Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor
The horror genre has evolved in all forms of entertainment. If done right, it can blend seamlessly with comedy, romance, action, drama, fantasy and science fiction. However, there’s a hidden gem of a subgenre that has gained major recognition as of late: Analog horror.
According to Urban Dictionary, analog horror is “a subgenre of horror told in the manner of a classic analog style, typically using an old school, pre-digital style when presenting lore, using things such as television broadcasts or infomercials.” This subgenre is associated with found footage horror, since these series often make use of recovered tapes or recordings to tell a dark and scary story. Analog horror has seen a massive creative boom in recent years, but the actual roots are deeper than what meets the eye.
The 1999 horror film “The Blair Witch Project” is cited by many fans and creators as a seminal influence on the genre. Considered as the first found footage horror film, it tells the story of three college students who disappeared in the woods of western Maryland while filming a documentary about the titular local legend. Blair Witch utilized the internet in what is arguably the most successful viral marketing campaign in cinematic history. The film website presented itself as a collection of evidence found from the woods: Police reports, missing persons posters, and even "interviews" with the students' parents. It was so convincing that many people believed it was real. Therein lies the key strength of analog horror: the illusion of authenticity.
Analog horror’s primary appeal is the appearance of being authentic found footage, be it of a public access channel, a banned TV commercial, a series of instructional videos or even a radio broadcast. Those who watch a series like Local 58 without any prior knowledge, they would be forgiven for thinking that it’s recordings of an actual local TV station. As the line between fact and fiction is blurred, the audience is more susceptible to horror.
Created by Kris Straub, of Candle Cove fame, it launched in 2015. It was a series of recordings about a public access television channel of the same name. Over the course of several decades, we witnessed the channel be continuously hijacked and broadcast ominous, surreal messages. In one of the more chilling entries called Contingency, the channel’s signoff is interrupted by a message from the president of the United States, informing viewers of an American defeat in some unknown conflict. The president calls on all citizens to perform their civic duty of preserving the dignity of America by committing an unspeakable deed. An effective bait-and-switch that became the highlight of this mini-series and a technique that will be explained in detail in part two next week.