What the film got right, cont'd
Physical contact. The woman who is the object of the poltergeist or haunting activity in the movie is affected physically by the mysterious force, receiving scratches and a bite mark. Does this kind of violent physical contact really happen? Yes, it does, but in very rare, extreme cases. There are documented cases of victims being scratched, bit, slapped, pushed, shoved, hair-pulled and more. Again, I must emphasize that this kind of physical attack is relatively rare.
The paranormal investigator. The film did a pretty good job in its depiction of a good paranormal investigator and an initial interview. He wasn't some over-the-top "psychic" lunatic. He asks reasonable, careful, intelligent questions, at first attempting to eliminate natural causes for the activity. He isn't alarmist and doesn't scare his clients with proclamations of demon infestations, or that they should vacate their apartment immediately. In general, he gave them good advice.
He is also correct in recommending another investigator when he becomes uncomfortable with the things he was sensing.
WHAT THE FILM GOT WRONG
Physical contact. In addition to the scratches and bites, the woman also is eventually dragged down a hallway, feet first, by some unseen entity. Could this happen in an extreme poltergeist or "evil spirit" haunting? I suppose we can't absolutely rule it out, but I don't know of any case on record in which a person has been dragged down a hallway or something similar. This doesn't mean there hasn't been such a case, and it might be possible, but the chances of something this extreme happening are so remote that I have to toss it off as merely the imagination of the filmmaker.
The poltergeist activity. Although the film got many of the types of poltergeist activity and its escalation correct, it did not understand that the phenomena most often fades away and disappears on its own after a few weeks. If the film depicted that, however, they would have a film with a very dull ending.
The Ouija. There were a few incidents with regard to the Ouija board with which I have reservations:
- Ouija planchettes do not move by themselves. Let me hedge a little by saying that I cannot state dogmatically that a Ouija board planchette has not and cannot move without a person touching it. After all, if a poltergeist or ghost can switch a light off and on, pound on a wall or even scratch a person, could it not also move a Ouija planchette? Yes, I'd have to admit, and I have even received reports from people who say they have witnessed this. As far as I know, however, a Ouija planchette moving on its own has never been documented on film or video. (If I'm wrong, please send me the evidence.) And in the cases where people say they have witnessed it, people obviously were present, which could indicate a psychokinetic source (that is, caused by the minds of the observers). In the film, the planchette moves when no one is around.
- Ouija boards do not erupt into flame. Such a thing happening is highly doubtful.
Spirit possession. In the film, the woman - another spoiler here! - is possessed by the entity and attacks her partner. Possible?
It appears to be true that a person can be "possessed" temporarily by a spirit or foreign personality. Part of the problem in understanding this phenomenon is what this possession really is. However, there are good cases in which a spirit personality temporarily takes control of a living person to relay a message or other information. This might be the case with some spirit mediums. And such possession has also occurred spontaneously without the living person inviting the spirit invasion. (I dislike using the word "possession" because it automatically makes most people think of demonic possession, which we are not talking about here.) And, as I've said, we know so little about this phenomenon and how "genuine" the documented cases really are (there could all kinds of psychological factors), that it's hard to even talk about in an intelligent way. Having said that, if the phenomenon is possible, then the possession by good (or benign) or evil forces both are possible.
With regard to the film, however, can an evil spirit possess and control a person to the point of murder? Countless murderers have, of course, blamed their crimes on demonic possession, and no doubt there are many among the faithful who think they're right. I certainly don't. And I find the film's climax to be so unlikely that it's ludicrous. More colorful filmmaking.
Next page: What the couple did right and wrong