That this movie has anything to do with death or near-death or earthbound spirits or spirit intervention or possession or release, is less than incidental. There is no evidence that the screenwriters' interest in the paranormal extends any farther than the much better movie, "Ghost."

The movie broadly lampoons exorcisms, house cleanings, and spirit removal sessions. The only character portrayed as having the slightest inkling of what is going on is Darrell (Jon Heder from "Napoleon Dynamite"), who works in a metaphysical bookstore called The Abandoned Planet. What's been abandoned here is anything truly paranormal.

In the movie's favor, at least its version of the spirit world is not peopled with malevolent throat slitters. What Hollywood recently did to the groundbreaking work of paranormal investigator Mark Macy ("Conversations Beyond the Light" and "Miracles in the Storm") with a movie called "White Noise," was a high crime committed against the unsuspecting movie-going public.

The fact is, what is actually going on in paranormal investigations is a thousand times more dramatic, more human, more comedic, not to mention entertaining, than anything stirred into this pot.

For instance, the confusion experienced by Elizabeth's character is common in cases of "waking up dead." The physical dead who "wake up" on the less dense astral plane and look around to see things pretty much as they've always appeared to be, may have no end of human drama-much of it funny when viewed from the outside-in their attempts to be seen and heard and responded to.

Reports of those who die accidentally or while drunk or under the influence of drugs or anesthesia or in the grips of powerful emotions such as anger, indicate that these spirits may attach to living human beings and proceed to try to satisfy their addictions through them, as "hitchhikers."

Psychiatrist Carl Wickland, author of "30 Years Among the Dead," was convinced that the majority of his patients were not suffering from psychosis at all, but were literally attached by earthbound spirits who were attempting to live through them.

Which brings me back to Raymond Moody, who has written that the reason we are attracted to the paranormal in the first place is because it is entertaining. At least, it should be.

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