The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler: More Paranormal Investigation in Books & Film

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Today, Sonia Gensler guest blogs about some spooky books and movies for fans of her latest novel The Dark Between!

I could make an extensive list of favorite ghostly books and movies. For Novel Novice, however, I really wanted to focus on stories involving paranormal investigation. (After all, THE DARK BETWEEN is about the teen children of paranormal investigators who undertake an investigation of their own.) Spine-tingling hauntings abound in films and books, but how many times do we see professional investigators step in to identify and contain the spooks? Yes, there’s Ghostbusters, which I adored. But what about seriously creepy, high quality books and films that feature paranormal investigation? Here are my suggestions . . .

Books (in order of publication):

The Haunting of Hill House (1959)

HillHouseFlap copy excerpt: Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House. As they begin to cope with chilling, even horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

My thoughts: Though set in the 50s, this story doesn’t involve modern paranormal investigation technology. However, the characters do undertake an investigation of sorts, and their findings are spooky. I adore the atmosphere of dread, the emotional instability of the characters, and the focus on psychological horror rather than cheap scares. This is a horror classic — be sure to watch the 1963 film, as well!

The Haunting of Maddy Clare (2012)

MaddyClareFlap copy excerpt: Sarah Piper’s lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis-rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts- has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide.

My thoughts: I lost a night of sleep over this one. I read it at my Dad’s house–which I’m convinced is haunted–and even though the story was making my hair stand on end, I couldn’t put it down. It has all my favorite things: historical setting, dark mystery, ghosts, sexy romance. It also offers a fascinating look at paranormal investigation in 1920s, including all the fun gadgetry you could ever wish for.

Films (in order of their release):

El Orfanato/The Orphanage (2007)

OrphanageIMDB: A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

My thoughts: This film starts quietly and builds toward the chills and thrills. The payoff is amazing. My favorite part is when the paranormal investigation team (headed by the legendary Geraldine Chaplin) begins their work at the orphanage. I literally screamed–in a crowded theater–during one scene!

The Awakening (2011)

AwakeningIMDB: In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the ‘missing’ begin to show themselves.

My thoughts: I love this film for its mystery and romance, but most of all for its historical look at paranormal investigation. Kudos to the writers for the cool-headed female investigator who uses high-tech equipment for her time. Also, boarding school FTW!

The Conjuring (2013)

ConjuringIMDB: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.

My thoughts: This film features a strong script and excellent performances, but my favorite thing is the detailed plan of investigation and thoughtful/organic introduction of all the equipment. Interestingly enough, this film would probably be considered a historical since it is set in the early 70s, but aside from the lack of digital technology, the equipment seems pretty advanced.

Readers: what am I missing? Do you have any suggestions for high quality films or books that feature sustained paranormal investigations?

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