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Analog Horror

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Some tapes are better left untouched.

Analog horror is a Horror Web Original subgenre of Found Footage. As the name implies, it usually involves footage made to look like it dates back from the days of analog media, such as VHS, FM radio, etc. Unlike most Found Footage however, there are usually few to no characters involved. Rather the footage is made to resemble some regular television broadcast, random documentary, etc, with the horror coming from the footage being somehow corrupted, hijacked (by EAS or other means) or nonchalantly describing some phenomena not of this world. These videos are almost always less than 10 minutes long, start out mundane and get progressively weirder/scarier.

Channels that host analog horror videos may pose as a number of things. Local58 and Channel 7 both pose as their namesake TV channels, Gemini Home Entertainment poses as a distributor of VHS tapes, and The Minerva Alliance and Analog Archives pose as organizations that collect anomalous footage.

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To say this genre is booming is a bit of an understatement: the reliance on generated audio and video effects as opposed to shooting live footage creates a relatively low barrier to entry and new one-shots and series classified as Analog Horror are popping up all the time, and vary quite a bit in terms of scope, subject, and quality. See this video for a decent overview of the topic. A few elements of it were present in Creepypasta and Alternate Reality Games, such as The Wyoming Incident. The Blair Witch Project is also somewhat of an inspiration, to say the least.

Because videos of this genre have vague circumstances surrounding them, it is a big magnet for Wild Mass Guessing.


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    Tropes commonly found in Analog Horror 
  • Ambiguous Situation: Many circumstances surrounding the footage is kept vague.
    • In the Local58 video "Contingency," is the video telling people to kill themselves out of sheer pride and patriotism, or is it because it's genuinely better than the presented alternative?
    • In The Minerva Alliance video "Unusual EAS," is the thunderstorm really a thunderstorm? Is it a Brown Note weather event that people must not look at? It could be anything they don't want you to see.
  • Apocalypse How: Some videos deal with the world ending or transforming into something unrecognizable.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Pretty much every video of this genre inevitably turns into one.
  • Black Market: EAS Scenario creator Harvester's video The Service has this played out to a shocking degree; a criminal syndicate based in the South of England is using a modified version of Teletext to conduct their dealings, including the trafficking of children, distribution of illicit films, and the sales of medicines, recreational drugs and, worryingly, the chemical weapon Cyclosarin. Scarier still, this syndicate's operating almost in plain sight, with the footage shown only being possible because a viewer happened to be watching television with a dodgy satellite dish, allowing them to accidentally gain access to the Teletext system the syndicate uses.
  • Brown Note: Many videos are said to contain harmful stimuli. Local58 has looking at the moon at the wrong time, The Minerva Alliance video "Game Show Spectacular" is said to have killed a boy who watched it, Analog Archives has "spectral frequencies" of light that are harmful to humans (typically red), etc.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: A common source of the strange occurrences in every analog horror series are cosmic threats beyond mankind's grasp.
  • Decade-Themed Filter: Most commonly The '90s with Deliberate VHS Quality, but occasionally older-style filters will be used, such as film grain for things made in The '60s. TV channels found in analog horror would also have different vanity plates, music and visuals for different decades.
  • Deliberate VHS Quality: This is the most common filter applied to videos of this genre, since many videos are set in the Turn of the Millennium or before.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Interruptions are quite common in analog horror, and videos without them are in the minority.
  • Downer Ending: Any analog horror series that does have an ending won't really end with a happy one.
  • Emergency Broadcast: Every analog horror channel contains at least one of these. Local58 has "Weather Service," The Minerva Alliance has "Unusual EAS," and so on.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Most videos show a single broadcast, with nothing to suggest it goes on for longer than the video's duration.
  • Facial Horror: BLUE_CHANNEL: THALASIN by Gooseworx features this trope in spades, thanks to the 'original emotions' being peddled by the creators of the titular Thalasin and Thalasin Plus drugs, especially in the case of Nage, Dorcelessness, Andric, Trantiveness, Onlent and the one after Loric.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Many things show up too fast to see, most often in the form of Unreadably Fast Text.
  • Haunted Technology: This is what causes many of the broadcast intrusions.
  • In-Universe Camera: The only cameras in analog horror, due to being a subgenre of Found Footage.
  • Madness Mantra: A (usually threatening) line being shown repeatedly all over the screen, or a voice saying it over and over again.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: This ambiguity is present in many videos.
  • Mood Whiplash: Any video that looks innocent or ordinary will inevitably get worse.
  • Nightmare Face: Some series flash these on screen with varied intervals and sounds (or lack thereof) used.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Analog horror rarely shows much of what's causing interruptions and chaos.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: It's common for analog horror series to make images with free image-making software and website such as Artbreeder.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: These are quite common, often signaling greater horrors to come in the video.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: Music only appears when it logically should appear.
  • Retraux: Most videos have this visual style applied to them. Usually in the video era (mid-1980s to mid-2000s), but occasionally prior eras will show up.
  • Silence Is Golden: Spoken dialogue is surprisingly rare in this genre. The vast majority of these words are on screen. Any spoken words may be distorted beyond comprehension or spoken with a text-to-speech voice.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: As most footage takes the form of either local TV broadcasts or instructional videos, most soundtracks consist of easy listening stock corporate music, which definitely does not match the incoming horror. TV broadcast videos in particular have a predilection for the work of Trammell Starks (former primary composer for The Weather Channel) or similar.
  • Strictly Formula: A major criticism of the genre, as nearly all analog horror videos involve VHS effects, "cryptic" imagery, ARGs and ambiguity about the subject matter. In addition, lot of analog horror videos involve fake emergency broadcasts that may or may not have been hijacked by a third party.
  • Vanity Plate: These are shown to make it look like a fictional company made these videos, or are receiving interruptions.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: A common thing to say when a TV station regains control of its broadcast.

    Examples of Analog Horror series 
If a series has its own TV Tropes page, then the links are to that. If not, the links are to the YouTube channel (or whatever video hosting site it's on)


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Video Example(s):

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Lack of Clarity

MatPat brings up that one of the secrets to the Analog Horror genre's success is establishing something to be afraid of but never showing the audience what exactly it is, allowing them to fill in the blanks. He cites the Cthulhu Mythos and Jaws as examples, especially the latter given how it was unintentional.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / NothingIsScarier

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