Shocking web series Marble Hornets is indicative of modern transmedia

by Emma Claire Goodman

If like me you have an addiction to spending way too much time on the internet looking at memes, you have probably already heard of Slenderman. If not, you are in for a delightfully spooky treat.

Slenderman is an internet-generated urban myth. Atypical of most folklore, however, his origins are easily illuminated. On June the 8th 2009, the infamous online forums, Something Awful launched a “paranormal pictures” photoshopping contest, wherein one user, known only as Victor Surge created this post, detailing a tall and thin silhouette, wearing a black suit, but no discernable facial features, and sinewy limbs that can apparently lengthen at its will. Shortly afterward, Victor Surge continued expanding upon his new mythos, and the character rapidly began gaining popularity on other websites and forums. Now, nearly two years later, Slenderman has since perhaps surpassed meme-dom, becoming the focus of pictures, fictional stories and videos about “him”.

Enter Troy Wagner and Joseph DeLage, filmmakers based in Alabama who saw, and seized the potential to make something more than a couple creepy pictures. With a team of only ten or so people, a video camera, and some mighty fine video, audio, and lighting manipulation, their on-going series Marble Hornets has several fans claiming that they can’t sleep at night. All of the videos are shot from a first-person perspective (similar to The Blair Witch Project), completely drawing the viewer in, inviting them to watch and wait, sitting on the edge of their seat, even as characters explore an abandoned house for a good seven minutes, the whole time expecting to see Slenderman rush on screen and attack.

What is especially fascinating about this entire project is how Victor Surge, Wagner, and DeLage have been able to hijack the Internet and technology, truly utilizing modern media, to tell a riveting story that has truly affected people. The Slenderman phenomenon actually created a new urban legend through internet forums, and people finding it amusing enough to pass on.  

Image from Marble Hornets Entry #19

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