By Katlyn Moncada, Arts & Entertainment Editor
“Paranormal Activity,” an indie film made with a budget of around $16,000, was not expected to even make it into theaters nationwide.
The eerie film about a demonic presence inside a couple’s suburban home slowly made its way to the big screen by popular demand. The film ended up making $193 million worldwide.
Now, “Paranormal Activity 3” is out and broke the box office record for best October opening ever with $54 million in its first weekend.
These films have set the tone for numerous other films and television shows containing paranormal storylines.
Horror films are not new to society. Without famous actors or high budgets, films usually flop. However, the majority of these trendy paranormal films have gone against the norm and succeeded.
“Many of these films are marketed and sold on the idea of having a cathartic experience of fear — being scared,” said John Bucher, film professor at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center. “We do not really care if it’s Tom Cruise who is scaring us or someone we have never heard of.
“It is often more effective if we do not know who is in the film. When it’s people we are not familiar with on screen, it is easier to believe what is happening on the screen is real.”
Because the films have a lack of famous faces, filmmakers are able to make them in higher quantities for a cheaper price. Bucher said horror films play on fear because it is a natural inclination to be afraid of things we do not understand and have not yet seen before.
While the normal reaction as a people of faith may be to shun these films that portray dark forces, Bucher said he is excited and encouraged by these types of films.
“There is a real opportunity for people of faith to make films and explore the supernatural because they are cheap and easy to make and there is a huge market for those sort of films,” Bucher said.
Many of the films claim to be “based on real events.” Since there is a sense of reality in them, some may not be able to watch these types of films because it can cause nightmares and a panic of unnatural fear.
Bucher said he is automatically drawn to media that may cause one to question what else is out there. Any film that honestly depicts these experiences intrigues him.
However, there is a need to walk carefully with true encounters with the supernatural, Bucher added.
Dr. Paul Jackson, professor of biblical studies, said watching paranormal-themed films could be dangerous.
“Evil spirits are actively involved in what God is trying to accomplish,” Jackson said.
While living in Texas, he said there was an evil presence in his home, and had to cast out the evil spirits.
Jackson also said he did not believe one should take part in séances, necromancy or other things of that nature.
He pointed out the relevancy of how the Bible deals with these issues and warns against evil practices in Deuteronomy.
“Do not mess around with this stuff because it does work,” Jackson said. “You are maybe unwittingly, yet viably, allowing Satan to come in and mess with your life.”
Bucher said as people of faith, Christians can attempt to answer people’s questions on whether these themes are real and what else is out there since paranormal films have sparked an interest among today’s current culture. However, people should be careful and cautious because according to Jackson, Satan is alive, active and “going to do everything he can to throw the wrench in the machine.”