Recently, the first trailer for THE BELKO EXPERIMENT began to circulate, and it looks like a pretty terrifying film. Basically, a bunch of people working in an office are trapped (as in, metal gates roll down over the windows) and told by a voice over a speaker system to start killing one another or be eliminated. The whole thing looks like something between THE PURGE, DREDD, and a particularly twisted episode of CRIMINAL MINDS. It’s not an entirely original concept, but it appears destined to produce some pretty fresh scares.
There’s something that feels a little bit different about this trailer though, and it might just be that it seems fairly modern. While there are certainly exceptions, there’s usually something old school about horror movies these days. Even something like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, which embraces the technology of handheld cameras, uses old creaking houses and simple landscapes, without much interference from technology. THE BELKO EXPERIMENT is using a modern office space, a technologically savvy killer, surveillance and security to set up a sort of cage for horror.
This makes you think of how else the horror genre could take up a more modern atmosphere in the years to come. That’s not to say it should completely do away with creepy woodland houses and the like, but it would probably be fair to say that the genre has gotten somewhat-stale in terms of settings and content. So with that said, here are a few more concepts for a modern horror project.
Hacked Smart Homes
By now you’re probably aware of the smart home phenomenon. People are now buying everything from coffee makers to security systems equipped with AI and the capability to connect wirelessly, resulting in entire home environments that can basically run the show. It’s kind of great, but it’s also such a security concern that people are discussing ways to keep smart homes safe from hacking. Doesn’t this seem like a natural slot for a horror movie to fill? The idea of outsiders gaining digital control over all aspects of our homes is, frankly, terrifying. A hacker could theoretically lower the temperature to unbearable degrees and lock a family inside; he could turn the car on remotely but refuse to open the garage. And those are just a few examples. This movie could get really creepy really quickly.
Video Poker Drama
A lot of us still think of pokerâ€”even online pokerâ€”as an old-school concept in and of itself. But the truth is that online poker has become one of the most interactive corners of the gaming industry, to the point that sites are now designing games with live dealers viewed through video feeds. That’s taking things to another level, as far as interacting with strangers through a game goes. And while it’s a lot of fun for poker enthusiasts, there’s something unsettling about the concept as well. What if a dealer decided to play a sick game with players, threatening some sort of action if they didn’t act a certain way? What if an opponent playing from another computer screen were a known criminal communicating demands to strangers through the dealer? There are all kinds of different ways to use this simultaneously isolating and interactive form of gaming for horror.
Virtual Reality Goes Awry
Finally, there’s virtual reality to consider, almost as a combination of the two ideas listed previously. Needless to say, VR headsets are becoming trendy in gaming and entertainment, and it probably won’t be long before most of us have one device or another to enjoy this kind of activity. But what if someone hacked your VR world and started controlling your game, issuing demands or coercing you through a world that doesn’t actually exist? It’s sort of a trippy concept, but the whole VR wave is ripe for a psychological thriller that could easily dip its toes into the horror category.