If there’s one topic that is bound to split horror fans alike, it is the supernatural and paranormal. It is impossible to deny that some of the best horror novels and films have been based around the supernatural, with The Blair Witch Project perhaps being the most famous and original example. In fact, The Blair Witch Project was so original and convincing in its story and filming that it was widely believed that the cast members had truly gone missing until they were forced to be revealed to be alive and well. This of course brought the found footage film genre back into popularity, which has all but died out in its underground status.
Found footage films may be underground in the grand scheme of the horror world currently, but found footage photos of the supernatural have existed since the birth of spirit photography in the 1860s. There have been some very convincing examples of ghost photos since then but now we are in the digital age where photoshop dominates photo editing, can we really trust the authenticity of ghost photos?
This first image is the infamous Enfield Poltergeist photo from the infamous Enfield Hauntings that happened in Enfield, London between 1977 and 1979. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the case or need your memories refreshing, the Enfield Hauntings were a series of documented hauntings that were the supposed result of a poltergeist living in the council house of the Hodgkins. As is typical of poltergeist hauntings, furniture was constantly moved, scraping noises were heard, the children were supposedly possessed to speak in demonic tongues and perhaps most chillingly, the eldest child Margaret, was levitated into the air, which was snapped by now world renowned photographer and documenter Graham Morris, who claimed that all of the Enfield Hauntings were indeed legitimate. Although there have been dubious quantities of sceptical responses to the legitimacy of this controversial photo, it is undeniably chilling to stare into the picture and examine the abject terror in the younger siblings’ faces and to simply imagine how intense this experience must have been.
Now, this second image isn’t what you would traditionally consider to be scary, but given the context, the photo becomes creepier. This is one of the most well-known ghost photos and for good reason. Captured in 1936 in Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England, this particular photo has been named the ‘Brown Lady’ and since its exposure to the public eye has faced a lot of criticism and scepticism as can be expected of the nature of the photo, but what sets this apart from modern photos is that this was not captured in an age where photo editing software. Many people believed that a ghost truly was manifesting itself to the photographer here, which obviously inflicted fear upon many superstitious people. Unfortunately, this was unearthed to be another hoax and the white ‘spectre’ was simply an image from another photo, held above the photo of the grand old staircase of Raynham Hall. The reason that this photo in particular is so chilling is that when considering the age in which it was exposed to the public, superstition was rife and camera trickery was not understood and so this appeared to be authentic, and so caused a lot of upset. Would you not react in the same way?
This last photo is perhaps the most chilling ghost photo to exist. It is actually a still from a very distressing video that was extracted from security footage. That means that this was not filmed professionally by a cameraman or shot on somebody’s unreliable mobile phone, but was unintentionally witnessed.
In the photo, we can see that a man is being dragged across a corridor floor in what looks to be an apartment building of some sort. Next to his cocked leg, we can see a black blur, which appears to be a spectre of sorts, dragging the unfortunate victim like a ragdoll. There have somewhat been fewer attempts to debunk this photo than you would expect from a photo of its ilk, which leaves you to wonder if this is genuine footage of a ghost in action or a very elaborate hoax. Superstitious or not, this picture in particular is definitely chilling.
For many people, it does not matter how convincing a supposedly paranormal photo is, ghosts simply are not a truth in this world and all of these photos have been hoaxes.
Even if this was the case, it does not detract from how disturbing these photos are. Imagine yourself in the situation that the photographers have all been faced with. You look down your lens only to see a horrific manifestation before your eyes or in the case of the final photo, you are a security guard revisiting very damning security footage. Even the bravest amongst horror fans cannot deny that these photos are both mysterious and creepy. In actual fact, the Enfield Hauntings story has wriggled its way into popular culture very recently, as it has been the subject of the sequel to The Conjuring, which is sure to please horror fans and cinemagoers alike. Could ghosts exist or are ghosts simply a hoax too far? You decide!