With the popularity of movies about paranormal activity—including, of course, Paranormal Activity and its sequels—on the rise and Halloween just around the corner, we at MovieMaker thought we’d bring in a professional to let our readers know which of the many ghost movies out there are actually realistic. Enter Barnaby Mortensen, co-director and technology specialist for the Northeast Paranormal Investigations Society (NPIS), a paranormal investigations team that conducts research and scientific investigations with the goal of capturing, evaluating and documenting evidence of the paranormal. For more information about NPIS, visit www.northeastparanormal.org.

Lately, everyone seems to be interested in the paranormal. A major reason behind this is that the paranormal, by its very nature, is unexplained. Everyone would like answers, but for now we have to settle for stories, experiences and theories to help explain things like hauntings, EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and near-death experiences. Hollywood has done a great job of harnessing these experiences and theories and incorporating them into entertainment for the big screen. However, in the interest of providing entertainment, sometimes these Hollywood stories go over the top. Here are some films that, while sometimes exaggerated for the big screen, still incorporate some true-to-life examples of the supernatural paranormal.

The Frighteners (1996)
directed by Peter Jackson

Although this movie is a combination thriller/comedy, it’s also a great example of how someone’s psychic and physical senses can become enhanced after a near-death experience. The movie also depicts how it might feel for someone who has these heightened senses and must try to live among those who do not.

The Sixth Sense (1999)
directed by M. Night Shyamalan

There is a theory that some spirit entities aren’t aware that they are deceased, while another theory states that some entities need assistance from the living in order to move on. This movie captures both of these concepts well.

White Noise (2005)
directed by Geoffrey Sax

This movie captures the concept and use of EVP very well and also demonstrates—by use of a great example—that you can never be sure of who from the other side you are communicating with.

1408 (2007)
directed by Mikael Håfström

This movie is a good example of what residual spirit activity might look like and also incorporates the idea that spirits can be attached to a building (or a room). It is believed that spirits can be attached to objects or locations and that they often repeat actions that may have been committed before they passed on from the living.

Paranormal Activity (2007)
directed by Oren Peli

All of the Paranormal Activity movies seem to follow a similar format. They start off by staying true to a lot of real-life paranormal experiences—knocks, noises, voices, etc.—simply as a way to capture the attention of the audience. Many of the clients we have worked with have had similar initial experiences and have asked us to investigate what might be causing them. Fortunately, none of our clients have had to face the level of danger that is depicted at the end of each Paranormal Activity movie.