Creepy Things That Seem Real But Aren’t is a new series that explores modern urban legends, bringing you a new tale each week.
Well, well, well. Back for more, are we? Let’s see what I’ve got for you this time. How does the tale of a filmmaker driven mad by his work sound? What if I told you that his work was floating around out there, ripe for the viewing by unsuspecting Internet users? And what if I told you that we haven’t quite seen the last of our friend Slender Man? Shall I go on? Welcome to:
THE MARBLE HORNETS PROJECT
Shortly after Slender Man surfaced into the collective unconscious, Something Awful user ce gars posted a tale of his own. He told the forums of a friend of his from film school– Alex Kralie– who had stumbled upon something troubling while shooting his first feature-length project. The project itself was called Marble Hornets, and it is from this that the Marble Hornets Project draws its name. After about two months of on and off shooting, Alex apparently abruptly halted shooting and dropped the project completely. He became a recluse and the footage sat in his attic gathering dust– until ce gars, real name Jay, convinced him to let him come over and check up on him. He asked what Alex planned to do with the tapes. “Burn them,” Alex said. Somehow, Jay talked Alex into letting him have the tapes; Alex agreed only with the understanding that Jay would never, ever bring up the tapes with him again. Ever. Shortly after, Alex transferred to an out-of-state school, and Jay hadn’t heard from him since. That was roughly five years ago, during which time Jay held onto the tapes, but curiously never watched them. Then, when the talk of Slender Man began in 2009, he unearthed them, posted his story, and told us that he would inform us of anything he found of interest contained within the Marble Hornets footage.
Three days later, he posted this:
It spread like wildfire. Jay continued posting entries as he found more and more unusual occurrences, eventually beginning to record his own attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery. Later on, a mysterious entity called totheark joined the party as well, leaving strange and troubling responses to Jay’s videos.
Creepy, yes; but real? Nope.
The Marble Hornets Project found its basis in the Slender Man tale before spinning off into what’s known as an Alternate Reality Game, or ARG. ARGs are interactive narratives that use the real world as their playing field, entertaining the “what if?” ideas that drive so many other creators of fiction. They also tend to use the “This Is Not A Game” aesthetic; that is, the world created by the game should be as real as possible. Any phone numbers mentioned should actually work, locations should be real… you get the idea. It’s about total immersion, and if you let it take you away with it, it can be pretty convincing. Marble Hornets functions mostly on YouTube, though ARGs are by no means limited to that platform. Anything is fair game. [tagbox tag="Creepy Things That Seem Real But Aren't"]
I’ve watched a handful of other Slender Man-inspired ARGs, but Marble Hornets is by far the best of the bunch, largely because it’s so well constructed. Some entries may only be 30 seconds long; others may be 8 minutes long. The thing it gets so right is never giving you anything more than what you absolutely need at any given point, laying out the story with remarkable precision. The first 26 entries of it were so successful as to see a DVD release as “Season 1″ of the project, and Season 2 is well under way even now. Want to know the whole story? You can view all of Marble Hornets on its YouTube channel, and check out totheark while you’re at it. There’s also an in-game Twitter you can follow, @MarbleHornets.
I do, however, recommend watching the videos during the daylight hours, preferably in non-wooded areas.