YouTube is full of "This is totally real, guys" ghost videos, and if you don't spend at least one night around Halloween browsing through a bunch of them, you're not truly getting into the spirit of the holiday. Here are what we consider the most eerily convincing videos in the genre.*
*Note: Science has found zero empirical evidence for the existence of ghosts, aliens, demons or any other supernatural creatures, and these videos will surely not fool an expert in video fakery. Unless he or she watches them alone, late at night, in the dark. Then they become very convincing.
#6. The Levitating Girl
It's just a dude strolling through the woods in Russia, when he sees something ... weird:
Approximately 99 percent of "supernatural" videos can be revealed as hoaxes simply by asking "Why was anyone filming this?" As much as Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project have attempted to convince us otherwise, people usually don't have cameras glued to their faces unless they know someone is about to be shot out of a cannon or something. So that's our question as soon as this video opens:
Twist ending: The dog is actually several smaller dogs in a suit.
A Russian man is out filming his dog in the woods, waiting for something quantifiably adorable to happen. Maybe the dog was supposed to do a backflip or something. Instead, he runs off, having apparently sensed black magic in the trees. The cameraman chases after him and stumbles across these two girls and holy shit, one of them is flying:
"Honey, can you bring me the stepladder? Yeah, she's stuck in the air again."
The older girl in orange watches appraisingly as the tiny one in red floats 10 feet above the ground. Camera Manikov steps in for a closer look, making all of the noise in the world as he does so, and the girls spot him. The hovering child drops back down to earth and the two run off.
They would have flown off, but they'd expended their spell slots for the day.
Now, the obvious answer here is that the girl is on a wire. There's even a convenient gap in the filming -- as the guy is moving in closer, the camera is pointed at the ground for a second or two, and when it snaps back up, the little girl is already back on the ground. We don't ever actually see her descend, which if wires were involved would be a dead giveaway. You'd see her tilting awkwardly or her clothes pulling up at odd angles wherever the wires were attached, even if she were wearing a harness. So clearly, she's being held aloft by wires that are connected somewhere in the trees ...
Yeah, you see -- right ... hm ...
Um, in the ... uh, trees ...
Right in that one area ...
Or maybe a crane? Someone could've, you know, moved a crane out there to the left or right of the girls and tied a harness to that ...
Sure, let's go with that.
Ok, well, it's probably just ... CGI or green screen or something. Maybe it's a viral ad created by a tourism bureau in Russia designed to ensure we never, ever go to Russia. Or, if we do, that we never enter the woods alone. Mission accomplished, guys!
Also, are we racists for finding the foreign videos creepier? Like this next one...
#5. The Headless Ghost
In this video, we have four kids wandering around looking for a ghost in an abandoned school in Iraq (one description says India, but since they're speaking Arabic we'll go with Iraq). The boys are kind of wandering aimlessly through stairwells and empty classrooms for a solid two minutes, which would arouse suspicion under our "Why is anyone filming this?" rule if not for the fact that we know they are explicitly waiting for the lights to suddenly dim and for a hallway full of disembodied 19th century clothes to start doing the Monster Mash. That doesn't happen. What happens is much creepier:
About halfway through, while conducting yet another unremarkable sweep of a hollowed-out classroom, they seem to find what they are looking for:
Which they celebrate by not acknowledging it or reacting in any way.
A headless goddamned ghost appears right in goddamned front of them. You literally see it materialize on camera -- of all the entries on this list, this is the one you absolutely have to watch (here's a shorter version that cuts right to the ghost if you don't have 4 free minutes). Seriously, your mind will be blown like Eric Stoltz's penis in The Rules of Attraction. As they swing the camera lazily through the room, the ghost just walks very purposefully toward them like it's delivering a pizza, while a long, low moan emanates from its phantom lungs.
"I should never have started smoking ghoooOOOooost cigarettes!"
Surely at this point our ghost hunters are propelling themselves the hell out of that school on pants-shredding jets of crimson-tinged fear diarrhea. Except they aren't. In fact, they have no reaction at all, and they continue scouring in the haunted building for another two boring minutes until the clip ends. (At least the "moaning" isn't coming from the ghost -- it's the beginning of a call to prayer in a neighboring mosque. You hear the service continue throughout the rest of the video.)
YouTube commenters seem to think the ghost is simply one of the boys who went to go look out the window; that the bright light coming through obscures his head and gives him a washed-out ghostly look for the camera. But again, watch the video -- when the camera sweeps across the floor a few seconds earlier, nobody is standing there:
And it really does look like a translucent figure materializes into an empty freaking room. You can even see it beginning to bleed out of the wall and take shape when the cameraman first shakily stumbles in:
Maybe the dude was just wearing really translucent clothing that day.
If this is all an accident of the lighting and their shitty cell-phone cameras, then it was a lucky damned accident, considering they were specifically there to hunt ghosts in what they thought was a haunted abandoned building. If they doctored the video with effects later, then this is a remarkably subtle job. These are giggling teenagers goofing around, and we're pretty sure they gave us a creepier ghost effect than any of the Paranormal Activity movies. So good job, guys -- you successfully creeped us out, one way or another.
#4. The Jakarta Angel
You've got to love security camera ghost footage. Black and white, low-res, easy to fake. So you see a video like this on YouTube and expect the "Jakarta Angel" to be some bright blur, probably a lightning bug that landed on the camera. Instead, you get this:
This security footage from Cilandak Square in Jakarta, Indonesia, starts on a relatively empty public square at night. Then, about 7 seconds in, a big, bright, winged thing plops down onto the pavement like one of Zeus' electric titanshits, then bounces out of sight less than a second later:
"Whoops, never mind! Thought I saw a virgin."
A group of bystanders rush onscreen, flocking to where the creature landed and searching around like maybe it dropped its keys:
"Proof of the afterlife is one of things on our scavenger hunt list!"
It almost looks like it could be viral marketing for something like Diablo III or a new season of Supernatural, but the footage has been floating around for over a year now and so far no one has claimed it. One part of your brain knows this is just a computer-generated effect. But goddamn, did they do a good job -- notice how the glow from the flaming angel beast even lights up the structure on the opposite side of the frame:
And the light from the "angel" has a strange weight to it -- you can see it pulse outward at the bottom as it suddenly gains mass after striking the ground. Anyway, maybe a Pixar animator got bored and threw this together just to mess with people. After contacting all of his or her friends in Jakarta, Indonesia, to stage it. Including, of course, his or her friends with access to the security footage of that particular public square.
The alternative is that a seraph chose to rocket all the way down to Earth for, like, 2 damn seconds in front of what appears to be a laundromat. Maybe someone carelessly dropped one of those limited-edition 50 State Quarters, and it really needed Wyoming to complete its collection.
While we're on the "fallen angel" genre ...