Viewers, readers, and theatregoers have enjoyed the entertainment of horror for centuries, with the origin of this kind of story-telling stretching as far back as Greek and Norse mythology.
Of course, the way that horror is consumed has changed rapidly during the last 30 years. Classic horror books are now available online, such as through e-readers and Kindles, while plays, performances, films, and TV shows are also available in more ways than ever before.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, VHS was the predominant physical media for consumers, and this format was replaced by the DVD and then the blu-ray following the turn of the century. But as we begin a new decade, the era of physical media appears to be drawing to a close.
Recent data shows that sales of physical media have dropped by more than 50% during the last five years, with DVDs continuing to dominate this marketplace, despite offering lower-resolution than blu-ray.
That decline has been caused, in large part, by the emergence of streaming platforms, which don’t necessitate the use of any kind of physical, removable media – instead, delivering content through an internet connection and compatible device.
In this article, we will examine the impact that streaming has had on the horror genre.
There are many streaming platforms in the marketplace carrying horror content, all competing for your custom, and other more recently established services that specialise in content belonging only to the horror genre.
One of the specialist platforms available is Shudder. Established in 2015, Shudder can be accessed on Amazon Fire Stick, Android TV, Chromecast, and Xbox One. The monthly subscription is $5.99 in the US, with packages for UK audiences starting at £3.99.
Shudder promises the largest and fastest-growing selection of content, which includes new releases and classics. The platform also offers additional content, including talk shows and interactive Q&As, helping to build its own community.
Elsewhere, more established streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu carry a strong selection of horror film and TV shows, with the genre forming a major part of the overall offering – whether that’s the latest Hollywood blockbusters or cult classics. These services are typically available for between £5 and £15 a month.
Video streaming is also helping to underpin the creation of new online communities, with platforms like YouTube providing a blank canvas for horror genre enthusiasts to discuss their favourite titles and interact with others.
Many others use the platform to originate and broadcast their own content, providing new opportunities for budding young film-makers to get their content seen by others in the community. Previously, getting your creation in front of the right people was fairly tricky, but platforms like YouTube have made it relatively straightforward for videos to be shared.
Due to the genre’s cult following, a high number of YouTubers have succeeded in building huge audiences and many have succeeded in turning their hobby into a career by monetising their content.
Some of the biggest horror channels on YouTube include MrCreepyPasta, which posts new horror stories every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Elsewhere, CryptTV offers short films that are added every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, collaborating with the next generation of horror story-tellers.
Other channels, like Horror Addict, helps film fans keep up to date with the latest Hollywood trailers, while there are countless other smaller communities that deliver against a shared objective of bringing the horror community together online.
Platforms like YouTube make it easier than ever to build your own horror community online. It’s not just horror fans that have found success discussing their passion, anybody can stream video using either their smartphone or laptop, and going live is as simple as a couple of button taps.
In a crowded marketplace, it can be difficult for your content stand-out, so it’s important that you think carefully about the sort of video you’ll be producing. Will you be creating new films? Will you be offering a fresh perspective? It really is important to be original; simply recreating what’s already out there won’t help you achieve cut-through.
Furthermore, you must only use content that you own or have permission to borrow. And while it may be tempting to use short clips from your favourite films, YouTube will clamp down on any misuse of footage that belongs to a film studio. If you are caught using other people’s content then the video could be deleted, while persistent offenders could see their channel completely removed.
Whatever sort of content you want to produce, ensure you keep it concise at first and leave your viewers wanting more. The first videos you record should be no more than five minutes and they should offer something insightful or unique along the way.
For example, this video from Casino Hacks, offers a review of one of the latest games in just over two and a half minutes. The review covers everything from the graphics and gameplay to offering walkthroughs for new players. It’s amazing how much you can cover in such a short time! Keeping the videos short initially will help to retain viewer attention, too.
It’s also important to use the tools around you to your benefit. And while spending thousands of pounds on equipment and software isn’t necessary, you should spend some time thinking about purchases you could make that will help make your content stand-out or keep editing easy. There’s a good selection of free editing packages online, while you can pick up accessories such as an external microphone, which could significantly boost recording quality, relatively cheaply.
As you can see, streaming has created several new opportunities for the horror genre and many more shared loves. While streaming has helped seal the fate of physical media, it’s provided new platforms to enjoy the best and greatest content, while also opening the door for fans and creators to interact with one in ways never previously possible.