remember to look behind you

Miscellaneous Content

A place for me to put things that either don't have a home yet, or simply won't ever really fit anywhere else in this archive.


An unlisted video uploaded onto the Marble Hornets channel on July 31, 2015. Its description is a descending "1 2 3 4". You can see the video here; at 19 seconds long, each line of the poem appears one by one, and the audio is some vaguely musical ambient static. Worth noting that it was posted after the Marble Hornets series had already ended with Entry #87 the previous year.




Always Watching Movie

I watched this movie once out of sheer dedication to this series and was like "Wow! That was a bad movie!!" and told myself I'd never watch it again, but now I'm digging in my heels in order to give a more in-depth review of its many issues. So let's get cracking!

The core fault of this movie lies in its complete inability to grasp what exactly made anything in Marble Hornets work despite its blatant attempts to recreate iconic shots and moments from the series. Any earnest attempt to make a Marble Hornets adaptation, or even just a unique story set in the same canon, that might have been present in early planning is completely lost in cheap, shameless grabs for basic tropes and easily consumable garbage. Maybe this movie would grate on me less if it would just be willing to market itself as another Slenderman movie, but the use of the subtitle "A Marble Hornets Story" implies that this film should follow the same 'rules' presented in the Marble Hornets canon, and it clearly couldn't give less of a shit about any of that lmao.

Every single choice this movie makes is one that does nothing but distance itself from the Marble Hornets universe in ways that are cheap and ineffective. Everything from the Possessions, to the Symbol, to the Characters, to the basic use of Cameras -- none of it works, and frankly I think even if this movie hadn't tried to hide under the "Marble Hornets" title, it still wouldn't work because the film does such a terrible job at explaining its own plot and laws that you really begin to wonder why anything on screen is happening at all. I feel as if perhaps I'm being very harsh, but this movie has almost a 5/10 rating on IMDB and so clearly someone needs to be brutally honest about it.

The best part of Marble Hornets to me is not necessarily the horror of the Operator, it's the character driven revenge-tragedy of it all, so I'll go ahead and start my critique with the Always Watching Characters. Obviously no straightforward film is going to have the same opportunities that the original Marble Hornets series had in humanizing its characters -- the accessibility of Jay through Twitter and the numerous, grounded uploads of his YouTube Entries did a lot of work to make him feel like a real person and give the stakes of the series some weight -- but there are plenty of movies that did a much better job than Always Watching attempted. Like with everything else about this movie, the film seems to grasp the loose edges of what made Marble Hornets work as well as it did, but it seems to lack any real understanding of what any of those things Mean. Yes, the characters of Marble Hornets are deeply flawed, but because we know exactly where they're coming from, what they've been through, what has happened to them, these flaws become understandable and tragic. When Jay devolves from earnest concern over what happened to Alex to obsessive, paranoid stalking you understand the traumas and influences that led him down that path, and there's a tangible sense of grief when you think of what happened to him. The same goes for the horror of the disparity between the passionately earnest dork Alex was in college and the bitterly dedicated shell he became; the same goes for Brian; the same goes for Tim.

But Always Watching isn't interested in you really getting to know its characters, and what's more it attempts to recreate those same fatal flaws the original Marble Hornets cast had without seeming to grasp that the horror of those flaws comes from knowing that they were Not a core fact of the characters to begin with. Milo is a stalker -- he had a one-night stand with a new coworker and seems unable to take her No's for an answer and so spends months following and filming her doing everything from grocery shopping to attending AA meetings while being bitterly jealous over her interacting with other men. Are we supposed to believe there was someone earnest and well-intentioned underneath that behavior? I cannot see how that could be the case, since the jealous stalking is the First tangible action we see Milo take in the movie. Much later in the film, it attempts to give him a line about how he doesn't understand how the behavior got that bad, but it's legitimately impossible to take this at the film's seemingly desired implication that he was suffering under the 'Operator's influence given that the behavior started months before the character had any encounter or interaction with the thing at all.

(The same applies to Charlie's conversation about the rage-fueled violence that cost him his previous job. He uses words meant to invoke the ghost of the Operator's influence, but I fail to see how the movie could earnestly want you to believe that the incidents are related when, again, the characters Do Not Encounter The 'Operator' until Months after these incidents occurred.)

It's arguable that my opinion that the contrived Love Triangle dynamic between the Always Watching characters was never going to work as well as the deeply messy dynamics presented in the Marble Hornets canon is biased, since I'm not someone who's ever particularly drawn in by romantic subplots, but I don't think that defense could stand in the face of Always Watching's reality. Again, not only are the main characters deeply unlikeable on fundamental levels given that they are presented Flaw First and fail to develop outside of that, but none of them have any kind of chemistry whatsoever. There isn't any history between them to feed off of -- Milo and Sara have known each other the longest at like, a little over 6 months, and the depth of their 'relationship' is the stunning cumulation of Sara trying to maintain a professional coworker-friendship with Milo while he makes pointed comments about other men "trying to get into [her] pants" at work while he stalks her throughought her personal life. They don't have chemistry with each other, and neither of them have chemistry with Charlie either, so any conflict they have feels trite and obvious -- there's no tragedy in it at all.

But when it comes to the actual horror, Always Watching fumbles the bag just as badly. This movie fails so badly at being a "Marble Hornets Story" that I almost feel bad comparing it to Marble Hornets at all, but that's the premise it presents with its title card, and so I won't hold back. Look, the thing in Always Watching is not at all the Operator from Marble Hornets. You could have just called it Slenderman and packed up your bags and it would have been fine - still a bad movie - but like, fine. But instead they chose to attempt to like, "recreate" a specific concept from a specific series with specific on-screen presence and failed to actually follow through on any part of it. Like, the use of the Operator Symbol is deeply stupid; there's kind of no other way to describe it. Alex came up with that symbol as a Personal Mark representing the Operator, and by the end of the series totheark used the mark as a personal sign-off Far more than anyone used it to denote the Operator anyway. It definitely was not a signature the Operator used itself, certainly wasn't Branded onto characters as a cheap scare tactic, and it absolutely never drew the thing on windows itself for some scare factor, like come on. Is it supposed to be scary to imagine the Operator killing a dog and then taking the time to draw on the window with its finger? Nothing is added to the lore here by having an eldritch horror sign its work in any way.

The "You can only see it through the camera" concept was interesting I guess -- not at all canon to the Marble Hornets lore, but interesting; unfortunately, it's kind of worn thin by the way the effects look. Always Watching puts itself at a detriment over Marble Hornets through the use of high quality cameras with HD pictures, but I think even if the quality had been lowered, the SFX in this movie would still look cheap and bad. The 'Operator' looks just, terrible, unfortunately, and even a lot of the camera glitches look way too obviously edited in. Still, I'd be willing to overlook it if the movie was at all interested in coming up with actual Reasons for its characters to do anything.

The use of cameras in this series is, ironically, a major detractor to its success if you put literally Any amount of thought into processing what you're seeing on screen. Having the characters work at a News station is a pretty good basis for giving them cameras to use all day, but the majority of the time a camera is on for like the first 70% of this movie, if you spend any time thinking about it you're wondering "Why do they have the camera on right now?". Always Watching doesn't know and isn't interested in telling you -- this is a Big aspect of the original Marble Hornets series that they clearly Noticed and wanted to replicate, but failed to put any effort into understanding why it was happening so that they could actually replicate it. Alex began filming himself 24/7 because he was experiencing deepset paranoia about 1) Losing time and 2) Encountering the Operator, and the camera's footage made it so that he would be able to notice when/if either happened.

But characters in Always Watching have the camera on all the time, even before there's Any reason for them to have the camera on. Why does Milo have a camera recording AND livestreaming the footage to a second computer monitor when he's looking at the Abandoned Home Movie footage for the first time, before he's seen any hint of the Operator on any footage at all? Why does he have a tripod for his camera to record him at night set up in his room before he's even considered the possibility that the Operator is following him? And even once he does have reason to be concerned: why does Milo go through the effort of setting up two separate screens to see livestreamed recording footage of himself in his home, and then deliberately turn in his seat so that he can watch a third screen and not see anything happening around him?

To that end, Always Watching also attempts to recreate a few iconic scenes from Marble Hornets, but again fails to put any thought into rationalizing WHY those things are happening in its movie. In the Home Movie footage, they attempt to recreate the Entry #44 shot of the Operator's shadow crossing over Alex while he sleeps, but why is that camera on? Again, this is footage from before the father has any suspicion that he's being stalked -- why did he wrap up his daughter's birthday party footage, and then leave the camera in her room at night instead of putting it away, and then leave the camera on and recording all night instead of turning it off? Always Watching is hoping you turned your brain Off to watch this movie, because it doesn't know. That makes the shot stupid, cheap, and ineffective; these moments caught your eye in Marble Hornets because it is weird that Alex records himself so often because it is a response to the deep and inescapable trauma and paranoia he's suffered over the years, it tells you that something is Wrong and has been for a WHILE -- you can't have the characters Start Off filming themselves 24/7 before they even get a chance to encounter the thing that's supposed to traumatize them!

Same applies for the moment Always Watching tries to recreate the Entry #12 footage of Alex failing to recognize the Operator and calling out to it like it's just some guy because he hasn't had that many -- if Any -- encounters with it yet. Ironically, this one moment has the exact Opposite problem from everything else I was just talking about. By this point in Always Watching, Milo is supposed to be deeply paranoid and terrified that the 'Operator' has followed him home and is actively stalking him. So why all of a sudden is he calling out to a guy in a suit in his backyard that isn't supposed to be there like it could possibly be just some guy who wandered by? If this shot had been included earlier, it would have made more sense, but instead they held onto it so long it's borderline incomprehensible to see it play out on screen.

Lore aside, it's also silly to the point of genuine annoyance how frequently the movie relies on cheap jumpscares. Even jumpscares that rely on the horror creature can be annoying if they're overused, but I'm not joking when I call the jumpscares in this movie 'cheap'. "Dog tried to steal some chips" jumpscare, "Coworker being a dick" jumpscare, "Character walked into a chandellier" jumpscare, "door closed" jumpscare, "broom fell over" jumpscare; like, come on, dude. If you're that afraid of being a psychological dread horror, why did you choose to adapt the psychological dread series?

There are exactly Two things I can almost begin to appreciate about this movie. The first is the inclusion of the Alex Kralie Missing Poster at the gas station the characters stop at when they're driving through Alabama; the filmmakers put it in here for a cheap easter egg, but unfortunately it was the perfect element to snag my attention and refuse to leave. I desperately want to know who cared about Alex enough to offer a reward for information on his disappearance. Anyway, the second thing that the writers theoretically put more thought into was the line from Rose about how her husband's refusal to "stop looking for him" is what allowed for the Operator to destroy their lives. And I say "theoretically" because the rest of the movie moves on as if she didn't say this, like the characters heard her tell them this and then they immediately forgot and decided to start talking about how maybe Milo -- who I guess became the "source" at some point? -- killing himself will be what drives the Operator away from the others. But the mere inclusion of my own theory regarding what sealed the fates of the Marble Hornets characters is enough to give this movie a single point in its favor.

Then Milo temporarily comes back from the dead to kill the others and it's like, well, there goes the good grace I guess.

I'll leave critiquing the same note the movie left off on: the final clip of the movie is the first clip from the Home Movie Family's home movie footage -- the moment the father buys the camera. He claims he got it from a garage sale in Alabama, that it has footage of "somebody's art film on it", implying that the reason the Operator started following him is that this camera used to belong to Alex. Here's the thing, though: there's no way in hell to make a consistent character beat out of Alex (or Tim) selling a camera with Marble Hornets footage on it when the entire culmination of his character is his terrified refusal to allow the spread of the Operator, no matter the cost or consequences. The movie ends on the same note it's been playing the entire run time: a cheap callback with absolutely no thought put into making it make any sense whatsoever, making it impossible to enjoy if you care even the slightest amount about the source material the film claims to be working with.

Clear Lakes 44