I really wanted the demon to possess me. I can't resist those YouTube jump-scare videos of placid roads where suddenly a creepy corpse leaps out, and I liven up my errands by listening to the Reddit NoSleep podcast in the car. In short, I like being (safely) scared. But sadly, the much-touted interactive online trailer for Cinemax's new horror TV show "Outcast" just didn't want to play.
"Outcast" is the story of a man possessed by a demon, and the marketing agency behind the site told Adweek it used immersive virtual audio and eye-tracking software to make fans feel as if they're really under the demon's spell. (Warning: send your kids to PBSKids.org or somewhere else, this site definitely isn't G-rated.) And the show has a perfect horror pedigree: it's based on a comic by "Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman.
So I went to possessionbegins.com, hooked up my headphones and shut my eyes as instructed. The trailer was supposed to know when my eyes were closed, and during that time, hiss weird little messages in my ears. When I opened my eyes, it was supposed to switch to unnerving footage from the show.
Except nothing much happened once I got up the nerve to close my eyes. A few crows cawed, and I eventually opened my eyes to see a message noting that my demon was having trouble tracking me, perhaps due to too much light/not enough light/eyeglasses/or hands or hair in the way.
I took off my glasses, tried again. Moved to a different chair. Tested my webcam. Finally, I switched to controlling the demon with the computer spacebar, which admittedly worked pretty well, though I think it probably would've been a little scarier had my own eye blinking registered and the demonic events followed suit.
When your eyes are shut, the demon whispers creepy little messages and you hear sounds as if your body is being mangled and tossed around. When you open your eyes, you see nightmarish scenes, presumably from the show, including a bloody pentagram carved into some poor soul's skin. The scenes are unnerving, sure, but it's the disturbing demon voice whispering into your head while your eyes are closed that really makes it. Pretty neat experience for those of us who crave things that go bump in the night, even if my eyes were beyond the demon's control.
You can also watch a traditional trailer for "Outcast" (below), and tune in to the premiere on Cinemax in the US on Friday, on Foxtel in Australia on Saturday and on Fox International in the UK on June 7. But if you're a horror weirdo like me, give the interactive trailer a try. Maybe my demon was just out to lunch.