I am not one to believe in the supernatural, but entertainment loves to utilize this medium to get the audience excited. It is right to do so. Our innate fear of the supernatural heightens our attention and despite the fear, we cannot turn away from what is happening.
We know that when we see a ghost in literature or a movie, something is about to go down. Ghosts just don’t appear for no reason. In horror movies, ghosts often drive the entire plot! I mean the most famous line from The Sixth Sense is “I see dead people”.
The supernatural is what makes things memorable because it is so out of the ordinary. You couldn’t care less if a squirrel peeked out from behind a tree, but a ghost, you would definitely remember a ghost. Especially now that there seems to be an increase in the interest of the supernatural. So many shows and movies are now basing themselves off of this premise. Popular shows such as Supernatural, Walking Dead, and, Vampire Diaries are just a few.
To me, I feel that including supernatural elements cheapens the plot (do not get me started on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). However, there is one example I can think of that uses the supernatural tastefully, Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The opening scene showcases a visit from a ghost, a visit that sparks the rest of the plot. What makes it tasteful is that it peaks just enough curiosity and then disappears. It makes its point just by appearing.
I usually abhor supernatural elements but I must say, well done Shakespeare.