Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lost in Woods You've Never Been In

"Of course I'm bringing a flashlight this time."
- Jay, prior to Entry 60

So I'm well aware that I've been yammering about Marble Hornets, Slenderman and the Operator these past few months.

As a horror nut, I'm hard-pressed to find material that puts a new spin on the genre. Mainstream media often offers us the same old tired tropes such as vampires, werewolves or zombies and we're subjected to the same old stories with a few cosmetic changes thrown in for good measure.

Enter Marble Hornets, an alternate reality game (ARG) featuring the creators' own spin on one of the horrors that the Internet has spawned: the Slenderman.

Marble Hornets is a web series with videos shot in similar fashion to 'found footage' films such as the Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Diary of the Dead and Cloverfield. These videos are mainly uploaded to a dedicated YouTube channel on varying intervals. It narrates the story of a group of people and their encounters with a mysterious entity dubbed the Operator, the in-universe name for Slenderman.

What makes Marble Hornets different is that it has an interesting take on exploiting our fear of the unknown. Perhaps the most unnerving thing about the Operator is that it is mostly a passive antagonist, where most of the time the creators make it appear that at the time of filming they are not aware of its presence and only 'discover' it upon editing and uploading the videos. It could often be seen lurking in the background and is only visible for a few seconds before the camera unknowingly pans away. During the rare times that the uploader is actually aware of the Operator's presence, be prepared for pure nightmare fuel.

As an ARG, the uploader actually plays the role as if it was real life and his updates are backed by an in-character Twitter account. He communicates with followers there, and sometimes it's difficult to distinguish between who's just a fan and who's actually involved with the series.

Marble Hornets also features characters that serve as supplements to the series. They actively interact with the main characters either by providing cryptic clues, observing from afar and physically engaging with them. Whether they are friendly or not is still under speculation.

Overall, Marble Hornets exhibits the collective power of the Internet as a storytelling medium and shows its unique take on horror. It somehow provides an immersive experience by combining different avenues for content delivery, amateur but extremely effective storytelling and the imagination of the Internet crowd.

If you want to experience sleepless nights, be sure to check it out.

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