A shaky video shot in front of a gloomy, windowed brick wall and filled with coded messages has become an object of fascination in certain corners of the Internet, as Redditors and tech writers rush to try and figure out what it means — and why it even exists in the first place.
The video features a single figure, covered in a dark cloak and a death mask, who gestures to several different visual codes. The edits are short and jumpy, and the whole thing plays out with a grating, noisy soundtrack. It’s, well, very creepy.
An embed of the video is available below, in case you wanted to view for yourself. But please be warned that the video may contain graphic imagery, and also could turn out to be a viral marketing scheme. Also, please mind your device’s volume:
Internet sleuths have found earlier versions of the video available online on Youtube and 4Chan as early as May, but they went largely ignored at the time. The mystery took off last week — just in time for Halloween — when Johny Krahbichler of Gadgetzz blogged about it. “This Creepy Puzzle Arrived In Our Mail,” the headline reads.
Krahbichler also asked Reddit for help. Someone immediately created a spectrogram of the audio, which helped to deepen the mystery even more. The frequency visualizations contained a written message, “YOU ARE ALREADY DEAD.” Although the clarity varies between spectrogram-generating software, one spectrogram produced by Reddit user M4nic_H3dgehog (and more or less successfully replicated using the same software by us) contains detailed, and very, very graphic images of what appear to be one or multiple women being tortured.
Krahbichler doesn’t remember exactly when he received the CD containing the video, he said in an e-mail to the Intersect, because he ignored it at first. “I thought it was someone who wanted me to try out their software,” he said. He guesses it arrived in June; the package was sent from Poland to Gadgetzz’s address in Sweden. When the 20-year-old tech writer and university student eventually popped it in a spare laptop to take a look, he discovered the video.
The weirdest and most shocking news stories
The weirdest and most shocking news stories
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2/30 Couple find dead lizard inside the can of tomatoes
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3/30 Greggs (a bakery) has actually stopped selling loaves of bread
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4/30 Man trolls plane passengers by painting sign on his roof welcoming them to the wrong city
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5/30 Missing cat found after spending 64 days trapped inside a mattress
A family who thought they’d lost their cat as they prepared to move 3,000 miles across the US, were relieved when they found their pet inside a mattress some 64 days later. Moosie, a 2-year-old tabby cat, disappeared when Kymberly Chelf and her husband Jesse Chelf boxed up their belongings in preparation for their move from El Paso, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska. In early June, the family’s belongings arrived at their new home– along with a big part of their old life. When the Chelfs heard a meow coming from inside the box, Mrs Chelf said: "it just sounded like he [Moosie] was giving it everything he had just to let us know he was there." The cat had been trapped for over two months without light, food or water. Moosie emerged from the ordeal suffering from severe dehydration and with a damaged liver, but vets have said he is in a good condition, CNN reported
AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman
6/30 There's a lottery in which the prize is a 20-year supply of bacon
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7/30 Demonic CIA Osama Bin Laden doll goes up for sale at auction for $5,000
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Nate D. Sanders
8/30 The mystery of the 25-year-old Australian cat which turned up in Northern Ireland
An Australian cat has been mysteriously found in Northern Ireland, sparking speculation as to how he made the 12,000 mile journey. The ginger cat was picked up by Cat Protection helpers in County Armagh last week. When animal welfare officers took him to the vet for a health check, it was discovered that he had been micro-chipped in Australia. The plot thickened as the chip revealed he has also been found as a stray across the Irish Sea in London
Photo: Cat Protection
9/30 Replacement found after 'over-enthusiastic' bull breaks his own penis
A prize bull has had to be taken off his farmer’s breeding programme after he suffered a broken penis. The injury, which the Simmentall bull sustained at the beginning of the breeding season, was probably due to being “over-enthusiastic,” according to his owner, Tommy Moyles. According to the Irish Mirror, Mr Moyles was then forced to bring another bull, which was previously destined for the slaughterhouse, out to provide his services
Ian Forsyth/ Getty
10/30 Thieves steal four pints of bull semen from Minnesota farm
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Screengrab via CBS News
11/30 Charcoal has become the hot new flavouring
If you want to be in on the latest trend in Britain's restaurants and bars, you're going to have to feel - and indeed taste - the burn. Some words of comfort next time you overfry, overbake, overboil or otherwise burn your dinner to a crisp: charcoal, in all its dark and mysterious forms, is being embraced by some of the best in the food and drinks business. It's not just about cooking on a grill (although that's also a booming market), but charcoal as an actual ingredient – bringing flavour, colour, texture and a touch of playfulness to plates of food and bottles of juice. This news comes on the heels of Burger King Japan's Kuro Pearl offering, a burger with a jet-black bamboo charcoal bun, which met with a mix of hysteria and confusion upon its launch last year. It turns out that the fast food giant was bang on: charcoal is the new, well, black
Victor De Jesus
12/30 Woman claims ski accident has given her extraordinary mental powers
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ULI DECK/AFP/Getty Images
14/30 4-year-old leaves home at 3am to buy a 'Slushie' drink
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15/30 Little girl goes off on surprising tangent after being told she's going to be a big sister
It starts like one of those classic, schmaltzy parent-and-child YouTube videos. 3-year-old Kathryn's dad informs her in no uncertain terms that she's going to get a little sister. Kathryn pauses for a second, apparently stunned by the news. But no! There's no tearful excited, she just whispers "I farted"
16/30 Shia LaBeouf's heartbeat is now available for livestreaming
Walking Hollywood masterpiece Shia LaBeouf is offering the internet the chance to get closer to him than ever before. But don’t let that utterly terrify you – the actor’s latest offer has nothing to do with paper bags, paraphrasing footballers or running around museums in Amsterdam 144 times sporting lycra and a single dreadlock. Instead, the 28-year-old will be livestreaming his heartbeat for the next week as part of a new metamodern performance art piece with his previous #IAMSORRY collaborators Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner. The project, called Follow My Heart, was announced at the SXSW festival
17/30 What color is this dress?
The internet has been divided into two warring tribes by a picture of a dress functioning as an accidental colour perception experiment. #TheDress, as it has become known, was spotted by a blogger who turned to Tumblr for help when the garment started an argument among her friends. The question of whether it is blue and black or gold and white has divided friends, families and the celebrity world. This dress has sparked an internet frenzy the likes of which has not been seen since Left Shark took the Super Bowl by storm
18/30 Llamas on the run
The world didn't know how to contain itself when it saw two llamas running around a city but for motorists in Arizona’s Sun City, it was no doubt an a-lama-ing sight. Two of the animals, one black and one white, decided to dash through the centre of the city, doing their best to evade local residents trying to catch them. After a number of near things, the animals were captured by means of a lasso. The owner of the llamas told local media there had actually been three llamas that got spooked and ran away near the centre of the town. He said the animals were part of a mobile petting zoo at a Sun City care centre
19/30 Madonna falls off stage at Brit Awards
This year’s Brit awards ceremony looked set to fade from memory like so many others in recent history until Madonna fell down the stairs after a serious wardrobe malfunction. The queen of pop, 56, was making her first performance at the Brits in two decades, when just seconds into “Living for Love” she was pulled backwards down a flight of stairs by her backing dancers. She fell heavily on to her back, the long cape and hood she had been wearing failing to separate from her other clothes. She fell heavily on to her back, the long cape and hood she had been wearing failing to separate from her other clothes
20/30 'Left Shark' steals Super Bowl 2015 as Katy Perry is upstaged by her out-of-time support dancer
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21/30 Kim Kardashian breaks the internet
Kim Kardashian West has recreated the iconic "champagne incident" image by Jean-Paul Goude for the December issue of Paper magazine. Kardashian West is pictured on the cover of the magazine popping open a bottle of champagne which lands in a glass perched on her bottom. In another image released by the American publication, Kardashian-West is pictured naked from behind provocatively dropping her dress. Two further images were released by the magazine last night which show the reality TV star baring all; in one full-frontal shot and another topless image
22/30 Zombie cat
A US cat owner has been left baffled after he claimed his “dead” pet turned up outside his front door – five days after being buried. Ellis Hutson told vets in Tampa Bay, Florida, that he had found his black and white cat Bart lying in a pool of blood after he was hit by a car. According to Fox 13, Hutson told the Human Society of Tampa Bay that he had taken Bart away and buried him, and could not explain how the cat came to be spotted by neighbours a full five days later
23/30 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quit her job on live TV last night, outing herself as the owner of an Alaskan cannabis club and declaring "f*ck it." Having grown weary of reporting the news, Greene told viewers she would instead be putting all her energy into the fight to legalise marijuana in the state, having previously reported on the Alaska Cannabis Club without mentioning her connection to it
24/30 Nation in shock as Cadbury's changes the Creme Egg recipe
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25/30 Chocolate Digestives revelation could change the face of biscuit eating forever
Shut the biscuit tin, defenestrate your cup of tea, this is serious snack news: you have been eating chocolate biscuits upside down. Biscuits in fact have the chocolate on the bottom of the biscuit, not the top, McVitie's have confirmed, meaning Digestives, Hobnobs and more have a history of being eaten the wrong way up. The news sent shockwaves across the UK's subreddit, after a user posted an email from United Biscuits explaining their composition. "For your information," a spokesperson wrote, "the biscuits go through a reservoir of chocolate which enrobes them so the chocolate is actually on the bottom of the biscuits and not on the top"
26/30 Dollar store toy wand has hidden picture of demonic child cutting herself with a kitchen knife
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27/30 Hello Kitty is not a cat - she's a British girl
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29/30 Tesco cash machine offers 'free erection' because of mistake translating sign into Welsh
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30/30 Parrot returns to British owner speaking Spanish - four years after disappearing
Nigel, a grey African parrot, flew away from his home in California in 2010 but was returned to his British owner, Darren Chick, after he was discovered in Torrance, California. Although the Spanish-speaking bird bit Mr Chick when he first saw him, the happy owner said: "He's doing perfect.” Mr Chick says his bird’s British accent is gone, replaced by fluent Spanish – and someone called "Larry". Even though he has no idea where the bird has been for the last four years, he claimed: "It's really weird, I knew it was him from the minute I saw him"
“I was unsure what to think of it, but I found it very odd. I later reexamined it and started noticing the ‘codes’ and letters hidden all around the video. That’s when I realized it’s some sort of puzzle,” he said in an e-mail. “I didn’t really try that hard to solve it, but I had no luck either way.”
There are other decoded clues, too, including the coordinates to the White House, and a message that apparently reads RED LIPSLIFE TENTH. The DVD menu also produced additional clues, including an entirely different spectrogram of a skull and coded messages, including what appear to be wingdings.
Krahbichler’s post got an immense response online, he said, especially once Gizmodo picked up the story. “Of course I have no idea what the final solution is, but safe to say I’m more intrigued than ever,” he wrote.
Although engrossing video mysteries like this one aren’t quite a daily occurrence on the Web, there’s a thriving cottage industry of creepy content out there for anyone looking for a good scare. The popular subreddit r/NoSleep specializes in this sort of thing in the form of short stories, for instance. But this video is particularly intriguing for some. It comes with the typical hallmarks of an intentionally creepy, but ultimately harmless, film: weird costumes, jump scares and an anonymous industrial location. But then, encoded in that packaging, there appear to be some genuinely disturbing images, leading some to speculate that the story behind the video will be the scariest reveal of all.
The whole thing appears ready-made for a good Halloween scare video — maybe a little too ready-made for some sleuths. But with its origins still a mystery, wild speculation is everywhere as to what the real purpose of this video. Here are a few of the theories being floated:
It’s creepypasta, or it’s a joke
The idea of a coded video containing a bountiful salad full of disturbing images and ideas has some assuming that the whole thing was created as a joke. Or at least as an attempt to make creepypasta — the fictional images and stories that circle the Web because of their intriguing ability to horrify.
“My first response, after I realized it was a puzzle, was that it’s probably some sort of joke,” Krahbichler told us.” He “got a bit scared” after some of the more disturbing parts of the video were decoded, he said, but now, “I’m starting to think again it’s just an elaborate joke.”
Not everyone’s totally buying it, though:
It’s a scary/dumb prank on Krachbichler
Others have suggested that someone is playing a trick on Krachbichler personally, perhaps one of his friends. But Krahbichler doubts it. “If the person who sent it knew me personally, they would know I don’t have the expertise to crack it, at least not the whole thing,” he said to us. Plus, although it appears he’s the first news outlet to receive a copy of the video, there are two other YouTubers who uploaded copies earlier this year.
The earliest comes from YouTuber aetbx — this is the only video on his account, and it was uploaded in May. Barely anyone watched it until this weekend. As the view count started climbing Monday morning, aetbx dove into the comments to ask, “This video was uploaded about 5 months ago, why everyone is interested?”
The YouTuber, who identified himself as Daniel from Spain in an email to the Intersect, said that he received a digital copy of the video from a girl he says he didn’t previously know, who told him that she “was sitting in the Park and found the DVD” containing the video. Daniel, who speaks limited English, says he has “no idea” who made it. He uploaded it months ago to see what other people thought, but “no one saw it,” he said. That is, until Monday. The video had just a handful of views going into the weekend; now it’s up to more than 10,000 views.
Daniel has taken to the YouTube comments section of his own video to push back against suspicious sleuths who believe that he created the film.
On Gadgetzz, Krahbichler notes that the same video was posted to a paranormal 4chan forum in May, where the original poster also claimed he or she found the video on a park bench.
It’s a serial killer
Based on the disturbing images contained in the spectrogram, it is easy to see why some might come to this conclusion.
“I was pretty scared when people started to suggest it’s a serial killer,” Krahbichler said. “Although it seems someone had found one of the ‘gruesome’ images on Google, making that seem doubtful.”
He remains cautiously skeptical that the video might pose a danger to him or to others, especially since the whole thing feels more like how a film maker might depict the mind of a killer than anything based in real life. There are other questions nagging at him, too, like why would a real serial killer send the video to him, and not to a bigger news outlet, or directly to the police?
It’s a marketing stunt
It hasn’t escaped the minds of some that the whole thing could be a marketing scheme. Draw in the collective attention of Reddit’s best sleuths — and with them, the media — and then reveal that the video’s true meaning is that we should all go buy some sort of commodity or other.
If the video is a marketing scheme, then whoever’s behind it will probably have to explain why they chose to incorporate several disturbing images of what appear to be the brutal torture and deaths of multiple women.
But it’s still a possibility, and one commenter had a very specific idea of what this video could be.
Additionally, a Redditor from Poland (the country from where the video was mailed) said that it resembled a lot of amateur Youtube productions from there. “Our bets are that this is a indie videogame promotional, since our fledgling studios don’t have large budgets for “standard” advertisement,” 9u4d wrote. “Plus a few years ago we had another “creepy” YouTube video stunt called “Poradnik Uśmiechu” (“Smile Guide”). It was actually quite good as a spoof ’80s/’90s kids tv series, and was a student art project. But I don’t think its the same crew — they had way better production values.”
Whatever it is, Krahbichler is just happy he could give the curious something to talk about. “What’s so amazing is the engagement, people are reposting it everywhere and there are so many comments around the web,” he said.
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