's 2017 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by NausicaƤ Harris

So there's this GIF that's been going around of a man holding a shaking gun that always seems to follow you around the room. I know how those work (it's actually a pretty clever animation technique), so I don't normally find them unsettling - but on this GIF, they say that if you watch it for long enough, the gun will fire a real bullet out of your screen and will kill you in real life.

So, you know, fairly typical "don't watch this, you guys!" stuff, except that I am the kind of very stupid and very paranoid person who wants desperately to prove that this can happen, despite the fact that it would probably mean her death. Which is why I sought out and found an actual copy of luger.gif. I am not, however, completely stupid, which is why I set up my test in the digital media lab. My experimental design was as follows: If the bullet comes out of the computer screen, then if I watch it on the projector, I won't get hit. If the bullet comes out of the nearest displaying device, then it will come out of the projector, not the projected image. And if it comes out of whatever image the person is watching, then if I tape over half of the projector, I can watch it from the side such that the gun's barrel will never manifest when pointing at me.

As it turns out, after a lot of extreme concentration and trial and error, luger.gif fires out of any displaying device on which it is being played after exactly one minute and eleven seconds of constant, uninterrupted - and I do mean uninterrupted, no blinking, no minor looks away - watching. I did leave two bullet holes in the DML wall, but I can deal with that, and of course I got a video on my phone (which I'd set up on a stand away from my face in case the bullet came out of the phone, but apparently it doesn't fire from recording devices).

However, what I wasn't able to see from the projector view was how the bullet actually manifested physically. Did it actually emerge from the screen? Did it just completely pop into existence in front of the screen and then zip off? It is not hard, in a studio art building, to find materials to build a crude periscope, so that's what I did. I hunkered down in front of the screen, watching the GIF intently for the required 71 seconds, recording it on my phone to be able to analyze it post facto.

BLAM. The shot went straight through the top of the periscope, punching through the mirror. I dropped the scope, rolling to the side, and then quickly turned my phone around to film the blood falling onto the carpet from a spot at about my head height in midair.

So, two things: one, I'm no longer worried about building services getting on my ass for the wall damage, and two, luger.gif isn't aiming for us.