What Are the Backrooms?

What Are The Backrooms?

Unveiling the Mystery Surrounding the Backrooms

Previous generations gathered around campfires to share spine-chilling tales like “The Hook.” However, with the advent of the digital age, the torch has been passed to modern generations who disseminate eerie stories online through platforms like “creepypasta.” From the infamous Slenderman and Sirenhead to the recent emergence of the Backrooms, our obsession with horror stories continues to evolve.

The Backrooms can be described as an amalgamation of aesthetics and horror. Its inexplicably surreal nature is instantly recognizable, evoking a sense of dread. Initially comprising a maze of yellow rooms and corridors, this seemingly abandoned space is limitless, instilling a haunting nostalgia. The first image of the Backrooms, along with subsequent online depictions, taps into our collective memories and deepest fears.

Andrew Quist, the mastermind behind the Backrooms-inspired video game “Anemoiapolis,” explains that the Backrooms aim to transform familiar, faceless architecture into something not just malevolent but possibly the main antagonist itself.

The Backrooms: A Fusion of Creepy, Nostalgic, and Surreal Elements

What Are The Backrooms?

The Backrooms dwell at the thematic crossroads of creepiness, nostalgia, sadness, and surrealism. Its content overlaps with hashtags such as #dreamcore, #weirdcore, #abandonedplaces, #poolcore, and #liminalspaces.

Digital artist onion.wave reveals that the allure of the Backrooms and similar Liminal Spaces lies in the unsettling feeling of déjà vu. These spaces might resemble places from childhood, dreams, or even old video games. There’s an uncanny blend of uneasiness and nostalgia that paradoxically provides a soothing experience.

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TikToker Kalizarae, echoing these sentiments, suggests that we have all encountered that peculiar feeling of eerie nostalgia, a sense of otherworldliness and solitude. It can be as simple as strolling down a deserted corridor in a long-forgotten movie theater. For some, this unsettling ambiance is truly enthralling and spine-tingling.

The Genesis of the Backrooms

The Backrooms made their initial appearance through an anonymous post on the /x/ board of 4chan on May 12th, 2019. The post sought submissions of disquieting images that exude an unsettling aura. Vice reports that one user shared a now-infamous picture of a dilapidated, yellow office space, complete with tan carpets and flickering fluorescent lights. This single image would go on to define the visual aesthetic of the Backrooms.

An anonymous comment left beneath the picture eventually solidified the narrative of the Backrooms. The comment described a space encompassing a mind-boggling expanse of 600 million miles of yellow wallpaper. Damp rugs and the incessant humming of fluorescent lights added to the atmosphere of vague dread, hinting at something lurking in the distance. To enter the Backrooms, one must inadvertently “no-clip” out of reality—a reference to the ability to traverse through walls experienced in video games.

The Emergence of Viral Backrooms Content

What Are The Backrooms?

The Backrooms lore transcended 4chan and Reddit, becoming a cultural phenomenon as users shared stories, images, TikToks, viral YouTube content, and even indie video games.

On January 7th, 2022, director and VFX artist Kane Pixels uploaded a highly-produced and influential video titled “The Backrooms (Found Footage)” to YouTube. This masterpiece has garnered over 33 million views to date. The footage begins with a cameraperson plunging into the void, seamlessly transitioning into the unmistakable yellowed corridors of the Backrooms. The abandoned VHS camera captures a prolonged, haunting journey down a seemingly endless hallway, slowly revealing the harsh light of the fluorescents. Over a span of 9 minutes and 13 seconds, the found-footage-style recording introduces a distinct horror element to the Backrooms mythology. Kane Pixels has since crafted 11 YouTube videos, further expanding this terrifying and intricately woven narrative.

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Decoding the Enigma of Liminal Spaces

Liminal spaces, by definition, exist in a state of transition or in-betweenness. Backrooms content often closely aligns with the concept of liminality. Digital artist liminal_akiyo suggests that Liminal Spaces and the Backrooms are practically synonymous. onion.wave emphasizes that the Backrooms epitomize the ultimate liminal space, captivating audiences with lingering feelings of isolation and fear of the unknown.

Drawing from personal experiences, liminal_akiyo’s foray into Backrooms content creation in April 2022 was fueled by a fascination with the sensation of loneliness and the deep-rooted fear associated with the unfamiliar. Childhood memories of accompanying their grandmother, who worked night shifts in an educational institution, evoked a sense of disquiet, particularly within the dimly lit, empty corridors.

Looking Ahead: The Future of the Backrooms

During a recent interview with Inverse, Dan Erickson, the creator of “Severance,” revealed that the Backrooms served as an inspiration for the show. As we speak, active subreddits, creative minds, and video game designers continue to breathe life into the Backrooms. The prospect of witnessing its metamorphosis into movies and TV shows seems inevitable. Like any genuine cultural phenomenon, the Backrooms have grown organically, reflecting our collective fascination. However, its future trajectory, whether it evolves or becomes diluted and uninteresting, remains a subject of debate.

Video game designer Andrew Quist believes that the day the Backrooms become a calculated financial venture for TV networks is the day it loses its allure for the creative minds behind it. Presently, the Backrooms remain a captivating and fertile ground for fresh ideas.


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