"Paranormal Activity 3" topped box office charts this past weekend, according to figures released Sunday on boxoffice.com. The movie earned $54 million at the domestic box office. It was the top debut of all time for a horror film and the best October debut ever, the site reported.
Horror movies are commonly released in October, catering to moviegoers who want to psych themselves up for Halloween. But as the new wave of horror films in recent years has hit theaters, parents are wondering what happened to Casper the friendly ghost.
AJ Fonseca, a police officer in Vacaville, Calif., told The Christian Post that he hadn't yet seen "Paranormal 3," but he saw the first. Describing himself as "a movie buff," he might check out the new flick.
"The first one was real well done. Especially considering how little a budget and the director filmed it at his own home. in general id (sic) say kids can be influenced by what they watch. But it all lies at home. if a child knows better they could watch it and know its phoney (sic), even better, a good parent wouldnt expose them to it," Fonseca said in an email to the CP.
The "Paranormal Activity" franchise is a perfect example of the trend toward increasingly real, increasingly spooky occult-like films, a trend that began with "The Blair Witch Project" more than a decade ago. The first "Paranormal" film tells the story of a young couple, Katie and Micah (played by Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) who move into a house haunted with a presence. Katie tells Micah the presence has followed her since childhood.
To find the source, Micah puts a video camera on to record events in the bedroom as they sleep. They hire a psychic who says the presence is not a ghost but a demon and advises them to get a Ouija board. This inspires the classic scene in the movie where the Ouija board lights on fire and moves on its own.
The follow-up films, "Paranormal Activity 2" and the latest, "Paranormal Activity 3," both prequels, continue in the same eerie format, with a video camera, telling the story of Katie and her sister dabbling with the occult and retelling strange occurrences from Katie's childhood.
All three movies contain references to demons, witchcraft and the supernatural.
"Dear parents ... I assure you after watching 'Paranormal Activity 3', you will never leave your little ones in the bedroom ... alone," moviegoer Kat De Castro told The Hollywood Reporter.
"'Paranormal Activity 3' was insanely spooky. I can't even sleep me and my cats won't leave me alone they are making me paranoid," Tyler Carter told the online news outlet.
Because the film centers around two children, it has Christian parents concerned that films like Paranormal encourage kids to dabble in the dark side, with things like Ouija boards and séances.
"Funny thing, when I was a kid my parents wouldn't let me watch scary movies. After I became an 'adult' ... I saw every scary movie there was. It totally impacted me!" DeeDee Mann, of Denver, told The Christian Post. "To this day, I have to shut my closet doors, close the drapes, and check under the bed before I go to sleep at night. I'm 50 years old and wouldn't go see 'Paranormal' to save my life!"
Similar concerns arose with the Harry Potter books and movies. A 2006 survey by the Barna Group found the majority of even Christian teens have read or seen Harry Potter, with some saying it increased their interest in witchcraft.
Marcia Montenegro, author of SpellBound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today's Kids, said on her website, www.christiananswersforthenewage.org, "Many people today, influenced by television, movies, and fictional books, tend to think that magic is just made-up. ... We are in a world where many intelligent and nice people seriously practice the occult."
The book is a guide for parents on how to address issues of the supernatural with their children, and is available on Amazon.com.
Montenegro said in a previously released statement, "Parents need to be aware of the growing influence in our culture of the occult and the paranormal on children and teens."