I know I’m not alone when I say cheesy ghost-hunting shows are my guilty pleasure. Ghost stories and horror movies were made to rile up the animalistic fight-or-flight instinct in every person. Clowns, spiders, the dark, monsters and ghosts haunt the backs of our minds every day. However, the genre is more nuanced and sophisticated than the typical slasher film, and has quickly made homes in popular social media platforms. Compared to Creepypasta in 2008, these stories and beasts will make you genuinely question your nerves of steel.
For those of you who haven’t heard of A24, maybe you’ve heard of some of their movies. The small production company created Swiss Army Man, Eighth Grade, and other feel-good indie movies. However, they’re also the masterminds behind Hereditary and Midsommar, two very different but somehow equally horrific movies. Both films have strong tension and buildup, only for it to release in a dramatic, twisted ending. I won’t spoil either of the films, but you could tell they were made by the same people — the editing, shots, and quality were incredibly similar. Both films were also jam-packed with hidden symbolism that only added to the confusing mystery of the story. When they were released, fans praised (and practically worshipped) them for their creativity and unique outlook on horror. It wasn’t a slasher fic, it wasn’t outwardly full of obvious ghosts: they were psychological cult horrors that made you think about yourself and your morals. Crazy right? I highly recommend watching them for yourself to see how you feel.
Surprisingly, TikTok threw Antrum into the spotlight. Released in 2018, the film is part mockumentary, part found footage film, and said to be cursed. Users on TikTok filmed themselves watching “the deadliest movie ever made”, and people flocked to find it. While the lore behind it being cursed is false — nobody died, no theaters burned to the ground — there are very strong reactions elicited from the viewers. It could be a placebo effect from all the misinformation surrounding the film, but it was made with subliminal noises and messages to evoke psychological responses to it. Me personally: I’m watching it with my dad over the weekend, so I want to see how we react; he doesn’t know the lore behind the movie is all promotion.
Since The Blair Witch Project, “found footage” horror has taken audiences by storm. Some are more realistic than others, and ones that were just plain awful left a sour taste in critics mouths. However, Nathan Norman Brandt on Twitter sparked my interest in one series in particular. “I normally don’t like creepypasta stuff or scary internet things… Local 58 taps into the cosmic horror/ local tv hijacking stuff that I love so much.”
I don’t want to reveal too much — everyone sees something different in the videos — but these mini YouTube videos combine distorted music, horrific government warnings, symbolism, and an obsession with the moon to piece together some sick story. Even MatPat can’t really figure out what is exactly going on, it seems like nobody can. The creator of this apocalyptic nightmare Kris Staub is also known for creating the creepypasta Candle Cove: a whole nightmare on its own. I highly recommend watching these short clips, and investigate anything you think you see. As of writing this article, their latest video was published six months ago…who knows when Local 58 will be back.
Let’s be honest: Twitter is a mess. My feed is an absolute nightmare of the most random topics, but a common thread would be the horror artists I follow. These folks draw cryptids, beasts, SCPs, and their own horrific creations for the absolute fun of it. Skelehime (@skelehime) is known for her viral horror comics, taking twists and turns and childhood classics to deep, dark places. Trevor Henderson (aka @slimyswampghost) is a freelance horror artist who creates beasts who lurk in the shadows. Some of his most recognizable creatures are Siren Head and Long Horse — somehow they look worse than their names suggest. Siren Head has TikTok accounts, fan edits, video games, and YouTube videos solely devoted to the lore behind the terrifying monster.
Similarly to Henderson, Nick Tofani (@OneTrickTofani) utilizes a crude, simplistic style with little color to tell stories of supernatural destruction. Each monster comes with a single piece of dialogue, which adds to the tension radiating through the picture. If you don’t have an appreciation for cryptids of the dark, Jenna Barton’s (@dappermouth_art) spooky animals may be more appealing. Her incredibly realistic drawings of creatures who seem slightly off in their environment leave the viewer uneasy — her eerie captions add to the suspense. They aren’t overtly terrifying — but I’d be cautious if I ever saw one of her beasts in real life.
Horror as a genre has changed so much in the decades, and I personally feel like the content we have right now is magnificent. I am equal parts intrigued and put off by what I’ve seen, but I only want to dive deeper into the rabbit hole. On the plus side, it’s also nice to support local artists pouring their hearts out.