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A look into analog horror

When someone hears the term “internet horror,” he or she is likely to reference creepypastas, subreddits devoted to scary stories and urban legends. However, within the past few years, a new type of horror has emerged online. This genre, known as analog horror, takes analog technology in a late 20th century setting and mixes it with elements of horror. 

Local 58

The first series to reach mainstream recognition is titled Local 58, a series created by Chris Straub. Its first video, “You Are On The Fastest Available Route,” was published on Halloween in 2017. It shows a black-and-white late night drive narrated by a GPS. The video then begins to cut to someone running, followed by the camera lying on the ground, as flames rage and the video glitches.

Much of the channel then follows the fictional Local 58 TV station throughout the decades, documenting the strange things occurring in Mason County, West Virginia. Most of these strange things surround the moon, and the effects are facilitated through both government and media corruption. 

The series preys on the fear that the media and the government have enough influence on the population to drive them to throw all caution to the wind and commit unspeakable acts against themselves and their loved ones. Furthermore, it preys on the fear of the unknown with its touches of cosmic and Lovecraftian horror.

Gemini Home Entertainment 

Taking this found-footage style of horror one step further is Remy Abode, with a series known as Gemini Home Entertainment. It tells its story through a mixture of PSAs, educational videos, commercials and home videos. Unlike Local 58, though, this one does not focus on government and media corruption. Rather, it combines body horror, Native American mythology and cosmic horror. 

They are combined through the overall storyline, which is about extraterrestrial creatures and Navajo monsters known as skinwalkers working together to take over the world by killing humanity and using them as vessels to take over the rest of the world. 

The horror of this series comes from the helplessness experienced by the victims of the beings in this series. They are at the complete mercy of eldritch beings and their proxies, and no one in the series is ever truly safe.

The Walten Files

This analog horror series blew up on social media during the middle of 2020 because of its more grounded approach to analog horror. Rather than taking a focus on government corruption or cosmic horror, it focuses on a select few people all connected to a restaurant by the name of Bon’s Burgers, which closed down due to a series of tragedies and disappearances surrounding the Walten and Kranken families. 

What makes this series scary is its use of familiarity and uncanniness. It uses old, slightly manipulated photographs of real locations to create a sense of familiarity in the way liminal spaces produce a sense of familiarity. Along with that, it taps into a sense of nostalgic familiarity through the parallels to Five Nights at Freddy’s with its use of animatronics in a Chuck E. Cheese-esque environment. 

On top of that, the creator, Martin Walls, created both cartoonish drawings and manipulated photographs of well-known people in order to cultivate photos of the characters, plunging them deep into the uncanny valley and creating a sense of unease. 

The Mandela Catalogue

Currently blowing up on both YouTube and TikTok is the Mandela Catalogue. Rather than following the more grounded approach of the Walten Files, creator Alex Kister takes this analog horror series into the exact opposite direction. 

It follows an alternate timeline in which the Devil and his demons overtook God and his angels at the beginning of time. Fast forward to the ‘90s, and these demons begin to torment humans by coming to them as “alternates,” or doppelgangers. However, these doppelgangers fall into three categories, ranging from identical copies of the individual to humanoid creatures with horrifically skewed features. 

This is one of the reasons the series is so scary. Like the Walten Files, the distorted photos are deep in the uncanny valley, creating a sense of unease. Furthermore, for those who grew up Christian, the use of religious themes, as well as the old-fashioned Bible cartoons, taps into a deep-seated religious fear, making the watcher incredibly uncomfortable. 

The Monument Mythos

One of the newest creators on the analog horror scene is Alex Casanas, creator of the Monument Mythos. This series takes cosmic horror and puts a conspiratorial twist on it. It follows the Arnoldson family through their investigation into alternate timelines and the strange things surrounding the national monuments. 

The lore of the series runs deep, as there are two timelines, eldritch beings known as “special trees” and a whole other alternate history. This alternate history, however, gives the series a semi-satirical feel. James Dean is the president in the alternate timeline, there’s a not-so-subtle dig at the ship the Evergiven getting stuck in the Suez Canal and George Washington is a canonical character. The series pokes fun at both current events and past analog horror series. 

However, this is balanced through its use of cosmic horror, conspiracy and paranoia that combine to create a sense of unease. Furthermore, the series isn’t just a string of jump scares like a lot of other online horror series. There’s a genuine buildup through all of the aforementioned elements that leave the viewer uncomfortable. 

@alicia_szcz 

as589820@ohio.edu 

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