often used as well, and some absolutely creepy sounds and voices have been captured. But nothing makes the blood run colder than actual visual images of ghosts or ghostly activity. The Paranormal Activity series has done a fantastic job in knowing just where and when to drop those ghostly interactions into their films. Whether it be as simple as a chair moving or extreme as a possession, each Paranormal Activity has scored big in scaring audiences, and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension promises to continue the trend.

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Possession
As scary as performing the Bloody Mary ritual can be and as skin-crawlingly haunting as actual spiritual photography can be, nothing, and we mean nothing, is more frightening than the thought of possession and dealing with a possessed individual. The entire Paranormal Activity saga is based on demonic possession and the life-long haunting of Katie and Kristi. Perhaps modern society’s extreme fear of possession was stoked by the unforgettable 1977 film The Exorcist because nearly 40 years after that nightmare, the thought of possession still chills us. The Paranormal Activity series took a different approach to possession and used it to craft an intriguing tale.

Real-life exorcisms are well documented. One of the more well-known ones was that of Anneliese Michel, a German woman who underwent a Catholic exorcism and eventually died due to lack of medical attention. The possessed in the Paranormal Activity films behave in a much different manner than what we typically expect from the possessed, lying in a bed and being tortured by the malevolent spirit. In the Paranormal Activity films, the demon has his victims behaving more like a voodoo zombie, walking around and doing the evil bidding of the intruding force.

Regardless of the behavior, one thing is universally true of the possessed: They are extremely unpleasant to deal with and have nothing but bad intentions in mind. From legendary stories to historical accounts to downright scary films and other forms of entertainment, the idea of possession and exorcism is one that continues to excite, intrigue, and chill us; and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension will certainly add another excellent chapter to the legend.

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Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, the final chapter in the story, hits theaters October 23 in 3D. Be there to see how it ends.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9Jy2T0uQ9Y&w=640&h=360]

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