During the ages of the early internet, we had one or two legendary creepypastas (horror-related legends) or creatures that haunted the internet, with the slender man being the most notorious. As culture has continued to evolve on the web, communities and prompts born out of times of unrest have spurred new horror-themed lore and visuals, not just tied to the subject of fearing tech, but one’s like nostalgia, isolation, religion, and the incoherency of the overwhelming jam of information we consume.
1. Backrooms/ Liminal Spaces
Earlier this year, A24 announced that it was adapting into film a short series on Youtube called “Backrooms,” to be directed by seventeen-year-old Kane Parsons. The premise stems from the widespread trend of liminal spaces and “backrooms”, which are spaces you could accidentally slip into that are usually places from the memory of a familiar past and full of people, except, a void-like version lacking any signs of life. It characterizes it as comforting yet uncanny, frozen, and stuck in time. This has sparked an interest in exploring creepy and abandoned spaces once again, with the hashtag “urbanexploring” gaining over 1.7 billion views on TikTok and 2 million posts on Instagram. The explorers specifically target eerier structures like churches, hospitals, or carnivals and are on the lookout for any signs alluding to some dark activity underway.
2. Five Nights at Freddy’s
Another internet lore, Five Nights at Freddy’s (originally a video game), has been picked for a three-part movie deal, with the first coming out on the 27th of October, right before Halloween. The franchise includes animatronics that have children’s souls trapped in them. They come alive and wreak havoc at night.
3. Skibidi- Toilet
On YouTube, kids have their own creepypasta of sorts. The morphed figure of animated toilets with spider legs and human heads that stretch out, called Skibidi-toilet, appears in a series of shorts set in post-apocalyptic, incomprehensible settings. Every episode features Skibidi-Toilet, along with humans in suits with TVs or speakers for heads, hunting you down with frenetic eyes and half-erased smiles on their faces.
The series has grown so popular that there are now more than 20 seasons and 65 episodes. It lacks any storyline and references the same chain of events in every video, yet it has racked up nearly 29 million subscribers on YouTube. While the consistency of the plot and the frequenting symbols of authority creatures, surveillance, technology, worn-down cities, and violence suggest even a deeper critique of today’s internet society, it is kids who are the most drawn to the grotesque series. Hearing my six-year-old cousin passionately cite it as his favorite pastime was a bizarre moment.
4. Ganji Chudail
In recent times, India has introduced its own lore-d character, “Ganji Chudail”. She is green, like the legendary Shrek, and wears a red blouse and the classic white saree. Although antagonized in all her stories (mostly her terrorizing villagers, being bored, and wanting to eat), she has risen up as a bit of an iconic figure of female rage and vacancy. Viewers have expressed how they are addicted to the series, often scrolling through it late at night. Many even relate to the her, who, after all, is just a flawed but entirely likeable character, considering all aspects.
5. Internet psychosis
This phenomenon is far too familiar. The condition of psychosis is characterized by social withdrawal, loss of interest in other activities, use of the internet to escape dysphoric moods, and functional impairment, according to Psych Scene Hub. The loss of reality has already been a gripping plot line in many-a-media, but combined with the evolving technology propelling to new heights, it could put to screen a relatable and imminent fear creeping up our backs.
In the wake of climate change bringing back to life viruses and organisms from ages past and surreal advancements in technology, people online have been speculating the existence of new creatures, besides the Bigfoot or Nessie. The Mothman and the Goatman are examples of such creatures; the suspicions of who’s lurking started first on the internet. There are now communities working together to hunt down these creatures, with even a name for the science of their activity, “Cryptozoology”.
7. Red Mist Squidward (viewer discretion advised)
This meme was born from a creepypasta of an episode that never aired in season four of SpongeBob. The user who uploaded the story was an intern at Nickelodeon at the time. He had requested to watch an episode called “Fear of the Krabby Patty”. However, when they actually watched it, the title had been changed to something much more morbid. Thinking it was a running joke among the animators, they decided to continue, only to witness horrific and violent imagery and unnatural sound effects.
8. The expressionless
In this classic creepypasta, a woman in a white gown stumbles into a hospital, covered in blood. What is most off-putting about her is that her expressionless face seemed lifeless, much like a mannequin, but her movement and mannerisms were those of a human. The doctors could not fathom what or who they were working with.
9. Loab/AI Art
Arising in 2022, amidst the skyrocketing of AI art, Loab was an incomprehensible union of different human features, taking on the overall shape of an older woman. It was “created” by Twitter user @supercomposite and gained traction when the AI-generated image was used as a prompt to create more. When her image was used as a base, the results were always horrifying faces and gruesome settings, emerging from the already uneasy picture. The ability of AI to always reproduce her inscrutable likeness, better than reproducing even real people, sparked conversations around the imaginations and potentials around the storytelling of AI.
10. Robert the doll
Robert the doll falls into the same category as Annabelle, that which is actually a powerful and demonic entity disguised as a child’s plaything. The doll is real and sits in the East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida, and people have reported the usual antics, shuffling and giggling, footsteps in the attic, and changing expressions. He even has fans that send him gifts and letters asking for advice or hexes on enemies.
As new creepy pastas and tales spawn, internet culture may just be the future of the horror genre.