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Paranormal Activity

I am a strong believer in finding and relishing the ultimate horror film. It has nothing to do with scaring oneself shitless. It has nothing to do with watching fascinating CGI monsters invade a big-screen multiplex. I relish the horror film for its ability to give the audience a glimpse into the machinations of the unknown from the mind of the filmmaker.

Every story has to start somewhere. As a writer, I am easily influenced by the oddest of things. The way a tree looks in the moonlight, or the way a person says a particular word, will spark me into a writing frenzy. Whole pages can spring forth from a very simple idea. So when a horror film comes along with all the makings of various little parts, like particles, coming together to form Photons, it's easy to see how a scary story can be an amalgam of many things.

Paranormal Activity is a story about such things. A young couple (one of them haunted), moves into a new home only to discover something 'otherworldly' is following them. The incidents start off small. First there are the occasional phantom bangs and knocks, then doors begin to move. Eventually, an entity of a dark nature---a demon if you will--- begins to take a hold of the female in the relationship.

Honestly, it's not the haunting itself that scared me. What scared me was the way in which it was portrayed. I have been told many times about people being pulled from their beds and dragged across rooms. I am all too aware of the three-fingered prints some find, either outside their homes or indoors, in dusty halls.

But mostly, I am aware that Shadow people are most often the root of such things. The entity in Paranormal Activity, although early on referred to as a 'demonic entity' is a caricature of the dark, unknown things that lurk in the shadows.

I was already thinking seriously on the idea of demonic hauntings as shadow people, and shadow people being anything 'but' paranormal when I happened the latest episode of Unknown Country. Peter Levenda interviewed Jason Offutt (who incidentally kept me awake all night after his interview with Tim Binnall), regarding the true agenda of shadow beings.

Are they simply demons without bodies, roaming the earth in search of human bodies to possess? Could it be that simple? It is often said that when God said let their be light, the dark things that lived in the earth in those days, hid in the shadows and to this day, that is where they remain. It is also said that extraterrestrials of today are nothing more than the angels of old.

Sometimes the things we deem supernatural in nature, upon closer inspection, seem to be mysteries of a different sort. It depends on the individual to look into the darkness long enough to see the Wizard behind the curtain. When it comes to the subject of hauntings, there can never be one simple explanation. It is never a matter of a 'dead' human being coming back to some place memorable, hoping to get a message across to the loved ones left behind.

In fact, call me insensitive or maybe even skeptical, but I stopped believing ghosts were loved ones visiting from beyond the grave, ages ago. It has nothing to do with my Catholic upbringing and hearing the words of the bible (Corinthians, John, Mark) often repeated, that spirits are not the dead, but things that have never lived.

What made me conscious of the fact that something else was at work was the fact that many hauntings are negative in nature. How can you believe your loving, sensitive Uncle Phil who would never hurt a fly, is haunting you with a malevolence wholly uncharacteristic to his nature? Does it make sense to think that someone you once knew and loved would return to just slam your doors, bang on your walls and threaten the safety of your family?

With the advent of spirit mediums on television (John Edwards, anyone?), society-at-large was easily taken in by the concept of dead loved ones as parasites, following you everywhere. As if there is nothing better they could be doing, like moving on. This is what is wrong with the way the Paranormal is portrayed in the media. And this is precisely why I enjoyed Paranormal Activity.

The Paranormal is not some fun little element of the universe, created in a super-secret lab in Hollywood in the hopes of getting more teenagers to get involved in the occult. The Paranormal is not an elite group of monster hunters, perusing the local news for their next big catch. It is not a comic book tale, or a book by Lemony Snicket, or a new Madonna Album. The Paranormal is a part of the universe where dark things reside.

For all we know, ghosts could be inter-dimensional travelers trying to figure out what we're about. Voyeurs in the darkness, watching us all in our natural habitat. The fact is we have no answers to satisfy our unquenchable thirst for the truth. All we know is weird shit happens and we have a name for it and it's always active, but hard to categorize.

Paranormal Activity is more than what happens in a scary movie. For some of us it's a lifetime of questions.

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