Amateur paranormal videos and home movies have been around a long time — decades before the internet was a thing, shaky Super-8 or early camcorder footage of Sasquatch, UFOs or local lake monsters made its way onto countless TV shows and documentaries. Deep down, most of us knew many of them were deliberately staged or doctored, or just misinterpreted. But there’s something deeply unnerving about the ever-so-slight possibility that what we’re seeing is the real deal.
The following six home-grown clips are claimed by their posters to be genuine, unaltered footage. While I’m reserving all judgment as to their authenticity, I will say these do feel realistic enough to suspend your disbelief… and after all, isn’t that the whole point?
The Ghost of Barton Mansion
This footage dates back to 2001, during a visit by four paranormal investigators to Barton Mansion in Redlands, California – widely considered one of the most haunted locations in the world. When the camera sweeps past one of the doors, team members encounter something terrifying. While it could very easily be a prank perpetrated by (or on) the people involved, a reflection or a trick of the light, it’s nevertheless a damn effective moment that has become notorious among the ghost-hunting community.
The “Fallen Angel” of Catalonia
This haunting short clip, shot in night-vision in the dense forest near Campdevànol, Spain, purports to document the discovery of a strange humanoid creature huddled in the undergrowth. The dialogue between the camera operator and his companion is not translated, but it’s easy to follow; the gist of it is that they are following a strange noise, which leads them to a huddled, skeletal and hairless figure crouched behind some brush. What happens next makes them scream and run like hell…
The Bathroom Door
This one was posted by the creators of the “Haunting of Sunshine Girl” web series and a spin-off book, so it was likely created to promote their new content… but a simple but effective setup still makes it one of the scariest clips on this list. The camera operator and her mother are terrified by what sounds like a girl screaming for help inside a bathroom; the operator ignores her mom’s warnings and opens the door, but finds no sign of anyone there… at first.
The Levitating Child
Uploaded back in 2009, this clip from Russia starts with an unidentified man playing with his dog in a snow-covered forest, when suddenly something catches the pup’s attention. Racing after the dog to find out what it is, the man is confronted with the unimaginable: a young girl apparently levitating about eight feet in the air, while a woman (possibly her mother) calmly observes. Some viewers have claimed to see the harness which suspends the girl off the ground, but they must be looking at a clearer version than this one.
The Girl in the Mirror
There have been many variations on the “mirror doppelganger” theme, but this Japanese clip is by far the creepiest. Maybe it’s the way the girl’s voice drops several octaves as the video is slowed down, or maybe it’s the calm, unemotional voice of the narrator (in Japanese with no subtitles, so I have no idea what he’s saying). Either way, this effect could be replicated easily – even without digital trickery – but it’s still spooky as hell.
The Haunting of Room 209
An unnamed hotel in Illinois erupted into chaos on September 14, 2003, when security staff received a report of a woman’s blood-curdling screams in Room 209. En route to the second floor, they are informed by the dispatcher that no one is currently staying in that room. A guard can be seen approaching 209, and at this point we can hear the screams from inside. Despite being told to wait for the police, the guard unlocks the door and enters… what happens next is open to interpretation.