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Web Original / Blackout

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If I heard what I was saying for the first time, I'd probably think I was lying as well...

BLACKOUT is a YouTube serial "Documentary", which began uploading episodes in 2018.

In 2018, as part of their documentary investigating sleep disorders and memory loss, filmmakers Aliya and Talia head to the small town of Precipice Hill to meet Ethan Reed, a man experiencing strange trances that he has no memory of. He had set up security cameras around his house recorded strange footage of his blackouts, which he shared with the filmmakers.


In trying to understand why his apparent narcolepsy is so different from all the other cases that they have encountered, the trio is sucked into a deeper mystery connected with the town's history and their own.

This series provides examples of:

  • Alternate Reality Game: More subtle than some, but there are threads woven throughout the videos and Twitter accounts for the two producers, as well as the Do You Sleepwalk? Forums, shown in the first episode of the series.
  • Aside Glance: Aliya throws more than a few of these at the camera throughout the series.
  • Being Watched: Talia looks offscreen in Episode 02 while talking with Aliya. It's addressed in Episode 05 - She saw someone watching them outside their motel room. They're concerned because the same man appears to still be lingering there a few hours after the incident, and several nights later. Along with another man who suddenly steps into frame.
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  • Berserk Board Barricade: Talia does this to Ethan's windows in Episode 11.
  • Blatant Lies: As Talia calls out Aliya for her manipulative behavior in Episode 10, the latter tries to deny it straight to Talia's face. Talia brings up that she has video evidence to the contrary, and the story changes quite quickly.
  • The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: After locking the door in Episode 09, Talia realizes too late that the intruder is still inside. It looks she freezes up and drops the camera - But, in fact, she falls into a trance.
  • Canada, Eh?: The main story is set in the Niagara region of Ontario, and the filmmakers themselves are Canadian.
  • Character Blog: Both Aliya and Talia have in-character Twitter accounts. Ethan has an in-story vlog.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Karim, Aliya's father, is first mentioned offhandedly as having worked at the same school as an intern went missing from in Episode 04, and can be seen working at a field site throughout the background of the archival footage in Episodes 05 and 07, though no attention is drawn to him whatsoever - The focus is on the other student, the one who went missing.
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  • Collapsed Mid-Speech: Well, enters a trance mid-interview. Ethan, early in Episode 03.
  • Comically Inept Healing: Ethan's appointment with his doctor at the start of Episode 06 seems to veer into this territory, judging by how astoundingly unhelpful the doctor is when it comes addressing his concerns. Might lend credence to some of Ethan's conspiracy theories that some level of knowledge and cover-up exist, given the apparent level of willful unhelpfulness.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: In Episode 02, Ethan shows a few shades of this. Even called this by name in Episode 04 by Aliya. He has a big bulletin board full of notes and has been vlogging about his experiences, reaching out on internet forums as well. Talia and Aliya soon have a big bulletin board of post-it notes of their own. Considering what they're all encountering, it's not exactly an irrational response.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Whether they're actually stalked by some sort of horrible monster, or it's just the local version of a boogeyman, the townsfolk of Precipice Hill all do seem to agree that the stories all center around the local woods and old experiments that supposedly took place there. Considering that Ethan wanders out there in entranced... and so do many, many other people
  • Dramatic Drop: When Ethan enters a trance, he drops his plate of breakfast and it shatters to spectacular effect. Featured prominently in the trailer.
  • Faux Documentary: Much like many other paranormal YouTube series to come before it, Blackout uses a documentary as a framing device. Episode 01 begins with a few normal cases of sleep disorders before Talia and Aliya meet with Ethan and the series proper kicks off.
  • Fish People: The drawing of The Ghoul featured heavily in the town's merchandise looks something like a blistered Creature From the Black Lagoon.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Some blink and you'll miss foreshadowing in Episode 04, when Aliya mentions that her father works at the same school that an intern went missing from. Called back to in Episode 10
    • Episode 06: Talia asks Aliya about missing time. By Episode 10, we learn, along with Talia, that she has been missing time due to trances. And Aliya has in fact known about her having those trances.
  • Government Conspiracy: Bill Tremblay, a Grumpy Old Man among the townsfolk that Aliya and Talia interview is convinced that government experiments in the 80s are to blame for everything relating to The Ghoul and the unexplained mysteries in town. There is no evidence of any government involvement/interference in the town.
  • I Will Find You: The end of Episode 08. The onscreen text vows to find Ethan, who had been kidnapped in Episode 07.
  • Lured into a Trap: Episode 07 - Aliya and Ethan go to meet with a woman, Shelly, who answered their posters. Someone they've never met before. In the middle of the woods. In the middle of the night. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Episode 07 - Aliya and Ethan's meeting with a woman who answered their posters instead turns out to be a set-up. Aliya is knocked out and Ethan is grabbed.
  • Never Found the Body: Andrew, the student intern that went missing from the University of Toronto group that studied a site near Precipice Hill in 1986.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat / Police are Useless: Detective Clark, who Aliya initially speaks with on the phone in Episode 02. He tells her to give up her ghost hunt and go home.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: In Episode 03, when Talia grabs an entranced Ethan's hand in the woods, the camera begins experiencing audiovisual distortions, not dissimilar from certain other popular web series. Talia also apparently is stunned and hears some sort of noise herself. Also comes again at the end of the episode, as the unblinking gaze of the entranced townsfolk is fixed on Aliya and Talia.
    • Also present in some of the archival footage from the 1986 plant biodiversity study group.
  • Paranormal Investigation: The documentary shifts gears from a general investigation of sleep disorders to focus specifically on the strange trances Ethan and the people of Precipice Hill have been experiencing.
  • Pretend We're Dead: Aliya and Talia follow the entranced townsfolk deeper into the woods in Episode 03.
  • The Professor: Professor George Hood, who is interviewed about his study in 1986. They were apparently studying the plant biodiversity in the area. Has a suitably impressive wall of books behind him during his interview.
  • Ransacked Room: Ethan's house is broken into in Episode 09. His and the filmmakers' notes are strewn about the floor. Some of the old biodiversity research is apparently stolen.
  • Retool: In-story. Aliya completely refocuses the documentary away from the initial sleep disorder study to instead focus on Ethan's revelation that many other people in Precipice Hill are suffering from the same kind of trance as he is. Talia's discoveries in Episode 10 seem to imply that this was actually Aliya's intention all along.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Talia at the end of Episode 06, because she's starting to feel the stress of the project and thinks she may be developing the same symptoms as Ethan. Turns out, she was right. And Aliya was hiding it from her.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: Ethan takes to wearing a body camera once he realizes that he is sleepwalking outside during his trances. And when Aliya and Talia follow Ethan during his trance in Episode 03. Complete with stumbles and trips.
  • She Who Must Not Be Seen: Talia, early on. As the Camerawoman/Director of Photography, she's usually behind the camera while Aliya is in front, hosting and narrating. She becomes more prominent as the series goes on.
  • Shot Reverse Shot: Used for many of the interviews between Aliya and subjects.
  • Sleepwalking: What the documentary is initially about, and what Ethan believes he suffers from.
    • Never Wake Up a Sleepwalker: Talia expresses extreme caution about touching entranced townsfolk in Episode 03. It seems to be good advice, as attempting to wake Ethan later in the episode triggers an Ominous Visual Glitch in the camera and some sort of painful feedback to Talia herself.
  • Slave Mooks: In Episode 03, the entranced townsfolk are carrying large sticks to a central location and building... something.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Ethan's security cameras always have crystal clear picture and audio in exactly the right time and place, as needed to move story beats along. Same with Talia and Aliya's cameras in various other parts of the story.
    • Useless Security Camera: However, it's also non-functional as the plot demands. The break-in in Episode 09 isn't caught by Ethan's extensive set-up because somebody has wiped all of the footage from that evening.
  • Tap on the Head / One-Hit KO: Aliya gets taken down by what seems to be a single blow at the end of Episode 07. She comes to sometime later at the start of Episode 08 without any apparent lingering effects other than a small cut that Talia patches up, as of yet.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Talia gives a pretty big one to Aliya in Episode 10, after finding out some important information. Ends with a very cold Get Out!.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Precipice Hill. Supposedly the center of a lot of rumors of monsters and conspiracies. Local legends about experiments and a monster known as "The Ghoul" It seems like there might be something more to those stories after all.
  • The Unblinking: Entranced townsfolk, including Ethan. Particularly creepy towards the end of Episode 03, when Aliya and Talia realize that the gazes of the townsfolk have fixated on them.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 10.
      • Talia's relationship with Aliya and the project takes on a very different tone after she realizes that Aliya has been manipulating her all along.
      • Aliya's connection to the trances and the town - Due to her father having been on the project from which the student went missing in 1986. How much has she known about this whole time?
      • Aliya's father, Karim, apparently suffers from the same sort of trances as Ethan.
      • Oh, also - Talia has been afflicted by the same sort of trances that Ethan has this whole time, just not in the exact same way, otherwise she would have been entranced along with the townsfolk in Episode 03. Aliya has always known and treats it as an annoyance when she sees it occur.
  • Wham Line:
    • Episode 01: "And that's when I found out that this is... this is not just happening to me."
    • Episode 09: "I think I may have fallen into a trance" (Foreshadowed back in Episode 06)
  • Wild Wilderness: It's astounding how much more menacing a quiet forest becomes in the dark of night when dozens of entranced people are shambling around, and there are no obvious paths back to town.
  • Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Aliya. Possibly to Manipulative Bastard levels. In Episode 10, Talia discovers that Aliya has known much more about the trances all along, due to her father's history with them, and specifically recruited her for the project, because Talia is also afflicted by the trances. Time will tell exactly how much malice there is behind all of this, but Talia's trust of Aliya is shattered.

Example of: