The Backrooms: Why the Movie Might Be the Next Viral Horror Sensation (2024)

Do you know what a "liminal space" is? It's a relatively new term used to define images that elicit nostalgia, but are devoid of a certain characteristic that the image would normally contain. Picture a playground. Now, picture it without any children. Doesn't it feel empty? There's no joyful cries, no trudging of feet along wood chips or pavement, no metal-on-metal shrieking coming from the swing set. Instead, there's a deafening silence. It feels ominous, doesn't it? Maybe it even feels a little wrong, like someone shouldn't be there to begin with.

The Backrooms — a popular collaborative horror phenomenon — originated from one of these liminal space images. It's hauntingly iconic by now: the constant buzz of overhead fluorescent lights mixed with an unbroken yellow hue staining the walls, the ceiling, and the floor, all connecting into an endless series of identical hallways makes for an image that's hard to forget. Now, all of a sudden, they're the topic of an upcoming film being produced by A24, Atomic Monster, and a handful of other major names. If you haven't heard of The Backrooms before, don't worry: it'll likely be everywhere soon enough. Following the success of Skinamarink, The Backrooms will likely be the next viral horror sensation.

What Are The Backrooms?

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As mentioned before, The Backrooms isn't the creation of a single person, but rather a collaborative effort of multiple creators. The first image that popularized The Backrooms was originally posted to a discussion thread on the image-board 4chan in 2018, where a handful of users noted something "off" about it. The picture was taken at a strange angle, depicting a set of florescent lights beaming down directly onto the bare carpet. The entire image felt "empty," as if it were lacking something to give it a tangible feeling. Another user created a fictional story associated with the image, claiming that the area was titled "the Backrooms" and was a direct result of "noclipping out of reality" — entering another dimension, essentially.

Related: Why Skinamarink Is the Most Polarizing Horror Movie in Recent Memory

It wouldn't be until 2022 that Kane Parsons, under the YouTube handle "Kane Pixels," would produce a popular series of short videos that depicted The Backrooms in all their terrifying glory. The shorts would become immensely popular, quickly gathering hundreds of thousands of views in only a matter of days.

If you're active on social media, it's more than likely that you've seen The Backrooms before in a more comedic context. Frequent edits of The Backrooms often depict contemporary memes humorously giving chase to the viewer, whether it's a still-image of Bob Odenkirk's Saul Goodman, various TikTok stars, or other surreal characters.

What Makes The Backrooms Scary?

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Similar to how Skinamarink directly targeted a subconscious fear, The Backrooms is largely scary based on the overwhelming atmosphere it exudes. Kane Parsons' shorts in particular put a heavy emphasis on analog horror elements, setting a majority of shorts in the 1990s while stitching together a narrative from archival footage, hand-held footage, and professional graphics. It's a similar approach to how other collaborative horror projects, like the SCP Foundation, depict their various stories.

Related: 19 Horror Movies That Tricked People into Thinking They Were Real

But whereas other horror ARGs utilize shady government organizations, twisted takes on nostalgia, or an unnerving context that surrounds each story, The Backrooms has closely identified itself with the liminal space phenomenon. Simply looking at an empty hallway, a silent carpeted room, or any uninhabited area can evoke those same feelings that The Backrooms thrives on. While Kane Parsons' shorts go a step beyond and attempt to integrate the mysterious setting into a cohesive story, it preys on one of the most basic, instinctual fears we all sporadically feel. If a place ever feels too empty, do you ever think about what might be lurking behind the next corner?

What Could a Backrooms Movie Look Like?

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Seeing as how Kane Parsons is directly involved with the production of the upcoming Backrooms movie, it's practically guaranteed that his depiction of the popular horror setting will be used as the basis for the film's story. It should be noted, however, that Parsons will not be writing the film's screenplay. According to Bloody Disgusting, that duty is relegated to Robert Patino, whose previous works include a handful of episodes for FX's The Bastard Executioner and Sons of Anarchy, as well as the HBO Max miniseries DMZ.

While The Backrooms by itself doesn't necessarily have a cohesive narrative, Parsons attempted to give the bizarre dimension some backstory. An organization going by the name ASYNC originally opened an entryway into the horrible place sometime in the 1980s, with a series of missing persons cases exponentially rising all the way into the 1990s presumably as a result. Things only become more intriguing as several people with video cameras discover the increasingly hostile phenomenon, giving us a taste of the interdimensional horrors that lie in wait.

Details surrounding the upcoming Backrooms film are still to come. However, we can confidently suggest that The Backrooms might be the next viral horror sensation. Following the staggering financial success of Skinamarink, hopefully, more studios will look towards the creativity and inventiveness of internet-based ARGs for future horror titles.

The Backrooms: Why the Movie Might Be the Next Viral Horror Sensation (2024)
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