Note: contains spoilers for web series Local58
I hate opening with statistics – unless of course, they’re jaw-dropping. In its first month, a recent found footage video called The Backrooms hit a staggering 15M views after its upload to YouTube. That’s a reach of roughly half a million hits every day. And let’s bear in mind, this isn’t the latest drop from Ariana Grande, or MrBeast putting mainstream entertainment to shame through sheer blood, sweat and production spend. This is found footage horror, a genre that in the internet’s early days was, prior to the zeitgeist smash hit that was the Blair Witch Project, a frail novelty. Even after Blair Witch’s cult success, found footage eventually came to be regarded as something that Gen-Xers and Millennials would eventually just get over. Everyone would just go back to making horror the good-old-fashioned way, surely. And many did. But the internet has never been good at following norms, or conforming to predictions, for that matter. Found footage hasn’t been relegated merely to late-90s-early-00s shelves as many might have assumed – it simply found a new home.
Though there is, of course, still much love and nostalgia for the origins of found footage, it is Gen-Z that has given it fresh new robes, made it their unsettling internet king, and dubbed it analog horror. A great identifier that it is predominantly Gen-Z behind the wheel is that Kane Parsons, the original uploader of The Backrooms, is himself only 16 years old. To think that a 16-year-old created one of most convincing, super-slick pieces of content the genre has to offer is a testament to how invested teens and young adults are into pouring their oozing creativity into this spanking-new genre. Considering that your correspondent here is more than double Kane’s age, it’s nothing short of inspiring.