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How Internet Fiction Could Shape the Future of Scary Movies

‘The Patient Who Nearly Drove Me Out of Medicine’ is the latest horror adaptation to spring from Reddit. We see a trend slowly beginning to emerge.
The Voices
By  · Published on December 10th, 2018

The internet has its ups and downs, but it is positive for the most part. I mean, here we have a massive platform that allows creative types to unleash the fruits of their imagination on the world. Whether that’s filmmakers, writers, musicians, video game developers, or artists, the internet has been a gateway to overnight success for many a creator. However, even for those people who don’t achieve fame and fortune, at least they still have a place to share their passion projects. Not every talented person gets a chance to reach the big time, but when one unexpected newcomer does, it instills the belief that anything is possible.

Which brings me to some fun news. Variety reports that Ryan Reynolds will produce The Patient Who Nearly Drove Me Out of Medicine, a feature-length adaptation of Jasper Dewitt‘s short story. The tale was published on Reddit’s r/NoSleep forum back in 2016 and revolves around a psychiatrist who attempts to diagnose a mysterious patient with a reputation for driving people to suicide. The patient claims that he’s innocent, though, and the young doctor doesn’t know what to believe.

The Variety article also highlights that the movie rights were at the center of a competitive bidding war between studios before Twentieth Century Fox and New Regency emerged victoriously. No actors, directors, or writers have been hired yet, and early reports suggest that Reynolds will serve only as a producer. That said, I really hope he plays the patient and explores the darker side of his acting range, which we know he’s capable of as evidenced through the excellent Voices. Plus, he has a habit of oscillating between blockbusters and low-key fare, so don’t be surprised if he does play a part in this one.

The Patient Who Nearly Drove Me Out of Medicine follows this year’s Slender Man as the latest movie to spring from an internet phenomenon. It seems like Hollywood is finally taking notice of the spooky creations to emerge from niche corners of the web, which have given platforms to numerous writers and creators. Slender Man started life as a Creepypasta and subsequently inspired countless aspiring writers and artists to craft a mythology around him. These days, his legacy isn’t too dissimilar to that of the eerie urban legends and campfire tales which have inspired countless horror movies throughout the years. Maybe Slendie’s first film adaptation didn’t live up that impressive legacy, but when you look at his backstory, the potential to make a great fright flick was always there. Let’s hope Hollywood tries again at some point and gets it right.

Elsewhere, New Line recently acquired the rights to Dear David, a ghost story that was posted directly to Twitter by former BuzzFeed writer Adam Ellis. He claims the story to be true, but even if it wasn’t — and I’m not saying that Ellis doesn’t believe the haunting actually occurred — the tweets went viral and the studios came knocking on his door. Mike Van Waes, who’s penning the upcoming Conjuring Universe spinoff The Crooked Man, is handling script duties.

On the small screen, anthology series Channel Zero has also been adapting Creepypasta stories since 2016. The first series was based on Kris Straub‘s Candle Cove, a short story about a spooky children’s TV show that never existed. Season two turned to Brian Russell‘s No-End House story for inspiration, which takes place in a haunted home. In season three, Kerry Hammond‘s Search and Rescue Woods was brought to life. Finally, season four was based on Charlotte Bywater‘s Hidden Door. .

Filmmakers often mine literature for source material. Short stories, novels, and comic books are adapted for the screen frequently, but forum fiction is still an untapped market overall. Still, the popularity of these boards has resulted in popular podcast adaptations and audio dramas based on the stories found in the threads. The leap to film was bound to happen eventually. Now that we’re seeing this leap in motion, we could be witnessing the beginning of a future Hollywood horror trend.

The beauty of platforms like Reddit and similar forums is that they’ve allowed talented folks to make a name for themselves outside of traditional publishing routes. It’s not uncommon for creators who started publishing fiction on internet boards to go on and write their own successful novels afterward. I firmly believe that publishing via these outlets is every bit as credible as having your story picked up by a “legitimate” company. If an audience gravitates towards a story, it’s clearly made an impact. Given the instantaneous nature of the internet beast, it only takes one self-published story to go viral and it can capture the imagination just as effectively as any novel, comic, movie, TV show, or other form of entertainment. The fact that Hollywood came knocking on Dewitt’s door is proof of that.

Of course, if this trend is going to gather more steam, turning these stories into good movies is essential. The Patient Who Nearly Drove Me Out of Medicine is another opportunity to propel this area of storytelling into the mainstream spotlight. This could, in turn, bring more interest and eyes to the abundance of other terrifying treats out there. It also doesn’t hurt that some of these stories have established fan bases given the large community aspect of forums. There’s a goldmine of material out there just waiting to be milked by Hollywood, and more studios out to consider this prospect.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.