The Internet of (Scary) Things
Halloween month has finally begun! The 31 days of October are the happiest of the year for horror fans, and this year is no exception. There are films to watch, books to read, games to play, costumes to wear and incredibly twee decorations to hang up. All of which should, theoretically get us into the spooky spirit of the season, but these are modern times and there are terrible gaps in our entertainment schedule when we are commuting, at work, eating or driving. Gaps that can only be filled by the wonders of the internet. So, whether you have some time to kill staring at your phone on the train, your boss is temporarily distracted from what you are up to or you need something to make you run faster when you are out jogging at night, here are some of the spookiest things on the web:
Split Lip is a horror anthology webcomic written by Sam Costello but illustrated by a variety of artists from around the world. Not every single story is equally unsettling, but the variety of artists and genres means that no matter what particular combination of visuals and plot sends shivers up your spine, there will be something for you here. The stories are all short and self-contained enough that they are the perfect length for a coffee break, and if you don’t find at least one story in this collection between now and Halloween that keeps creeping back into your mind when you least expect it, then I will be surprised.
A second anthology webcomic, this one written by Big Mike Walton, with a slightly different focus. While Split Lip was all about dragging you relentlessly into the depths of each story and making you suffer, False Positive lives up to its name, giving you some fairly light and upbeat moments before hammering home the horror. It feels more like the old EC Comics or The Twilight Zone in tone and the more consistent art style achieved by having only one artist helps to drag you back into the same mindset. While Split Lip was great for a spare moment, False Positive is the one that you can’t help but binge on, so you should plan accordingly.
The “No Sleep” Reddit is the birthplace of a great many of the “Creepy Pasta” horror stories that you have probably seen circulating on the internet. It is a place for amateur and professional writers of horror fiction to gather and share their stories like a digital campfire where they gather in the great dark night of the internet and try to spook each other. Some of the stories that started here, like “Candle Cove” became so well known that they were turned into television series. Some lesser known but infinitely more disturbing stories like “Borrasca” stayed right where they were as a reminder of just how twisted the human imagination can get.
If you were to ask what the least frightening thing in the world is, many people nowadays would probably bypass giant marshmallow men and reply “a wiki.” It seems like nothing could be more innocuous than those grey faced pages of information but the wiki belonging to the fictional “SCP Foundation” blows that idea out of the water. It exists as an online catalogue of all the supernatural artefacts that the Foundation secures, contains and protects. While some of these objects are almost farcical, and some deal with eldritch horrors so far beyond human imagining that they lose all their sting, there are a few hidden in the bunch that have an almost visceral effect and the usual act of wiki exploration, that so many of us seem to delight in, takes on a whole new appeal as you seek these terrors out.
By this stage everyone and their mother has heard of the modern monster myth “Slender Man” but back when that gentleman had just been invented there were very few stories centring on him. Marble Hornets is a video series, ostensibly someone’s woodenly acted student film, that became one of the cornerstones of the interlinking stories of that mythos. Watching it now, the brief background glimpses of something that should not be there are still unsettling, as is the plot revolving around the way that the monster damages the memories of those that it pursues so that they are constantly unaware that they are being hunted. But when it first appeared online, the “found footage” nature of Marble Hornets, and the willingness of fans to play along, created a whole horror story within the comments that eventually led to an overarching plot spanning multiple websites and channels that is considered by many to be a classic of contemporary horror.
This podcast blends elements from mythology, folklore and local history together in each episode to create a compelling case for the existence of a wide variety of ghouls and goblins. While some of the episodes lock onto a specific place and time, exploring a single story with possibly paranormal ties there are many episodes which merely have a thematic link between all the different eerie moments that are contained within. And if you are one of the many people in the world who still consider podcasts too weird to deal with, you will be happy to hear that Lore is now being made into a television show, so you can learn a little bit about the world and spook yourself, with accompanying images!