The Evolution of High-Tech Horror Movies, From ‘Dot.Kill’ to ‘Rings’ (Videos)
“Rings” is the latest movie to find scares in new technology, from ChatRoulette to VR headsets
Jeremy Fuster | February 2, 2017 @ 3:52 PM
Last Updated: February 2, 2017 @ 5:30 PM
The 2005 indie is an early example of a horror movie putting a spin on viral videos. A serial killer who hacks websites -- and even the video screens in Times Square -- posts videos of his murders. A drug-addicted cop puts it on himself to take the killer down, but it turns out the cop may be the killer's last, biggest target.
Beyond mainstream horror, high-tech horror can weird and campy. This Japanese B-movie centers on a gory website that livestreams people playing deadly games hosted by some weirdo in a mascot outfit. The twist is, anyone who comments on the videos is unwittingly thrown in the pool to be potentially kidnapped as the next contestants.
This indie builds its scares around internet culture. The titular Smiley Killer is like a cyber Bloody Mary. As the story goes, if you type "I did it for the lulz" into an instant message window while on ChatRoulette, the person you are speaking to will be murdered by Smiley.
A zombie invasion plot gets a social media spin. Eventually, our protagonists are separated from each other by the chaos and have to rely on social media to communicate and to get news as to what's going on in the outside world.
Before "Rings," the most prominent internet-based horror film was this social-media nightmare. Taking place entirely on the desktop of a teen girl's computer, the film explores how a group of five friends were complicit in the internet bullying of a classmate who was driven to suicide.
"Blair Witch" (2016)
The sequel to the 1999 classic found footage film "The Blair Witch Project" lifts its plot almost wholesale from its predecessor. The major difference this time is that our victims go off into the forest to find the Blair Witch with smartphones, GoPros, and drone cameras. Big surprise, none of this tech does them the slightest bit of good, and they suffer the exact same fate as the group that went in before iPods were invented.
"Black Mirror" (2016)
It's not technically a movie, but we can't talk about scary stories about new technology without mentioning "Black Mirror." The season 3 episode "Playtest" leans hard into horror tropes as it follows a man's doomed fate as he tests out a virtual reality headset designed to be the ultimate horror experience.
Japanese novelist Koji Suzuki created a horror tale about an evil videotape that kills anyone who watches it seven days after they pop it in their VCR. That was 26 years ago. The tale has spawned a horror movie franchise. But with VCRs obsolete, the latest installment has turned the cursed tape into a viral internet video. With this jump into digital technology, "Rings" becomes the latest horror movie to pull its scares from modern technology.