I've been thinking a lot how our lives have all changed with social media. I check my iPhone constantly. On the train to work, waiting for my food, on the shitter (yeah you do it, don't lie).
I'm pretty sure 95% of the people who are reading this are on Facebook. I'm betting 60% are on Twitter. Maybe 30% on Foursquare.
The funny part is that our horror movies don't reflect this. Every new horror movie you see, some poor soon to be dead schmuck is still on his Nokia flip phone. OK maybe I'm exaggerating as iPhones and Droids have popped up and touchscreens are the new cool phone (if there are appropriate product placement dollars anted up). But I figure that horror movies have always pushed the boundaries of being creative. Horror has always gone over the edge be it in their tolerance for gore or via nudity. It's the one genre where gimmicks can be experimented with to see how an audience will react.
So if I had my own studio, I'd start to try out new gimmicks. There have been preliminary attempts to incorporate social media into horror. Check out this pilot concept via Germany called Last Call where users would submit their number and one of the characters would call a random person in the theater asking for help. It's a different concept where a midnight crowd would have fun with. But I'd take it a step further.
Why not intertwine all 5 social media sites into your movie? Blend in real life with fiction. If you're thinking this sounds like an ARG (alternate reality game) you're not to far off. So I've listed below the benefits of how we could blend Web 2.0 into a horror movie. Of course this won't succeed without an actual awesome plot, colorful and interesting characters and kill scenes that are creative and inventive. And if it's a slasher film, we'll need a standout slasher with an aura of mystery. But look at the benefits these social media sites could offer. Here is what I would do.
the jaded viewer says: OK not really a social media site, playing an ARG say on the official site would set the stage months before the release date of the movie. This has worked well with video games and movies already so its proven it drives interest into your film. This would be way above EA's Majestic but more in line with what ABC did with Lost or WB's The Dark Knight.
Say in order to solve a cryptic message from our killer, players had to go to real life places all around a major city or around the web. Sites would be created solely to make an intricate web of direction and misdirection. Back story could be filled in via fake sites and news articles.
The best thing an ARG does is to mix real world with fake world. Flyers in one city with a clue or a billboard in another city with another clue would build up hype like nothing that's ever been done before. An ARG is perfect for a horror movie, plain and simple.
the jaded viewer says: Obviously fake Facebook profiles are all the rage. Tons of movies have done them to create interest for their flicks. A Facebook page is one thing, but the creation of Facebook profiles and their friends from the movie would make it all seem to eerily real. This plays into the ARG of it all and tons of cool shit could be done. Weird Facebook messages left on our characters walls weeks before the "supposed events of the movie". That's some solid ARG-ing. Photos of said people would probably add some love to our characters (or fuel hatred for the haters). In any case, Facebook has to play a part in this because of its massive reach.
The best part is that you could add them as a friend and comment on their status updates. I mean obviously the Internet would be fueled by racist and dumb comments (its gonna happen) but for the people who want to play along, it's kinda cool.
the jaded viewer says: Obviously viral videos will play a part in intertwining our movie with our ARG. Footage of our characters or mock crime footage would play an appropriate part in getting the viewer intrigued. But I would take it a step further.
Just like the Last Call gimmick, I'd show a scene where our characters "discover" the footage online and the only way to see it is to go online and check it out. This would happen while watching the movie. OK OK. I know what your saying. Use your phone during a movie? WTF DUDE!!!
First the 3G would crazy explode (here's hoping WIFI can be installed in the theater). Plus who wants to fuckin start YouTubing during the movie. It's dark, its annoying and people are gonna get upset they have to do this. I'm thinking the same thing.
But KNOWING this is part of the movie would give it a cult film-ish feel. Like you're playing a part in the movie. I'm thinking you maybe could download this video before you go to the theater to avoid the massive bandwidth issues. Think if the views this video would get during each screening. I mean somebody could watch the video before they see the flick. It wouldn't make sense without any context but I'm sure a majority would go in to see the film blind and adhere to the social media rules.
It's only a problem if somebody doesn't want to play along and I think it's kinda fun to get to watch what the characters are watching and somehow piecing it all together.
the jaded viewer says: The new kid on the block. How can checking into places be scary? Well by possibly leaving traces of where our characters are in relation to say the killer. I'm not Foursquare user but I figure somehow we can bleed Foursquare into real life locations. Maybe even use it to make fake locations where viewers can follow where our characters have been. It would also add a level of suspense by our killer or killers.
Killer X is now the mayor of the Leatherface Chainsaw factory.
Johnny Victim unlocked the "Being a douchebag" badge.
Clearly, I'm not really thinking this out to much but I'm sure we can make location play a factor into our movie.
the jaded viewer says: Clearly, this would be the apex of all social media tools to use in a horror movie. Viewers would follow the characters or the killer or whoever to see what they may be tweeting. And the thing is it would be a silent partner. What does that mean?
At different points in the flick, maybe during some discovery or tense scene, you'd have to check a characters Twitter account to see what's the what. The stuff happening on Twitter might be something happening off camera. I'd even go as far as when the movie premiered, it would be a live Twitter feed. I'm sure it would be hard to not check out the Twitter feed before the movie premiered. Maybe add a few tweets creating some pre-story and having that intertwine with the ARG, Facebook, YouTube and Foursquare elements.
Twitter's real timey-ness makes it a perfect tool to merge social media with horror.
Now that I think of it, this is either the best idea I've ever had or the worst. Tweet me what you think.