DISCLAIMER: Jump scares, extreme adult themes, and language.
Hello, everyone and anyone, Aaron the WebGuy here to present to you some truly spooky links to binge during this Halloween season. And I do mean binge worthy, since if you decide to follow me down the rabbit hole, you will have hours of video to scare the heck out of you. This is what I would consider a "deep dive" into some truly disturbing fiction that blends in just enough reality that it makes it somehow all the more unsettling.
As you can see by the title and images, I will be talking about a certain urban myth that was born in the internet age. The Tall Man, aka the Slenderman, is something I am sure many of you have heard about, and it is a monster that has become a modern day boogeyman. His "tendrils" of influence spread far and wide, and Slenderman is operating in the shadowy woods all over the world.
Discovering the origins of the Slenderman is actually quite easy. It started on somethingawful.com forums with just a picture and a statement. "We didn't want to go, we didn't want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time..."
And voila, the monster has been photoshopped into existence and, with that, the nightmares of people. This post would be the one to start the ball rolling, and now there are thousands of stories and videos dedicated to The Slenderman. Creepypasta.com, (a website for scary paranormal tales & Short Horror Microfiction), was how he came to life as more and more stories were written. It wouldn't be too much longer for him to migrate into film.
Describing the Slenderman is not a simple task unfortunately. Sure, you can go by the appearance, dressed in a black suit with a red tie, a face without features, and unnaturally tall and thin. His standard modus operandi is infecting fear and paranoia into his victims from the shadows and luring them into the woods to harass or kidnap them.
That is the bare bones explanation of this monster, and for our purposes, it is woefully inadequate since that is just the baseline. When I called him a modern day boogeyman, I wasn't kidding since Slenderman is almost a blank slate for our fears. Most people are scared of someone watching them from afar and of the hushed silence of the woods at night, our fear of being controlled by a force we can't possibly fight against. The hopelessness of a seemingly invincible presence destroying lives around us. His motivation for terrorizing his victims changes from story to story and even his methods. Whatever drives your fear is the fuel Slenderman will use to drive you insane.
Well, that is certainly grim now, isn't it? Before we continue, I need to briefly describe what kind of videos we will be seeing. Augmented Reality Game, or ARG for short, is a form of storytelling that goes beyond the video or page. It involves real life fans outside of the series interacting with the characters for the purpose of the fiction. An example being a clue to the story being mailed straight to a viewer or coordinates that lead folks into the middle of nowhere to find a package with more pieces to the greater puzzle. The lucky or brave fans who receive this info publish it on the internet for the whole of the fandom to witness - and even for the characters of the show to be informed. In short, audience participation is a key aspect of these games and probably the biggest reason people get invested in ARGs.
So with all that said, onward to Spooky Links! Here is how I will be presenting them to you: first will be the link to the original YouTube page or first video in a series, and then I'll be linking directly to a wonderful Youtuber named Nightmind and his "Explained" series. To be perfectly honest, these are your best bets to get the whole story since Nick Nocturne of Nightmind has done the ARG legwork for you. Also, I'll give my thoughts on whether it will be the right show for you. Finally, one last thing to note about all the series I am presenting today is that they take place over the course of years. Due to that these series are slow burns that take a while to setup before the real show begins.
First the grandfather of ARG and Slenderman. Here is the beginning of our descent into madness and paranoia, Marble Hornets.
My thoughts: Marble Hornets is the granddad for a reason; it blazed a trail for countless others to follow. It has it flaws to be sure, such as the need for fans to break codes presented in videos that I know I wouldn't have been doing if I watched this during it's run. The biggest failing of this one for me is that I didn't think any of the characters were all that likable. Still, with all that said, if you want the full experience this is where you start.
Next comes my personal favorite of the bunch. Everyman Hybrid is probably the main reason I am motivated to share these spooky links. Prepare for a bait and switch approach to storytelling that starts off maybe too simple and then morphs into something truly unique.
Golly, I sure am glad I found this cool fitness video blog to get into shape. Everyman Hybrid builds a complex narrative that adds in many new elements to the Slender lore. Unlike Marble Hornets, I identify with these characters and care what happens to them. And while all of these shows have novice actors and it can be wooden at times, Everyman Hybrid has a breakout performance that if you stick to watching, you will be well rewarded. Frank Sinatra, baby! Flaws for this one is that the ARG elements are so complicated, I really feel the Nightmind Explained series is the only way to go at first.
Tribe Twelve can be summed up pretty well by saying that it is simply the most "beautiful" of the Slender series. The special effects and design take everything to the next level and amaze me to this day how good everything looks. The flip side to that is that the acting in this one tests my patience. It gets much better as it goes on, but exclaiming. "WHAT THE ****!" again and again can get old. Once again, a complex narrative, that alone worth your time, and quality in its production puts it above all the rest.
There's a lot of content if you take the plunge along with me this Halloween. It can be daunting experiencing these stories without a little help from Nightmind. Nick Nocturne's voice is almost as buttery as my own, but what if you just wanted to experience the story without interruption and just watch a series? Well, join me in a recent series called Keratin Garden that I am currently watching myself and only requires you to click the link and watch away.
This one starts off slow with just the usual camera trickery and questions. While I am currently loving my nail drip manicure and looking sassy, I wouldn't be posting this here if it was just that simple, would I? Holy smokes, I love the natural acting in this series. Story just seems so real, and her reactions are how I imagine I would handle myself if caught by supernatural horrors. (Note: not much happens in the first video, but it sets the scene for those that follow.) I haven't caught up on this one since I am not Alexie Aaron and I only have the fortitude to watch in bits and pieces. Check this one out, and let me know what you think in those comments.
A wealth of horror and supernatural suspense awaits you, dear reader. I think horror is a strong word for it since I think any gore stuff is PG-13, which is how I like it personally. The language, at times, is stronger than that, but I personally have heard Alexie use all of these words at me just the other day, so no biggie there (just kidding it wasn't Alexie but the Red Pen).
In all seriousness though, I think that if you enjoy Alexie's work, you might also enjoy these stories. There are obstacles to finding satisfaction in these series, such as the amateur acting, shaky handheld camcorders, and the Augmented Reality Game elements that are required for the full picture. That is why my experience started with the Nightmind Explained series and afterward took on a life of its own. I'm not quite following coordinates into the woods, but I am checking twitter feeds for updates since I am eager for more.
Thank you all for reading and remember to stay out of the woods y'all. Happy Halloween!