The Scariest Things Episode 165: Social Media Horror

Fangoria! Woo!

When I was asked if there were any new trends in horror movies, I could say with complete confidence: Social Media Horror. Quite clearly this is a type of horror made available largely within the last fifteen years, dating back to the formal introduction of the iPhone back in 2007. True, cell phones and the internet have been effective communication devices since the ’90s but social media influencing is a creature of the 2010s and beyond. (Though The Net and Fear.com gave us an early preview of what was to come… those films were based on PC’s with CRT monitors. Old School!)

The desire, and the ability to jump from anonymity to fame, (in which we at the Scariest Things are ironically self-aware), has led to all sorts of abusive and downright scary conditions. Often, the protagonists in these exercises are narcissistic wanna-bes or abjectly lonely people trying to make a connection through the treacherous maze of the internet.

Oddly, it also manages to push the horror as something indirect. It usually isn’t the device itself, ala The Ring, but rather it is a conduit to shady and dangerous people. In a way, it is indirect horror. If the ’90s and ’00s were the domain of tumbling around a picture frame with the shaky cam-found footage trend, this new delivery of horror puts you up very close to the protagonists, who are usually looking at their screens up close… ready for their ZOOM or YouTube moment.

Perhaps the most successful, and most clever, use of this trope is Host. which might be the perfect distillation of the loneliness and dread we all went through during the Pandemic of 2020. Everybody had to use ZOOM to interact with friends and family, and the remarkable adoption of video conferencing applications made us all aware of the elements of a ZOOM call. That familiarity allowed that little movie to punch way above its weight class.

A film that was not yet released that we have seen at The Overlook Film Festival 2023 was Accused, which managed to perfectly capture the scariness of an angry digital mob and what they are capable of. It is a highly recommended watch as soon as it gets released.

Pardon the geezery tendencies of The Scariest Things. A lot of the material here is geared toward Millenials and Gen Z, but we recognize the directions and trends of the genre, and we are definitely seeing Media Influence as a big theme for the upcoming years. The life-consuming quality of the smartphone has its sights set squarely on horror movies now. Tune into Episode 165 to hear your podcast hosts try and deal with this new reality!

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