7 of the scariest analog horror movies and shows to make you feel uneasy

You ever get the feeling you just started watching something that no one was ever meant to see?
Archive 81. Episode 102 of Archive 81. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2021
Archive 81. Episode 102 of Archive 81. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2021 /

Analog horror is a subgenre designed to emulate the feeling of watching an old VHS tape—the creepier, the better. It is similar to found-footage horror, except in analog, it's more about the content than the characters. In many analog horror movies, like the recent hit Skinamarink, you don't see or learn anything about the person recording it.

Found-footage movies usually give you the sense of watching a scary story unfold to a person or group of people who soon become the victim of something horrific. I think an excellent analog horror movie gives you the sense that you've stumbled upon something that no one was ever supposed to see, something hidden in a seemingly innocuous old videotape, kind of like when people accidentally view the cursed videotape at the center of The Ring.

Not all of the entries on this list are fully analog horror, but they're either filmed like one, or they heavily feature characters finding creepy old videotapes and experiencing the analog horror themselves.

Censor (2021)

Censor is not only a fantastic example of in-universe analog horror, but it's one of my favorite horror movies of all time, and one I feel is very underrated. This 2021 British psychological horror film is set in the mid-80s, during the height of the "video nasty" era.

While not filmed as analog horror, the film's protagonist, Enid Baines, works for a film classification company. It's her job to watch old tapes and determine what content is too explicit and needs to be cut. As you might expect, she soon stumbles upon a disturbing tape that links to her sister's disappearance and goes down a dark rabbit hole from there.

V/H/S franchise

Given the franchise's title, V/H/S is probably the most popular example of "mainstream" analog horror, although many of its segments are filmed as found footage. The idea of the franchise is still that people stumble upon creepy old videos and are unaware of what they might contain. There have been six main films, most of which are currently streaming on Hulu and/or Shudder.

Broadcast Signal Intrusion (2021)

Like Censor, Broadcast Signal Intrusion centers on a character (played by Harry Shum Jr.) who stumbles upon an old videotape. A video archivist finds a series of old tapes featuring broadcast signal intrusions or pirated broadcasts where someone hijacks a television station to air disturbing content.

James (Shum Jr.) soon realizes that the old tapes might contain clues to the disappearance of several women, including his wife. The film is also loosely inspired by real-life broadcast signal intrusions like the 1987 Max Headroom incident.

The Backrooms (2022)

Even if you haven't seen the original web series, odds are you have heard of the Backrooms or heard people reference it. The Backrooms really focuses on liminal horror, playing with the uncanny and sense of ominous foreboding people often feel when entering what the internet refers to as a "liminal space," usually a place of transition, like an airport or an abandoned building that has a melancholy, or even surreal, atmosphere.

It's hard to describe unless you actually watch the short films or have been to one of these spaces in person. The web series is available on creator Kane Parson's YouTube channel, and an A24 horror film based on the horror shorts is currently in development.

Archive 81 (2022)

A perfect follow-up to Censor and Broadcast Signal Intrusion, Archive 81 was a brilliant and (sadly) short-lived Netflix series starring Mamadou Athie as a video archivist who finds old tapes featuring a woman investigating a mysterious cult. The more he watches the tapes, the further he's drawn into a dark conspiracy connecting the past to his present.

Even though the series was canceled after season 1, it's still available to stream on Netflix. And the show was based on a popular podcast of the same name that is perfect for anyone looking to get more into analog horror stories.

Skinamarink (2023)

Skinamarink is another popular entry on this list, though it's also the most polarizing. But it's probably the most accurate representation of analog horror as a whole. It's a very experimental supernatural film, so it's one of those movies that you'll either love or hate.

The story is simple yet haunting. It follows two kids who wake up one night to find their parents missing and the doors and windows slowly disappearing. It becomes apparent that a supernatural entity is inside the house, forcing the kids to try and understand what's happening to them. It's very focused on establishing a specific atmosphere and tone. It's best watched in the middle of the night, alone. Now streaming on Shudder and Hulu.

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