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6 Social Media-Inspired Horror Films

By Carmen Potts

Oh, the inherent horrors of social media! Over the last couple of decades, the advent of “connection tech” has inspired countless scary tales that capture the popular imagination because when all you’re dealing with is an online profile, you can never be sure who’s really behind that computer screen.

The upcoming film Unfriended (review) marries the horror genre’s internet fascination with its most adaptable presentation, the found footage movie. Shot as though it’s being viewed on someone’s laptop, Unfriended follows a Skype conversation among six friends who cruelly cyberbullied a young girl in the past, sharing an embarrassing video that led to her suicide. When the companions reunite in the present day for a video chat, an unknown person joins their conversation to threaten them with a sadistic choice: confront the truth about what happened, or die.

As horror fans prepare for what’s being touted as the biggest found footage game-changer since Paranormal Activity, we wanted to take a step back and check out some other titles that explore the extreme end of media manipulation. (And on a less extreme but equally cool note, they’re all available to stream free instantly from PopcornFlix and FrightPix.) So click on if you dare – our TOP MOVIE MEDIA NIGHTMARES are dead ahead!

Chatroom
These days Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have pretty much eclipsed the old-school chatroom, but the specialized online forum was still going strong when this dark British thriller was made. Written by award-winning playwright Enda Walsh and helmed by Hideo Nakata, director of Ring, Chatroom is a twisted adventure about five lonely teens meeting in cyberspace. They quickly bond with each other as they build their profiles, creating the identities they wish they had in real life, and revealing intensely personal secrets. But when one member of the group (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, best known as the title character in Kick-Ass) begins targeting another with death as the end goal, the kids must take it upon themselves to stop the madness from the inside before someone gets seriously hurt. Can they succeed before their friend goes permanently offline?
Click here to stream free.

Chatroom - 6 Social Media-Inspired Horror Films

Death Tube 1 & 2
What good is a show without an audience? This Japanese flick and its sequel (subtitled Broadcast Murder Show) combine the best elements of torture-trap movies like Saw with the perverted wackiness of 4chan and wrap them up in a sleek YouTube parodying package. A young man becomes obsessed with DeathTube, a website that broadcasts videos of people being gruesomely murdered as they struggle to complete unwinnable puzzles. It turns out that DeathTube is incredibly popular, as many tune in to watch and comment on the violence, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone that those who comment are soon selected as the site’s next victims. The young man is kidnapped along with a group of strangers to play the deadly games, and it’s anybody’s guess whether they can work together to survive. Of course, many of the traps are so over-the-top that both DeathTube films are just as funny as they are scary, and when danger comes in like wrecking ball – literally – accompanied by murderous Pedobears, you just have to shake your head and say, “Well, I’ve reached that side of the internet again…
Click here and here to stream free.

Death Tube - 6 Social Media-Inspired Horror Films

Dot.Kill
Not every maniac needs to bring victims to a warehouse full of booby traps; some of them make house calls. In Dot.Kill, one very particular serial killer forces his God complex outward, posting his murders online and even hijacking Times Square in order to reach the largest viewership possible. But when a morphine-addicted cop (Armand Assante) determines to catch the villain, the kills grow increasingly personal and brutal as our hero realizes that he’s become the ultimate target. Despite a title that seems ripped off from Fear dot com, the plot is quite different and this thriller also provides a real character study. (There’s also the great film buff’s pleasure of knowing that this movie was originally called Digital Reaper or in some circles Digital Jesus.) Find out if the addled detective has logged on for more than he bargained for.
Click here to stream free.

Dot Kill - 6 Social Media-Inspired Horror Films

Deadly Game
With the popularity of online gaming, it’s surprising that so few horror films have employed it as a plot device – the cruelty potential alone of characters with multiple lives to spare seems ripe with possibilities. But new frontiers have been breached in this Dutch import, which revolves around a community of gamers who are invited to try out a special actualized version of a new online entertainment. Unfortunately they discover too late that they’re trapped inside a death maze and that the real game is surviving the night. I’ll stick to playing New Super Mario Bros. U myself, but watching Deadly Game is going to be one awesome spectator sport!
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Dead Tone
Sometimes it’s important to slow down and remember where all this instant communication began. Dead Tone starts off with a bang – or rather, with a ring as a group of children try to outdo each other in simple prank-calling. But when one kid accidentally dials a serial killer, sparking a massacre, it’s clear that phone conversation is serious business. Several years and many leaps in technology later, the children reunite as adults to play one last round of Russian roulette pranking. (Did they learn nothing the first time, or are they sadists themselves?) Too bad the murderer’s tracked them down and this time he’s intent upon putting a face to the phone numbers. Remember, folks, even low-tech tools must be handled with care!
Click here to stream free.

Dead Tone - 6 Social Media-Inspired Horror Films

Hack!
Of course, not every form of media manipulation is restricted to the internet. How could we forget the granddaddy of all memes, reality television? Or to be more precise, documentaries. Yes, in Hack! a bunch of college students vacationing on a remote island unwittingly fall into their hosts’ documentary, which turns out to be a snuff film when people suddenly start disappearing from the group. The killers are using every cliché in the book to fulfill their murderous desires, so the students’ best chance at staying alive is to rely on their knowledge of slasher tropes. While Hack! straddles the parody spectrum somewhere between Scream and Scary Movie levels of ridiculousness, horror buffs will have a field day pointing out all the references made to icons of the genre. And here’s a “Hey, It’s That Girl” moment for you TV Tropers – Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) stars as the ingénue, while Drusilla (Juliet Landau) appears as the camera-crazed hostess. There’s more fun here than you can shake a chainsaw at, so you’d better get watching.
Click here to stream free.

Hack - 6 Social Media-Inspired Horror Films

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