As October and “spooky season” approaches, I wanted to bring attention to a type of horror that people don’t generally think of when looking into the genre. This plays with your psyche, makes you feel off, like something is wrong, but it’s not entirely evident as to what. Surreal horror might have a message, like any surreal piece of art, but it also might not. It’s an art form that I have always been fascinated and off put by, considering I love trying to make sense of the world and seek to someday be a scientist.
The fear of the unknown can be a powerful tool, and I find it is far more effective to show something…well… unknown, than to say “it’s too scary to describe”, which, in my opinion, is a cop-out. It’s one of my least favorite horror tropes. I want to see why something is so scary. Surreal horror shows me exactly that, even if I can’t make any sense of the nonsense I’m seeing or hearing.
I would say that I am a strong mixture in terms of belief, both a skeptic and a believer. I don’t really believe in cursed videos, but curses in general… I will give a solid maybe. I believe in the paranormal, sure, but I will question any evidence I’m presented with simply because there are a menagerie of hoaxes out there on a regular basis. Some people might describe these types of videos as ‘cursed’, or tried to spread a rumor about them, but I always find it ridiculous. I’ve watched several ‘cursed’ videos that allegedly cause nausea and dark thoughts without batting an eye. Perhaps I’m just immune.
That aside, I wouldn’t say any of these videos will bring bad luck — but an eerie feeling? Definitely. Let’s dive into some of my favorites here and my personal feelings/speculations. Every person will get something different from these videos, as that’s the nature of art, particularly with the surreal. It’s what makes this form so wonderful…or so creepy.
CONTENT WARNING: The following videos might have disturbing content and subject matter such as loss of innocence, gore, sexual abuse, r*pe, and disturbing images. THERE ARE ALSO FLASHING LIGHTS IN SOME OF THEM!
Ben Wheele is likely most known for their video, Henry Eats. However, I wanted to bring attention to this very creepy video, which is unusual as well, and rather symbolic, as people have discussed in the comments. It’s a bit more on the nose than some of their other videos, but an interesting one nonetheless. You know you’re in for a treat with this thumbnail.
The narrator, “Decoration”, finds the death of a beloved pet ‘deeply inspiring’. I won’t summarize the entire thing, as I suggest you watch the video itself, but that detail even in the beginning is odd. We get tons of visuals of living, pulsating tissue that really can be offputting. We find out that in the end…. ‘decoration’ is really cervical cancer.
Elements of theater are built up in this girl’s system, which really are just a buildup of the cancer in secret prior to it taking her life in the end. This surreal horror element highlights death, how it just….doesn’t make much sense, and how silently it can grow. It reminds me of the song line: “Silence like a cancer grows” from The Sound of Silence by Disturbed. We honestly don’t know why ‘decoration’ worked the way it did, we just know it took the life of this poor young girl.
There’s a parallel to the production itself – killing something you love, like how the girl accidentally killed the hamster. ‘Decoration’ implies that it can somewhat understand the feeling at the end. As if the girl was something it cared for, or something. Which…considering it dies with its host, yeah, I suppose that would be a thing.
Others can probably dive far more deeply into this than I did, but that’s what I got from this particular piece of creepy media.
WARNING FOR THE NEXT ONE: Sexual abuse/loss of innocence/harm of a child/r*pe implications, feel free to skip!
Nana(followed by several numbers) is known for their video youtube 666. However, many of their other videos are not as well known, though are up-there in views. Still, I don’t see them being discussed in articles like this, which is why I wanted to bring up this one. It gives me an uncomfortable, but accepting, feeling in the pit of my stomach, like a dark reminder of a past I just can’t remember because it’s too terrible.
That aside, the implications here are really on-the-nose. It’s a loss of innocence, likely r*pe, judging by where the finger comes out in the video itself. I see many users there commenting how they feel really off by it as well, message-wise, and just how sad it is. I also noticed people mentioning how the girls kept trying to put it aside and keep having fun, wanting to preserve the childhood until it vanished.
I still think this counts as surreal horror because of the representations here, and while there’s a smaller scope of how you can interpret this, it does play with the psyche, especially to those with children or those who have gone through terrible things in childhood. I want to bring attention to the particularly weird noises when the disgusting hand is on screen, a sort-of morphed moaning that twists your gut. Auditory noises really get me sometimes, and this is no exception.
Warning for next video: Gore (cartoon-ish), some flashing images
The youtuber David Firth is known well by his series Salad Fingers, but like the other videos, I wanted to bring attention to one of his more obscure ones. This one has under one million views, and while the hundred-thousands is a lot, it pales in comparison to some of his other videos. This one is also similar to Crooked Rot, but again, I feel like that one is a bit more known in the grand scheme of things.
This one takes surreal horror to the next level. The previous videos had messages that were painted in a surreal light, yes, but ones that were supposedly easy to unearth for some. This one, I feel, digs a bit more into the “what the fuck” category of trying to figure out what’s going on. Now, I’m definitely not Christian, but I do believe in some ‘hell’ out there for the truly evil, at least in some shape or form. I assume those who believe in the Christian hell would be really off put by this video even though it is claymation, and I can’t blame them.
The nightmarish images depict bloodshed, being chopped up, morphed creatures, burnings, and such like that. The noises coming with the video are just as horrifying, if not moreso, and really accompany the visuals well. There is a timelessness, a sense of ‘never-ending’ that really hits the pit of some people’s minds with raw fear. I don’t think there’s much to interpret here other than to enjoy the elements of horror art and surrealism. Unlike the last 2 videos, I don’t feel there’s a clear takeaway other than just, like I said, appreciating the art piece.
CONTENT WARNING FOR NEXT: VERY FLASHY IMAGES! The flashing can REALLY disorient and disturb. Also, the noises are really loud, so volume warning.
Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I found it during a search for a different video, and apparently it had been some sort of ARG before people harassed the creators. The video I’d been looking for (that I still have yet to find as of writing this, ugh) was, from what I recall, something presenting a bunch of rooms, including “a room made of skin” (a resident was embarrassed about apparently), “a soft room”, “a s*icide room”, a room made of hair, et cetra, with a bunch of cursed objects we were instructed not to look at. It was somewhat of an instructional video, with an obscure title. It also had some weird beat behind it that some felt sounded really catchy.
Well, I couldn’t find it, but instead wanted to mention… this… piece of work. It really off put me the first time I saw it, what with the narrator and really bad condition of the house. It made me feel disgusting and uncomfortable, as if the person involved that the narrator is speaking to is captured and being held against their will. Or dead, as evident by the trash bag shaped like a body.
The noises also really throw me off here and disorient me. They put me on high alert, and not necessarily in reference to the abusive narrator. The high pitch warbled noise really threw me for a loop, but that might just be me, as auditory horror can get me deeply sometimes.
In my mind, the implication is that this is an abused person that is currently being guilt tripped, called ungrateful since they ‘have a home here’ even though it’s such a disgusting, terrible place. Not much to say about it other than the surrealism will scramble the brain on this one for sure.
CONTENT WARNING: Gore, implications of pregnant woman death
I saved my favorite one on this list for last. To me, this is the KING of surreal horror, no surprise either that it is a tribute of sorts to Silent Hill. (Though, I’ve only seen the movie of that franchise, I heard the game was excellent.) Anyway, the implications here are painted well in a surreal fashion, that being a man was texting while driving, likely crashed into another driver, and killed both him and them. One could assume that the other driver was pregnant, especially from the squirming flesh sac toward the end of the video and screaming child.
This is a piece of art to me, in the horror genre, and I’ve watched it several times over. Horror movies generally don’t get me anymore, but there’s something about the surreal horror here that really tickles my fancy. I know the janitor scene in the Silent Hill movie has always really creeped me out, and this gives me similar vibes. Though, not quite the same, as each one has their own unique flavor when it comes to horror.
I think, in both senses, the noises get me the most. As I’ve said in this article before, auditory horror can really get me, and the distorted noises toward the end of Rot sell this for me. Honestly, this felt like watching an entire horror movie in just 9 minutes. I wish there were more horror movies out there that really made things twisted/surreal, like this video or Silent Hill.
The gentleman trapped here clearly doesn’t get out in the end, either. I think this represents purgatory, and he’s unable to understand exactly what happened–he probably has no idea that he’s dead. As these hellish things seem to go on a loop more and more, they get worse and worse. The implication is that he’s likely trapped there forever.
There you have it! I tried to dig through and find some more obscure videos if they were made by a well-known creator. Hopefully I offered something new on this list for you to watch and enjoy if you’re a horror fan. Let me know which was your favorite if you checked them out, your interpretations, and if there are any videos like these out there that you personally enjoy.