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Scary Surveillance Footage: Elaborate Pranks or Proof of the Paranormal?

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In 1999, Blair Witch Project started a wave of films that embrace handheld cameras and home movie-style recording to give an air of authenticity to the horror genre. Not only was the style low budget, it was incredibly effective because of how real it looked and how relatable the format was. The Paranormal Activity franchise, [Rec], Cloverfield, and more picked up the Blair Witch baton and ran hard with it.

Now, thanks to the wonder of the internet, we have a whole new genre to terrify ourselves with -- and it's probably the most unnerving one yet because we have no idea if it's real or not. This year, several extraordinary pieces of footage have gone viral having been placed online by regular, ordinary non-filmmaking folks like you and me -- and it's difficult not to be spooked by them.

A recent one emerged from a high school in Cork, Ireland. It's worth mentioning that the school was founded back in 1828, and has, according to the school's principal, Aaron Wolfe, a history of unusual activity, including cold spots and the sound of voices and music coming from empty rooms. He told Unilad: "If it’s a prank, we don’t know how it was done. Motion sensors were set off at this time; that’s how it was caught."

As you click play, turn the sound up (you're going to get at least one jump out of it). Keep your eye on the door at the rear of the room, then the lockers, and finally, the cleaning sign. Oh, and hold onto your pants as well, because this is actually bone-chilling.


Could this be an elaborate hoax? Of course it could! But why would a high school, of all places, prank the world like this? Could it be a student film project? Sure! But don't those usually involve students acting and whatnot?

It's a head scratcher, and one that carries an extra air of believability in 2017, thanks to the proliferation of shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and The Dead Files, that set out to prove that paranormal activity is a very real phenomenon. (It's a side note, but one of my dearest friends has spent time out on missions with the Ghost Hunters, and he says he saw some legitimately crazy stuff in real time.)

It's all a question of whether you want to believe or not. A man named Joe Harris seems to want to. Check out this surveillance footage from a Papa John's (of all places):

Think that's bad? Then you obviously -- somehow -- haven't heard about Adam Ellis yet. Ellis, a young, very relatable human in New York, started hitting Twitter back in August, seemingly looking for advice about how to handle the strange goings-on in his apartment. The events are apparently ongoing because he is still, to this day, logging bizarre goings on in his home.

It all started with dreams about a young boy named David who was killed when shelves fell on him. Ellis, an illustrator, attempted to draw the boy he had seen:

Artwork by Adam Ellis

Ellis tried to find real-life events to back up the boy's story, but has so far failed to do so. He also moved apartments, but the activity followed him.

Ellis noted: "I just don't know if I'm supposed to protect my home with sage and spells, or try to help [David]. What if his death was covered up? Maybe he just wants justice."

Shortly after, Ellis explained that the cat activity would start up earlier, at around 10:30pm or so. After a few nights of this, things took a turn:

Ellis claims that when he picked up the phone, he heard electrical static, breathing, and a monotone voice that said simply "Hello." Ellis was spooked and hung up. "If I look at each individual incident on its own," he wrote, "there are perfectly logical explanations for everything. But after three weeks of weird shit happening, I don't know how to make sense of it all. The only thing I feel like I can do right now is write everything down. So that's what I'm doing. And that's what I'll keep doing."

Ellis then decided to buy a nanny cam, so he could keep an eye on the apartment, even when he wasn't there. This was clearly a terrible idea because then this happened:

Shortly after, Ellis got more strange footage. This time a tortoise shell hanging above the shelves fell down.

Then a glass moved on a coffee table on its own, while his cat freaked out in the background.

More freaky cat stuff:

In addition to all of the above, Ellis also claims he has experienced lightbulbs burning out within days of being installed, his television turning itself on and off, scratching at his front door, Polaroids of his well-lit hallway repeatedly developing as jet black, plants falling off shelves, and a variety of horrifying nightmares. His story is ongoing.

While some of what Ellis posts is far-fetched and reaching, if Ellis is pulling a prank, he's doing an excellent job. Talk about commitment! We're three months into this thing, with no signs of an end. If he was using this as a stunt to promote his illustrations, he's doing a terrible job of that too, since he never posts about anything other the paranormal activity now.

We're inclined to agree with you, Mr. Ellis.


So what is all of this? Is surveillance footage simply this generation's Blair Witch Project? Perhaps we're just living in a time when human beings are going to greater, homemade lengths to terrify each other. But it is worth considering the fact that, maybe -- just maybe -- we happen to be living in a period technologically-advanced enough to catch proof of the genuinely paranormal on camera. And that is undoubtedly more terrifying than any horror movie.

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