Monday, February 13, 2012

"Marble Hornets" is the most frightening thing I have ever seen in my Entire Life

Some months ago, I was talking to my friend Parker about how I really don't find anything particularly appealing about the horror genre and that even the supposed classics don't really frighten my too much. He mentioned that a YouTube show titled "Marble Hornets" that was so psychologically terrifying that to this day, he wished he could erase all memory of it from his mind, forever.

Last night, while my whole house was quiet and dark, this popped back into my head and I decided (for some reason) that it would be as good a time as any to start watching. It's been a while since I've had this much trouble sleeping.

Specifically, "Marble Hornets" tells the story of Jay, who is looking over the tapes of his mysterious friend Alex, who while filming a run-of-the-mill student film, started becoming extremely paranoid before shutting down production. Jay manages to secure the footage Alex shot and discovers that a lot of it wasn't even of the production, and was footage Alex was shooting of himself. It quickly becomes clear that Alex is being stalked by an unknown supernatural figure. Jay takes it upon himself to figure out what's going on, filming everything that happens to him, and discovers that everything is about to get even more complicated.

It's fitting that I watched "Chronicle" yesterday, as the format that it followed was much the same as "Marble Hornets", in that it was supposed to look like it was entirely filmed by someone who wanted to catalogue the strange events taking place around them. However, "Marble Hornets" really runs with this concept and fleshes it out a lot more effectively than "Chronicle". The 'found footage' format works extremely well for the horror genre and has proved profitable in movies like "The Blair Witch Project". What makes "Hornets" so special though, is how it utilises low-quality cameras and short video snippets, similar to what would typically be seen on a YouTube video-blog (ahem). This results in many tense scenes where we don't know what's going on, because of the low lighting, or the shaky, amateurish camerawork. The only thing that re-assures us, is the ominous text, that silently fades onto the screen to reassure us of what has happened. Most ingenious of all is how the presence of The Slender Man (the spindly, ghostly antagonist of the series) causes cameras to flicker and short-out.

Many 'Entries' of "Marble Hornets" actually take place not at night, but during the day. This never hinders the creepy, tense atmosphere however, and the murky woodlands that are frequently presented to us only serve to enhance the already spine-tingling atmosphere.

If there's anything I would say against "Marble Hornets" is that the second-run of episodes grow to be a little bit too convoluted. I felt as though they could have condensed them down a bit better, for the sake of explaining the overall story plot with greater efficiency. The first set of entries really created a palpable aura of fear that has caused me to get very edgy when looking out the window or into a wooded area.

The series shows just how amazing a resource YouTube really is and really develops the concept of a viral video alternate reality experience, rather than just being another collection of episodic videos. There's also the small matter of The Slender Man being the scariest, most intimidating horror personality I've ever seen. Despite how uncomfortable and uneasy I am when he is onscreen, I can't wait for the next set of videos, to finally find out what's going on with Alex and what this faceless demon-man is trying to accomplish by terrorising these young filmmakers. Considering the fairly brief running length of most of the episodes, I strongly recommend anyone with an interest in viral videos and the 'found footage' format to check out this excellent series. And remember to always keep a camera at the ready, just in case you forget where you've been for the last twelve hours.

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