The story is this:
In 2006, student filmmaker Alex Kralie was shooting a film called Marble Hornets when, seemingly out of nowhere, he cancelled the production and left town. A friend, Jay, then tracked him down a while after to see what had happened. Alex was reluctant to discuss the details, but gave Jay a bag of tapes, instructing him to “burn them.” Jay took them home and forgot about them, then in 2009 started watching the tapes to see if anything interesting could be found on them.
It soon transpires that Alex was being followed…and from there it got a lot worse.
I won’t explain how the Slender Man mythos came into being; a much more accurate account can be found here. Marble Hornets itself started out as part of that mythos (and is certainly one of the more successful takes on what is still a relatively new phenomenon) but has since moved a little way away from the character’s origins.
Marble Hornets as a series is something truly remarkable; you can throw as much money into a movie as you want, but this series is testament to the fact that the strongest thing in creating fear is having a good idea and knowing how to execute it well. And the simplest truth to come out of the series is this: it’s terrifying.
While there are some entries that will have your pulse racing, Marble Hornets is at its strongest when it’s building up a palpable sense of dread, which it does often, and incredibly well. And it stays with you once you’ve finished watching; it’s a truly unique experience of paranoia, and all from a webseries that was made by a few guys with some spare time and a good idea.
The Slender Man (or Operator as he is defined in the series) is a horribly enigmatic character, and in the first series, he doesn’t do anything. Just the simple fact that he is there is terrifying, and while that might sound mundane or anticlimactic, I can assure you it’s not. And it certainly doesn’t stay that way; the second series has a much more active villainy on his (and other’s) parts.
I really don’t want to give away any of the story points, or spoil any of the scares, so I’m going to simply leave you with a few points as to why you should watch it.
- It’s available for free on YouTube.
- It’s spectacularly creepy; a definite must for “lights off” viewing.
- There are certain points where I (literally) dove under my covers in fright.
- It’s short; the longest episode has so far only just been over 15 minutes, and most clock in under 5, so it won’t take up too much of your time.
The series is distributed on YouTube, and if you want to check it out, you can start with the first video here.
I also happen to own the DVDs, which are put together quite nicely. The commentaries are worth listening to (Season 1 consists of the lads behind the show getting hammered and cracking jokes, while Season 2 is more like a traditional commentary though still entertaining) and it’s particularly handy having the “totheark” responses play in order without needing to jump around in the chronology of the videos.
If you’re interested they’re available (very cheaply, even with international shipping) from here.
*The poster at the top of this page is not an official Marble Hornets poster – I found it on google images and thought it was cool. Clicking it will take you to the source.
ADDITIONAL MINI-REVIEW: Slender (2012)
Earlier this year, a small game appeared online called Slender. It’s become wildly popular, and rightly so, as one of the most terrifying video gaming experiences around, and again, is testament to a simple idea being executed supremely well. You play a (seemingly female?) protagonist, alone in a dark woods with only a camera and a flashlight, and instructed to find 8 pages.
The moment you find the first page, you start getting stalked by the Slender Man. With each additional page, his grasp on you closes a little tighter, until you’ll find yourself sprinting through the woods in a disoriented frenzy of discombobulation and terror. It’s no surprise that there are so many videos on YouTube of people playing the game and screaming their lungs out.
The simplicity of the game’s setup lends the game to an almost immediate immersion, and limitations such as the amount of time you (can’t) sprint really ramp up the horror. It essentially takes its cues from Marble Hornets (the pages are styled the same as Alex Kralie’s scrawlings) and it is fantastically scary, and a nice addition if you’re a Marble Hornets fan. Even if you aren’t, it’s worth checking out.
And like Marble Hornets, it’s an utterly terrifying experience that’s available for free.
It can be downloaded for Mac or PC users here.
Go to the shower block first. Always. Trust me on this one – shower block first.