9 Creepy YouTube Web Series To Marathon When You’re In The Mood For Some Spookiness
Not going to lie: The moment the calendar ticked over to September, I immediately packed away all my summer gear and broke out the sweaters, boots, and bottomless coffee mugs. (Yes, even though it’s still 85 degrees in the Northeast right now.) But I don’t just love fall because of the fact the weather is (supposed to be) cooler and there’s cinnamon in everything; I love it because it’s the spookiest time of year. It’s the perfect time to read ghost stories, go to haunted houses, and — best of all — watch creepy web series on YouTube. You don’t have to go all the way to the movie theater to find something spooky to watch.
Horror is one genre where the phrase “less is more” is almost always gospel truth. The suggestion of something terrible happening is, practically without fail, much more effective than seeing every (literally) gory detail — or at least, it is for me. And indeed, that’s why I think YouTube is such a gold mine for horror: The creators telling stories through the platform aren’t usually working with huge budgets, which means they can’t rely on flashy special effects to fix weaknesses in the writing or the performances. It forces you to be that much more creative, and the results are often stunning.
These nine series (well, 11, really — we’ll get to that in a bit) exemplify the best of YouTube’s creepiest content. So pull up a chair. Open up a new tab. And — especially — turn off the lights. We’ve got some yarns to spin.
Check out the entire 'What's Up, Boo?' series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
1The West Records
If you’ve ever spent any amount of time with creepy YouTube series — no matter how small — The West Records’ premise is going to sound familiar: The uploader of the footage — about whom we know very little — gained possession of an external hard drive holding some heavily corrupted data. They got to work repairing what they could… and discovered an incredibly strange narrative threading through the repaired video files: A narrative involving a strange location, an investigation, and a whoooole lot of weirdness.
What sets The West Records apart, though, is how well done it is. It’s tightly plotted, so it avoids the trap so many found footage web series fall into wherein, in an effort to keep it “natural,” there’s a lot of footage that’s doesn't push the story forward and is honestly just plain boring; however, it does still maintain that style of naturalism that makes it so believable. In the years since its debut, it’s gained a reputation as being a sleeper hit.
Watch it here.
On March 12, 2017, a person known only as “Paul” began uploading gameplay footage to YouTube of what he said was an unfinished Playstation game from 1997 called Petscop. At first, it looks sort of like a Pokemon-esque game; the point is to guide the player avatar around an area called “The Gift Plane,” collecting “pets” and finding them homes. Paul’s narration, however, tips us off right off the bat that something isn’t right here — the first words he speaks are, “All right, so, this is just to prove to you that I’m not lying about this game I found.” We don’t know who he’s talking to, but it does appear to be someone specific — and as he continues to play, he uncovers all sorts of weird, hidden stuff that hints at an extremely dark story involving kids going missing, untimely deaths, and a lot of other nasty stuff.
The best part about this one is that it is ripe for analysis — so if you’re a fan of stories that make you work for it, Petscop is going to be right up your alley. The lengths to which the creator has gone to make this one are also extraordinary; it’s not easy to code or animate an entire non-existent game, but that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Watch it here.
3The Unholy Trinity Of Slender Man Series
I know, I know — Slender Man is overdone, and yes, I’m cheating a little by including three items in one entry (so, the grand total of web series featured in this post is actually 11, not nine). But I would amiss to put together a list of must-see creepy web series and leave Marble Hornets, EverymanHYBRID, and Tribe Twelve off the list; it’s thanks to them that creepy web series became a thing in the first place. All three of them were essential to building the mythos of Slender Man, the character first created by Erik “Victor Surge” Knudsen on the Something Awful forums in 2009 — and, indeed, Marble Hornets saw its beginnings in that very same SA thread.
The oldest of the bunch, Marble Hornets hit the internet on June 20, 2009; it followed Jay Merrick (Troy Wagner) as he attempted to figure out what happened to a friend who had gone missing and why production had stopped on a film he was making before he disappeared. EverymanHYBRID followed on March 21, 2010, ostensibly beginning as a (not really great) health and exercise vlog before the appearance of a certain tall, slender figure in the background became more and more concerning. Tribe Twelve brought up the rear, launching on June 5, 2010 as a memorial created by Noah Maxwell for his deceased cousin, Milo — except that, as Noah went over old videos of himself and Milo, he realized that something seemed to be dogging their steps.
These series are all really, really long, so they’re investments of your time — but they’reworth checking out if you haven’t already.
Watch Marble Hornets here, EverymanHYBRID here, and Tribe Twelve here. (Know, though, that each of these were also alternate reality games as well — so there’s more to find beyond simply their main channels. This might help for EverymanHYBRID, for example, but watch out for spoilers.)
I’ll confess that I haven’t actually done more than skim 2h32 yet; it’s experimental, non-linear storytelling, rather than a straightforward narrative, so you can’t just watch it — you have to work to figure out the mystery of it as you go.
There are several elements that occur in each of the videos of the series: They’re all upload on the 23rd day of the month; they’re all two minutes and 32 seconds in length; they all begin with a clock counting up from 2:30 a.m. and end when the clock hits 2:32 a.m; and they all feature bizarre footage that’s reminiscent of totheark, which is part of the Marble Hornets saga. Beyond that,though, the videos seem to be unconnected… until you start to look a little closer.
If you like weird, experimental, supremely unsettling pieces of art, this one is for you.
Watch it here.
5Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared
It really, really isn't.
If you need some help understanding it, try this — but I'd wait to watch that explanation until you're done viewing the original series first.
Watch it here.
6No Through Road
No Through Road is short; all four parts combined are only about half an hour total. I actually suspect that it wasn’t even originally intended to be a series; beyond the fact that the first video actually stands alone quite well, there are more than two years between when part one was uploaded in 2009 and when part two arrived in 2011. Almost another year went by before parts three and four were uploaded in 2012.
But the first part in particular? It’s still one of my favorite weird-o YouTube videos I’ve ever seen. Like a lot of creepy web series, this one is in the found footage genre; it shows what happened to a car full of teenagers when they went missing in Stevenage in the UK. It’s also a masterful example of excellent storytelling done on a tiny budget, exemplifying the fact that you don’t need a ton of money to make a really freaky movie.
You may never want to drive home at night again.
Watch it here.
The Mirror is a little different than a lot of the other series on this list in that it’s a much bigger and flashier production: It was created by Wham City Comedy for IFC’s Comedy Crib. Wham City Comedy’s work… isn’t for everyone. Did you get lost in the maze begun by This House Has People In It, which aired during Adult Swim’s Infomercials block in March of 2016? Or Unedited Footage of a Bear, which aired during that same block in 2014? That’s also Wham City — and their stuff is really, really weird.
The Mirror dives into the world of cults, and, well... it's... really something else.
Watch it here.
8In The Dark (AKA, Louise Is Missing)
In April of 2007, Louise Paxton moved from Norwich, UK to the South London neighborhood of Clapham. Ina series of videos she created for friends and family back home, she documented the move as she got settled in her new home — but then, it takes a turn for the frightening: She believes she’s being stalked, and she has video proof. The…uh… nature of what’s going on becomes clear to the audience fairly quickly… but what’s obvious to a third-person audience is often much harder to see from a first-person perspective — hence Louise’s slow realization of what’s really happening. I’ll just say this: If you’ve been following the Dear David story, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.
What’s interesting to me about this one is the series’ age. If these videos had been released today, we would have known within a few entries that we’re looking at a fictional web series. In 2007, though, many believed Louise was a real person who had really gone missing — in fact, the series was kind of like the Blair Witch Project of the internet. It did later come out that it was fiction; in an interview with Gore Press in 2010, director Andrew Cull and actor Zoe Richards, then promoting the film The Possession of David O'Reilly (also known as The Torment), came clean: Cull had directed In The Dark, and Richards had starred as Louise. Richards’ performance is terrific, which definitely added fuel to the fire.
Watch it here. (The original videos aren’t available to view in the United States, so that link there goes to a single video that strings them all together as a movie; if you want to poke around the original Louise Paxton YouTube channel, however, you can find that here.)
9How To Make A Web Series
What if you don’t just want to watch a creepy web series? What if you want to make one? That’s where Night Mind’s How To Make A Web Series comes into play. Night Mind is hands down my favorite YouTube channel for critical analysis of creepy internet media, and creator Nick Nocturne recently put together a fantastic series of videos about how the proverbial doughnuts are made. It’s interesting both as a how-to manual and as an examination of what does and doesn’t work in a YouTube horror web series, so if you’re looking for something that’ll help you harness your creative abilities, here’s a good place to start.
Watch it here.