New forms of media inevitably lead to new forms of storytelling, and last night the production company behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious brought the first live horror film to Periscope. Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions first announced the project, Fifteen, on Twitter, before the handle was seemingly commandeered by the fictional serial killer that serves as the star of the film and broadcast kicked off. (It's available now on YouTube.)
What's most clever about Fifteen is that it blurs the line between fiction and reality by making Periscope a plot device unto itself. In the world of the film, Truman is a serial killer that live streams his crimes, and what we as an audience watch as Fifteen is actually his ninth broadcast; he's become so notorious in the fictional world, that a radio station in the short actually breaks into its broadcast to inform listeners that he's begun streaming. Of course, given that it's all coming from the Periscope account of a prominent movie production company there's some awkward references to passwords being easy to hack to justify it all, but it's nevertheless an intriguing (and somewhat disturbing) experiment for horror fans — even if Truman comes off a little hammy at times.
The CBC reports that the short was actually made by filmmaker Gavin Michael Booth (The Scarehouse), who conceived of the project after first installing Periscope on his phone several months ago. He then pitched it to Blumhouse, who embraced the idea. "This all happened in the last four or five weeks," Booth said.
Not the first time Blumhouse has used new technology for scary stories
It's not the first time Blumhouse has used different forms of technology to make its movies. Earlier this year the company released Unfriended, a surprisingly effective horror film that took place entirely on the screen of a young girl's computer screen. When I spoke with Blum about that project, he stressed that trying new types of storytelling — and media — was essential to keeping the genre fresh. "Hollywood looks backwards and tries to repeat. And we really try not to do that," he said. "So the only way to marry those two things is to keep the budgets low. Because if the budgets are low enough, it’s like, 'Alright, fuck it, go try your weird new thing.'" As for the company's latest weird new thing, Fifteen comes off more like a streaming snuff film than a true narrative, but even as a proof of concept it's clear that there are vast, untapped creative possibilities on Periscope — and that people will use whatever platforms they can to tell stories.
Update, 2:49PM: Added YouTube embed to story.
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