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Movies with magical and esoteric themes sell, and sell well. It’s not uncommon for researchers to use details from occult lore in order to make a film seem richer, darker or more mysterious (it also means they won’t have to make things up, which is harder than copying a symbol from a book). An example of this is found in ‘Max Payne’ (2008) when the lead character meets a Haitian crime boss; in the background, Voodoo magical symbols (easily available on google) have been painted on the walls. Such esoteric imagery may look impressive, but out of context it is fairly meaningless.

Occasionally, researchers delve a little more deeply into the realm of the occult (a word which simply means ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’). In the following films, the levels of occult realism can start to feel a little spooky.

5. Sleepy Hollow (Fantasy/Horror, 1999).

One symbol that often makes an appearance in Hollywood is the pentacle or pentagram, the five-pointed “witches’ star”, which can be noted in numerous films over the last few decades. It is normally utilised as proof that a character or group of characters is “evil” or “Satanic”. But the opposite is true in Tim Burton’s ‘Sleepy Hollow'; instead, Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) makes the mistake of assuming that the all-seeing eye in a five-pointed star equals proof of malevolent witchcraft when in fact the lovely Katrina (Christina Ricci) is actually using it in an attempt to protect him. Luckily, Ichabod figures this out in time to go and save her.

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