You’re alone and disoriented, to the waist in the pool water. Wandering aimlessly through the interior room with wall-to-wall tiles, your memory escapes you. After going through a light-soaked door, the next room is a pool and the next room. Shit. Your anxiety swells, but you soon find a small ledge to get out of the water.
There is no time to relax. A chill runs down your spine as you hear a mysterious splash in the distance. As you try to take a clear look, something disappears around the corner. We continue walking along the ledge. The splashes sound closer. A hike becomes a trot that becomes a sprint. Slips, falls and bangs your head against the wet tile while everything turns black. When you wake up with the smell of chlorine, everything starts to come back. You are trying to escape from the back rooms.
What are backrooms?
Backrooms are not a real place. According to Vice, the concept originated at 4chan in 2019 with a single weird image of a fluorescent lighted interior. The original photo provoked a strong reaction from the internet and it is difficult to grasp its essence. Often described as an office space, the image shows no furniture or people. The viewer looks through an entrance covered in mismatched yellow wallpaper and an empty room covered in a cheap brown carpet. Another open passage can be partially seen, but the view is obstructed.
In response to the photo, the online posters imagined a place beyond our world, an abandoned maze full of wet carpets that can only be reached by sliding through the cracks of reality. In video game culture, this break from reality is often known as non-clipping. The unreal place is divided into levels with different environments, potential monsters, and survival ratings.
Backrooms are considered a creepypasta and follow in the footsteps of Slender Man around 2010, but the concept is older. A crowd of people on the Internet are obsessed with a scary basic idea. They write heaps of fanfiction that expand the horror story, extend it to their own vision, and venture away from any original intent. Viral videos by amateur filmmakers spark more public interest.
I first came across Backrooms creepypasta during an insomnia attack last month. I was recommended a YouTube video titled “The Pool Rooms (Found Footage)” from Jared Pike’s channel. In the video, a camera operator wades through shallow water. My first two paragraphs above are an imaginary encounter within his creation. The New York City-based artist’s Instagram page is a bastion of partially submerged interiors.
In the video description, Pike credits Kane Pixels as an influence. Pixels is the online pseudonym of a 16-year-old California visual effects artist. His most popular video, from early 2022, “The Backrooms (Found Footage)”, has more than 26 million views on YouTube. A famous figure in the subreddit r / active backrooms, the praise Pixels receives is well deserved. His recent video “Backrooms – Pitfalls” is truly terrifying with a sleek, high-value production that includes the use of the Rokoko Smartsuit Pro II’s motion capture.