Kickstopper: Monuments to Marble

by Arthur B

The Marble Hornets DVD Kickstarter eventually yielded a blu-ray of the whole series - but does it stand up five years after its initial burst of popularity?
This Kickstopper I’m kind of revisiting old ground; a while back I wrote an article about Marble Hornets and its most prominent imitators, back when they were still a reasonably hot new thing on Youtube. Now it’s half a decade later and the whole Slender Man thing has gone beyond cliche, and the original Marble Hornets web series has come to a conclusion and run a Kickstarter. Is this the last gasp of a spent force, or the beginning of something new? Only one way to find out...

Usual Note on Methodology

Just in case this is the first Kickstopper article you've read, there's a few things I should establish first. As always, different backers on a Kickstarter will often have very different experiences and I make no guarantee that my experience with this Kickstarter is representative of everyone else's. In particular, I'm only able to review these things based on the tier I actually backed at, and I can't review rewards I didn't actually receive.

At the end of the review, I'll be giving a judgement based on my personal rating system for Kickstarters. Higher means that I wish I'd bid at a higher reward level, a sign that I loved more or less everything I got from the campaign and regret not getting more stuff. Lower means that whilst I did get stuff that I liked out of the campaign, I would have probably been satisfied with one of the lower reward levels. Just Right means I feel that I backed at just the right level to get everything I wanted, whilst Just Wrong means that I regret being entangled in this mess and wish I'd never backed the project in the first place.

The Campaign

Run as the third and final season of Marble Hornets was drawing to a close, the baseline goal of the campaign was merely to fund the production of the season 3 DVD. DVDs of the first two seasons had been produced by the gang in conjunction with a third party out in LA, but over time the lack of direct creative control over the product, combined with being put in an awkward position over botched deliveries a few too many times, prompted the boys to realise the time had come to make things professional. Incorporating as THAC LLC (THAC being short for “Troy Has A Camera”, the name of the channel they publish their more comedic works on), the crew took control of their old stock and ran a Kickstarter in order to get operating capital to get the season 3 DVD out.

As stretch goals were passed, the project became more ambitious: first, it grew to incorporate the production of a 3-DVD boxed set of the complete series, including a completely redone season 1 DVD to give it a picture quality and revised audio commentary more consistent with the other two seasons, and then a run of replacement discs for those who bought the original season 1. Then the prospect of a fully HD blu-ray with the whole series and a bunch of additional extras became viable. As these new products became available, they were added to the reward tiers, helping the campaign consistently get new injections of money as people upgraded their backing level as things progressed.

Impressively, the boys resisted the temptation to do a whole bunch of extra bells and whistles in return for breaking additional stretch goals. (The only exception was the creation of a group of skits intended as excerpts from Alex Kralie’s Marble Hornets, the awful student film that the Operator’s interventions saved audiences worldwide from being subjected to.) Instead, they set a final stretch goal at $70,000 (which the funding blasted past in the end) at which point the funds received through the Kickstarter would not only fully fund the reward process, but also give them the budget for their next horror series (intended to run on the Marble Hornets channel despite being an entirely different story, presumably to take advantage of the existing channel’s high visibility and subscriber numbers). The fact that this new show is going to actually have a budget demonstrates that THAC have big professional-sounding plans for the future; the first major test of their professionalism, of course, would be in delivering the Kickstarter in the first place.

What Level I Backed At

The complete series BLU-RAY, signed by Troy Wagner, Joseph DeLage, and Tim Sutton, the poster, sticker, AND a Kickstarter exclusive Marble Hornets Tshirt.

The Delivery Process

The August 2014 target date THAC set themselves for reward delivery was insanely optimistic, but to give them their credit they admitted this very early on and gave more sensible estimates soon. In addition, they hit a very good balance when it came to providing updates, both in terms of their frequency and their content; their updates weren’t so frequent so as to become a nuisance, were never so infrequent as to create concern that the project had gone wrong, and invariably had enough content to give a picture of how things were progressing.

At the end of the day, the most delayed shipments were those including the blu-rays; this was a result of the gang underestimating just how different blu-ray authoring is from DVD production. However, the actual delivery process once the components were put together was entirely painless, with THAC actually bothering to include tracking numbers on the packages (which many Kickstarters I’ve been involved with haven’t bothered doing).

Reviewing the Swag

Marble Hornets: The Complete Series Blu-Ray

On balance, the end of Marble Hornets and the completion of this Kickstarter represents the end of an era. Not only does it involve the THAC principals stepping out from behind the veneer of reality previously established around the series (though to be fair they’ve always had to do so to a certain extent in order to sell the DVDs), but it also comes at a time in which the subculture Marble Hornets inspired is in a long decline.

A little history, for those who don’t have the time to read over my previous article on the Slenderman craze: back in the day there was a thread on the Something Awful forums dedicated to producing phony paranormal images. Troy Wagner had the bright idea of going one better and producing some paranormal videos, complete with plausible-sounding backstory, and with a bit of help from Joseph DeLage and other friends the early episodes (or “Entries”) of Marble Hornets were born. Whilst the adversary in Marble Hornets has been consistently referred to by THAC as “The Operator”, since they consider it distinct from Slenderman, the general idea of producing a video series about a Slenderman-like figure (combined with Slenderman creator Victor Surge’s tolerant approach to derivative works) led to a lot of series being produced with Marble Hornets as a primary inspiration.

In retrospect, it seems to me that Marble Hornets was not only the original Slenderman-inspired YouTube show, but it was also the best. Of the series which showed by far the best production values and gained the largest fanbases early on - Marble Hornets, EverymanHYBRID, and TribeTwelve, all three would soon find their updates becoming more and more erratic over time, due to their student creators’ schedules becoming increasingly packed. (Indeed, this seems to be an almost universal fate of any Slenderman-based series which isn’t brought to an early conclusion or outright abandoned by its creators.)

The major difference between Marble Hornets and the competition is that Marble Hornets has done much better at sticking to its creators’ long-term plan and bringing things to a satisfying conclusion. Both TribeTwelve and EverymanHYBRID incorporated various crossover episodes with other series - episodes which rarely provided much in the way of substantive progress in either series’ stories, but the logistics of which tended to delay progress - but even when they stopped doing that they both seemed to become bogged down to one extent or another. TribeTwelve has become perhaps a better showcase for its creator’s high-quality video-editing skills than a cohesive story as such (and the sudden addition of apparent time-travel elements to the plotline gives me grave concerns), whilst EverymanHYBRID, which was formerly notable for its multimedia approach and audience interaction, has found both of those aspects almost entirely drying up and the plotline slowing to an utter crawl.

Marble Hornets was not immune to long periods of downtime between episodes; nor was it immune to episodes which, on release at least, appeared to be mere filler. But it always seemed to be going somewhere, and more importantly it did eventually go somewhere, and that meant over time it was able to keep my attention better than the other two series could. TribeTwelve will probably come to an ending as and when its primary creator decides to pull the trigger on it; EverymanHYBRID’s recent reliance on filler episodes involving a fraction of the cast suggests profound behind-the-scenes problems with getting the crew together to actually shoot a plot-advancing episode, so I do find myself wondering whether they’ll ever be able to produce their intended ending for it. By this point, though, it would hardly seem to matter - whereas the end of Marble Hornets genuinely felt like the culmination of a long-term plan, at this stage ending either of the other series would feel like a mercy killing.

Whilst other new series would pop up here and there, ultimately none of them quite managed to overcome their origins as Marble Hornets pastiches - half owed too much to existing series to really have a niche of their own, and the other half relied too much on coming up with distinctive gimmicks to distance themselves from the rest of the pack, the series inevitably beginning to feel stale as the gimmick wore out its welcome. The fact is that it’s now some 5 years after Victor Surge and the early Marble Hornets episodes put Slenderman out there, and any pop culture figure meme is going to get stale in that time period.

The sense that this whole Slenderman thing just wasn’t fun any more was reiterated by a gruesome coincidence. On May 31st 2014 - which happened to be the penultimate day of the Kickstarter campaign - two teenage girls would infamously attempt to sacrifice a friend of theirs to Slenderman for real. Despite the scaremongering surrounding the online Slenderman mythology inspired by the crime, to a certain extent the perpetrators seem to have been mostly inspired by their own personal system of delusions that they happened to fit Slendy into. (The idea that he lives in a “forest mansion”, for instance, seems to be entirely original to them.) Nonetheless, it touched on the action of enough stories (including Marble Hornets) that at this stage it feels like it’s past time to give the character a rest - starting a new series at this point in time would not only continue to feed a niche market that’s already grossly oversaturated, but would also seem insensitive considering that the court case surrounding the stabbings is still ongoing.

It could be, then, that this blu-ray (and the corresponding DVDs and associated stickers and shirts and so on) may in the long term be the only physically tangible products that stand as evidence that this subculture existed. Oh, sure, there’s all the websites and YouTube series, but there’s no guarantees that any of those will remain accessible over the years. Part of my reason for wanting this blu-ray was because it’s just nice to know I’ll always have a chance to rewatch Marble Hornets, even if YouTube purges the old videos or undergoes some godawful format change which makes watching the episodes in their intended order a royal pain.

The three-season division of Marble Hornets is far from arbitrary (even though there’s nothing structural to YouTube which specifically demands a seasonal structure). Each has a different feel and emphasis, both as THAC’s filmmaking capabilities and acting skills blossomed over the course of the series and as the story evolved. The first season is essentially a YouTube adaptation of the classic epistolary horror story format with a beautifully simple setup: our narrator, Jay (Troy Wagner), was part of the crew of a (hilariously pretentious) student film entitled Marble Hornets, directed by Alex Kralie (Joseph DeLage), whose confidence in his vision tended to eclipse his actual competence. Filming eventually staggered to a halt with no finished product in sight, and some time later Jay learned that Alex intended to burn the tapes; begging him not to, he eventually got Alex to give them to him instead, on condition that Jay never brings up the matter with him again.

Some years later, Jay finally remembers the tapes and begins to watch them. As it turns out, many of them don’t relate to Alex’s film at all - Alex seemed to have taken to filming himself 24/7, with some decidedly erratic behaviour on display in those recordings at that. More disturbingly, the recordings displayed evidence of strange goings-on both in Alex’s life away from the set, and during the filming of Marble Hornets itself - including events which Jay himself has no memory of, despite the evidence of the tapes proving that he was present for them. And at the centre of these incidents is the strange, faceless figure of the Operator, who was apparently stalking the cast and crew of the film (and Alex in particular).

Even more disturbingly, the strangeness doesn’t seem to be over. As Jay posts more and more excerpts from the material to YouTube as Entries in his online journal of his investigation, his videos start getting replies in the form of enigmatic videos from a character known only as ToTheArk - videos which incorporate a range of secret messages and allusions, and may be the product of someone with access to the original Marble Hornets material. Moreover, Jay finds himself unable to contact Alex, or any of the other Marble Hornets team except for actor Tim (Tim Sutton), as well as being stalked by a mysterious masked figure - and the Operator itself.

The second season doesn’t have to undertake the work of introducing the concept, but it does have to deal with the mystery of what’s been going on in the months of downtime since the close of the first season. It opens with Jay waking up in a hotel room, with no memory of anything that happened in the downtime; as he tries to regain his bearings, he discovers that Jessica (Jessica May), the woman in the room next to his, is suffering from the same amnesia he is. Jessica disappears before the duo can investigate together - but in the wake of her disappearance Jay ends up with a stash of his own tapes (for he too has taken to filming himself constantly at this point), so that the rest of this season consists of a flashback filling in what happened between the end of season 1 and the beginning of season 2 - a time period in which Jay tracked down Alex and was in turn forced to work out whether Alex was a trustworthy co-investigator or an instigator of the horrors he’d been facing.

Season 3 begins with Jay finally having a lucky break in his investigation - he tracks down Tim, and whilst Tim doesn’t remember any of the masked, antagonistic activities he’s been up to for the past two seasons, he does recall being in possession of some of Alex’s Marble Hornets tapes. Tim’s tapes (along with events at the end of season 2) reveal a very different side to Alex from the tapes we saw in season one, which for the most part had been cherry-picked by Alex to give a particular take on what happened - however, being reminded of Marble Hornets prompts Tim to do a little Googling, at which point he discovers the YouTube channel and the weird stuff he’s been getting up to during the blackouts his psychiatric medication is supposed to control. As ToTheArk nudges Alex, Tim and Jay into a final confrontation, Jay and Tim need to learn to work together as an investigative unit and trust each other - and when that trust fails, tragedy strikes.

Over the course of these three seasons, THAC both explore the storytelling possibilities of the “epistolary YouTube” medium as well as work on developing their cast’s acting capabilities bit by bit. The first season focuses mostly on found footage material from the taping of Alex’s Marble Hornets and solo investigative jaunts on Jay’s part; the second season begins in the solo investigation mode and progresses to explore the tensions between Alex and Jay once they come back into each others’ orbit. The third season begins focusing on similar tensions between Tim and Jay, and the somewhat more successful team that they make - in the process of which circumstances cause Tim to become a co-narrator with Jay, with both of them posting videos to the main channel until only one of them is left to tell the end of the story.

In the first season it’s mostly Joseph DeLage’s acting capabilities that are tested - though Jay is helming the investigation, for the most part this involves walking about in locations filming stuff and occasionally commenting rather than acting on-camera. In his role as Alex, DeLage has to convey by far the widest emotional range at this point - from the early phases of filming Marble Hornets, where Alex is a basically likeable guy whose overblown ideas about just how good his student film is don’t quite cross the line into full-blown arrogance, to the later stages where his hunting by the Operator has made him irritable and aggressive and a royal pain to work with, to the private videos where his growing fear and loosening grip on things are terribly obvious. To give him credit, DeLage hits just the right note each time, though clever editing and well-chosen scenes also give him plenty of help. (For example, one of the best indications you get early on of just how cracked Alex’s behaviour has become is in one of the early compilations of his 24/7 filming-himself tapes, in which there’s a brief sequence of him filming himself buying film to film himself with.)

Troy Wagner’s own acting as Jay becomes more prominent in season 2, since for a large part it involves Jay turning away from the solo investigative approach that had dominated the first season and collaborating with Alex and, separately, with Jessica to try and get answers. DeLage’s limitations as an actor become a bit more apparent here, though part of the issue is that he’s only really operating in one gear for this season (“mysterious/untrustworthy”) rather than being asked to show the range he did previously, whilst Jessica May as a professional actress does a decent job playing an ordinary person plunged into an extraordinary situation. Wagner, however, is the real star player this time, mostly for how he’s able to get across just how endearingly inept Jay is as an occult investigator. One of the best examples of this comes early in the season, when Jessica asks Jay why he’s constantly filming everything; his hilariously limp excuse demonstrates that he just hasn’t given any thought to a cover story, and he never really gets much better at answering that question over the rest of the series.

Jay just plain not being suited to this sort of thing is an interesting writing decision on the part of THAC, but there’s a ring of verisimilitude to it which I quite like. Whilst in many stories the protagonist often finds hidden reserves, or finds themselves becoming accustomed to the life their situation has forced them to live, there’s simply no point during the series where Jay gains the stability which would be necessary to actually get a routine together and start sorting out best practice. It also suits the horror themes of the series - in particular, the Operator isn’t really the sort of thing you can deal with, because its extradimensional capabilities and the strange phenomena surrounding it aren’t really something you can get used to or train yourself to cope with.

This becomes the major theme of the third season, in which Tim Sutton reveals himself to be perhaps the best actor of the core trio. Having mostly acted as a mute antagonist (conceivably under some sort of supernatural mind control) during the previous seasons, the third season finds Tim trying to team up with Jay, as well as going into how until Jay had stirred all this up again Tim’s psychiatric medication had in fact been helping him to live a calm, Operator-free life. Tim’s outrage at discovering what’s really been going on (via his discovery of the show’s YouTube channel, no less) is particularly well-conveyed, as is his friendly concern as Jay begins to show symptoms of impending breakdown.

Tim’s attempts to manage the Operator like an illness, and Jay paying the ultimate price for his investigative obsessions, neatly bifurcate the story as the last few entries are approached, as THAC play with the first-person YouTube format by having both Jay and Tim uploading entries. It also feeds into the ambiguous ending to the series, carefully crafted so that if you want to interpret it as the last remaining survivor buying into Alex’s baseless, deranged theory about how to stop the Operator, you can, or you can alternatively interpret it as them making the decision to simply walk away, take appropriate medication, try to forget what has happened as best as they can and (perhaps most importantly) stop filming.

Personally, I greatly prefer the latter interpretation. THAC correctly recognise that, by the very nature of the series they’d set up, the only way the story could come to an end is for the primary characters to definitively decide to stop filming and uploading material. With a more conventional story, or even with a more common-or-garden horror antagonist, you could conceivably reach a point where the big bad has been defeated; however, the very nature of the Operator, as presented so far, doesn’t really allow for that. It hasn’t shown any particular weaknesses, except that when Tim takes his medicine the Operator doesn’t seem to bother him so much, and the series is so consistent about not providing any solid evidence of where it comes from, what it wants, how it does what it does and how it can be slowed down, that any theory arrived at is pure, utter conjecture (which in the end is Alex’s fatal error).

As such, there’s no way the series could end with the Operator being defeated - not without betraying all that had come before - and so the only possible conclusion is a torn-off page, the narrators either becoming unable to continue to narrate or actively choosing to stop narrating. For our final narrator to buy into Alex’s theory would mean they had learned nothing, and I trust them a little more than that. The alternative forces them to accept that the Operator is this entirely arbitrary, nonsensical thing, which can’t have neat little rules imposed on it, and that the only true solution to the issue is to take your medicine and ignore it. Not only does this mean that Jay’s long investigation has ultimately accomplished nothing, but it also means that it could never have accomplished anything, and that blissful ignorance was always the way to go. The final shot of the series is a title card reading “Everything Is Fine”. You know damn well that it isn’t - but you also know that there’s no point disputing it either. That’s Thomas Ligotti levels of bleak right there.

As far as the Blu-Ray presentation goes, you have the option of either watching a season straight through, with all the Entries and ToTheArk videos in the order they were published, or picking out individual episodes to watch. One thing which the presentation doesn’t quite get across, due to their lack of title cards, is the fact that the ToTheArk videos were extra pieces originally published on a different YouTube channel; a few between-entries title cards to explain the context of the upcoming video would be handy in this respect. (There is a reproduction of the Twitter timeline for each season, which mostly puts each entry in context, but jumping back and forth between this and the individual videos would be fiddly in the extreme.)

At the same time, the selection of special features, behind-the-scenes footage, and commentary tracks are a real treat. The commentary tracks are perhaps my favourites here; Troy, Joseph and Tim are all very personable sorts with a good personal chemistry, who are able to make the commentary entertaining just as they rake over various points of interest in the production of the series. On top of that, the stretch goal-funded extracts from Alex Kralie’s Marble Hornets are dead-on parodies of indie student films, right down to the slack attitude to continuity and the tendency of the script to flip-flop between the outright banal and the wannabe-profound.

What the blu-ray really lends itself to, better even than YouTube, is binge-watching of whole chunks of the show at once, and there's an extent to which it benefits from being watched in that fashion. In particular, whilst for the most part season 1 was presented as happening in "real time", the connection between out-of-story time and in-story time became more and more tenuous as the series progressed. This is alluded to in the commentary, Joseph pointing out that long delays between Entries, whilst harmful to suspension of disbelief, were a nuisance which the audience would only have to endure once, whereas rushing out a third-rate entry purely for the sake of getting some new material out there would put a blot on the series that mar it forever; in the long run I think that this was the right call, and I find that, as fun as it was to digest the show in little breadcrumbs when it first came out, in retrospect it flows much better in larger chunks.

Poster, Sticker, Shirt

The poster goes on a wall, the shirt goes on my belly, the sticker goes on anything it likes; they have fun designs and they do what they are intended to do; in short, they’re nice to have, but I wouldn’t have gone for them in the absence of the Blu-Ray.

Higher, Lower, Just Right or Just Wrong?

This is easy enough - I like having the Blu-Ray, I like having the shirt, the only cheaper ways to get the Blu-Ray would have involved not getting the shirt, so on balance I think my backing level was Just Right, particularly considering the five years of otherwise entirely free horrortainment the THAC crew had given me prior to the Kickstarter happening.

Would Back Again?

No, absolutely not. Despite having a great experience with this Kickstarter, it transpires that Troy ended up mishandling THAC's funds and the core trio have split up, with Joseph and Tim mostly cutting ties with Troy. I've tried to piece together the story here, if you are interested, but in summary at this stage I would be reluctant to give Troy additional money unless and until he gave really convincing evidence that he would handle it correctly and treat his hired help right in future.

(Here is what I originally wrote here, in case you are interested:
That greatly depends on what they next choose to Kickstart; I find the comedy material on the THAC channel a bit hit and miss, though on the other hand it also doesn’t seem very likely they’ll give much of it the DVD treatment. The next likely Kickstarter is probably going to involve whatever their new horror series is. Apparently we are on the verge of finding this out; in particular, this video was shown at a convention purporting to cover a behind-the-scenes planning meeting, but what it degenerates into feels like a teaser for the next series. Once again, video glitches and the aesthetic appeal of VHS technology seems to be involved, whilst the “44” logo has suggested to many a public access TV format. Whilst this doesn’t fall far from the format of Marble Hornets - “extracts from a haunted public access TV channel” and “extracts from a haunted student film” being fairly similar ground - at the same time, the found footage format works really nicely on YouTube, and I am eager to see what they do with the higher budget they’ve been able to enjoy through this Kickstarter and their Patreon.)

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Comments (go to latest) at 00:25 on 2015-04-12
When I started reading this I was going to say that I couldn't think why you'd want to watch Marble Hornets on dvd or blu-ray, but your description of the experience sounds interesting and if nothing else those commentary tracks seem worth having.

I actually haven't watched all the way through the series. The first season will always have a special place in my heart due to the brain-searing fear and paranoia it caused in me across multiple re-watches (I genuinely feel the producers tapped into some raw vein in the human psyche that no other horror property had discovered yet) but the second season seemed to devolve into a lot of aimless filler material and I ended up dropping it. Now that I know the story was concluded definitively I might go back for another binge-watch, just as soon as I'm in a situation where I don't need to sleep for a few days.

In regards to Slenderman as a whole, I can see why the idea took off the way it did but I think it was doomed by its nature to result in a tiny handful of worthwhile fiction (some of the early blog-based slenderman stories were pretty good) and a whole lot of repetitive crap. The entire appeal of the character lay in its complete and total ambiguity, with all of the effective stories portraying it as some kind of utterly incomprehensible *thing* that attaches itself to people for no reason; the problem with that setup is that it can't go anywhere. Either you start giving concrete answers to Slenderman's nature, in which case he loses his appeal, or you keep the mystery going and the story stagnates. I feel like EverymanHYBRID ran headlong into this trap by seemingly promising answers, then struggling mightily to actually come up with satisfying ones.

Last time I checked in on the hardcore Slenderman fandom, just as it was starting to fall from its apex, a lot of the fiction being produced had devolved into goofy urban fantasy with super-powered characters having Dragonball Z fights. That was basically my cue to say "I'm done", although I can't deny that I've been waiting for something else like this to come along again (Jeff the killer did not scratch the itch on account of being terrible). In my more optimistic moments I view the Slenderman phenomenon and Marble Hornets specifically as early spasms of a new kind of horror that can only be created on the internet, and I hope I'm not deluding myself with that.

Arthur B at 01:11 on 2015-04-12
The first season will always have a special place in my heart due to the brain-searing fear and paranoia it caused in me across multiple re-watches (I genuinely feel the producers tapped into some raw vein in the human psyche that no other horror property had discovered yet) but the second season seemed to devolve into a lot of aimless filler material and I ended up dropping it.

FWIW, I think season 2 ended up going a bit slack because they realised they couldn't keep up the frenetic pace of scares they managed in the first season and also needed to do some character generation stat. The balance between talky bits and horrors is much better in season 3, which includes some of the absolute best editing and special effects the series or its millions of imitators have ever managed to produce.

As far as filler goes, I'd be willing to make an argument that in retrospect, nothing in Marble Hornets season 2 or 3 really constitutes filler, although there were points when the series was originally running when it did look that way. Everything is relevant and has a purpose, it's just that the purpose isn't always directed at developing the central mystery as such (and indeed as it goes on it becomes more apparent that the central mystery is specifically unapproachable).

The entire appeal of the character lay in its complete and total ambiguity, with all of the effective stories portraying it as some kind of utterly incomprehensible *thing* that attaches itself to people for no reason; the problem with that setup is that it can't go anywhere.

This is exactly why MH has its shift in gear between season 1 and seasons 2 and 3; THAC realised that if they were going to tell a satisfying story it needed to be a story about Tim and Jay and Alex as people who've encountered Slenderman, rather than a story directly about Slenderman himself, because as you point out there's no actual story you can tell there which doesn't suck the mystery out of it.

In my more optimistic moments I view the Slenderman phenomenon and Marble Hornets specifically as early spasms of a new kind of horror that can only be created on the internet, and I hope I'm not deluding myself with that.

I think precisely because of the Internet-based focus of the medium you are going to tend to get a lot of imitators and free-riders on successful ideas, to an extent where you end up with people coming up with ideas where I think "Oh, oh no, oh why did you have to put Slenderman in there?"

Example: Dark Days, a series which has just started up. The core premise is that for the entirety of February 2015 the Sun never came up and things increasingly went to shit over that time period, but nobody remembers except the person posting these videos because they recorded the evidence on their camera (and they presumably escaped whatever process screwed over all the other video evidence from that month). By itself, that's a really neat idea for an original, offbeat YouTube series that could go in all sorts of different directions whilst at the same time being nicely self-contained (since you've set yourself an upper limit of how much time your story is going to cover).

However, the trailer for the series makes it clear that it's Slenderman bullshit with an unconvincing Slenderman. What a fucking waste.
Arthur B at 16:56 on 2015-08-04
For those interested in getting in on the ground floor: after a few months of teases apparently designed to pique the interest of those who liked Marble Hornets (summarised here), THAC have now put out the first episode of their new series. Pretty enigmatic at the moment but word is that updates will be a little smoother than with MH so hopefully we'll start to see the bigger picture soon.
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