Paranormal Memory

On Wednesday, August 22, 2018 Other Worlds Austin will present the World Premiere of THE PERFECT HOST: A SOUTHERN GOTHIC TALE. The screening begins at 7:30pm at Flix Brewhouse and will conclude with a Q&A from director/co-writer Derrick Sims.

In the film, a young woman, while sorting her dead grandmother's affairs, stays in an eerie, southern mansion and soon discovers the matriarch may desire more than just her company. 

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Inspired by the World Premiere, OWA Founder and Artistic Director Bears Rebecca Fonté, shares a very personal ghost story:

Paranormal Memory

Like most people my first viewing of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY was terrifying. Especially with my wife sneaking around corners and throwing stuffed animals at me to try to get a rise. But what I found most interesting when I watched it was the distinction they made between a haunting and a curse. I'm sure this is based on something actual and not just something the film made up in the moment but I'm by no means an expert on ghostly endeavors. I am however someone who has first person experience with an ethereal presence.

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When I was growing up in Palatine, Illinois we lived in a house, a tri-level, built I'm guessing in the 1950s or 40s. After my younger sister was born I moved to a different bedroom, a room that had formerly been my father's office and thus not necessarily occupied in the late hours of the evening. I have very distinct memories — and this is not a once or twice thing, but rather a 30-plus times — of awakening in the middle of the night and finding a woman watching over me. Dressed all in white, and what I would describe as a silky nightgown and robe, she would stand in my doorway as if checking on me while I slept. I always knew she was there before I turned and looked and sometimes I wouldn't look. I was six or seven when I first remember it and I know I told my parents and I suspect they told me I was dreaming. However, I had the same dream over and over again. Sometimes when I was afraid to turn and look I would try to fall back asleep and I would feel a slight breeze on the back of my head as if someone was near me, preventing me even more from turning and looking. When I did look, I often found the door slightly open but actually in the act of closing as if someone had just left.

As I got older, and less afraid, I began to turn and look and watch longer. I remember the woman was young, younger than my own mother, and she would be pale white. It’s as if she was a black and white photograph. She was standing in the doorway not moving. If I waited long enough, and didn't move, she would sometimes step into the room. She would get about halfway to the bed and stop again. I never felt any danger from her. In fact, I felt safe when I saw her. I can't remember anything about things happening in my life and their connection to whether I saw her or not, but the fact that I don't remember anything like that — like I don't remember that she would appear if my parents and I have had a fight — makes me think that her arrival had nothing to do with whether or not I needed her. It's as if she came when she needed me.

When I was in 8th grade, we moved across the suburbs to the south side. I hadn't seen my watcher in a while. But I do remember I saw her in one of the last nights we were in the old house. I remember because there were boxes in my room. This time I tried to stay as still as possible and see if she would come in for than she ever had before but she didn't. I do remember that she turned and walked back to the door which I can't remember if I had ever seen before. In our new house, which was built specifically for us meaning we were the first family to live in it, I never saw any Paranormal Activity. Years later, after I watched the film of that title I realized that, of course, there was a difference between a haunting which was happening in the house I was living in and a curse which would have followed me to Lansing, Illinois. I've never seen a ghost since but I do believe in them.

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I've never done any research into the families that lived at 616 North Hawk Street, but I'm not sure any research would turn anything up. It's not like my watcher had anything wrong with her so I don't think she was brutally murdered. I don't know. In my mind I've decided that there was a child in the room that I was sleeping, her child, that she just wanted to check on. Maybe she had died young or maybe child had died and she kept returning to the child's room. Either way, whenever I hear a story about a haunting I never discount it. I'm only suspicious if the person subscribes to some sort of evil intent of the presence because I never felt that.

I think old houses have a lot of stories to tell. I think we just have to be open to seeing those stories and in the right place and maybe even the right age. What I loved about THE PERFECT HOST is how it creates such a strong atmosphere in which anything could happen. Some people think if we are open to seeing things and then we see them that discounts the reality of what has been seen. I think there is a lot more out there that we’re not seeing. When we find ourselves in emotional states in which we are open to anything — maybe it’s because we’re emotionally distraught and looking for help, maybe it’s because we’re a child and unafraid of the world — that’s when we see things.