FINAL GIRLS BERLIN ’20 – ‘Tingle Monsters’ is the First ASMR Horror, but Hopefully not the Last

For many, ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is a tool used for relief and relaxation, and with a subsection of YouTube entirely committed to the ASMR fan base, its rapid growth in popularity offers the perfect setting for a tale of tranquil horror. In Tingle Monsters, ASMR is a creepy contrivance. It’s an insight into the experience of the internet, through the lens of a woman and her live stream. The ten minute short captivates with its uncomfortable and realistic appearance, opting to use a screenlife format, allowing us to see everything intimately from the perspective of a webcam. Written and directed by Alexandra Serio, Tingle Monsters subtly begs you to look at what we’ve come to accept as a ‘normal’ experience for the film s finds its footing, asserting itself in an immersive ‘real’ experience. 

Dee (Serio), an ASMR streamer, returns to the internet after a recent break, and social media blackout, much to the enthusiasm of her fans. Naturally, all is not as it seems and Tingle Monsters gradually radiates unease throughout. The use of ASMR is not just some quirky gimmick to keep this short relevant, but rather a tactical narrative device. Easing us in and crafting a comfortably familiar environment like any good horror should, the pacing and suspense of Serio’s short is smart in the delivery of its message. What unfolds is a tale rooted in depicting, not only the harsh realities of internet culture, but a commonly devastating experience women are subject to – just for being women. 

An uncomfortable watch, Tingle Monsters leaves a lasting impression long after the ten minutes is over, prompting every viewer to take a sobering look at just one fraction of the female experience, in all its grisly glory. 

Tingle Monsters screened at Final Girls Berlin Film Festival on February 7th as part of the Social Ills Shorts Programme

By Kelsie Dicksinson

Kelsie Dickinson is a super-gay wannabe film-maker. She loves independent cinema, especially horrors and films with nice lighting. Her favourite films are Lost in Translation, the original Evil Dead and It Follows. You can follow her on twitter @punkrocket_ and under the same user on instagram.

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