Instead of doing the usual thing this Halloween, like watching Rosemary’s Baby for the tenth time, I decided to sample the surreal horror stylings of artificial intelligence.
A horror film written by AI is about as confused and incongruous as you’d imagine it would be. However, it is highly entertaining in its own right, with ill-fitting and even nonsensical dialogue and misfiring concepts making for an oddly enjoyable – if odd – few minutes.
The project, uploaded to the Netflix is a Joke YouTube channel, had a bot subjected to 400,000 hours of horror movie material before being tasked with producing its own horror movie script.
The result is either a horrifically bad attempt at a horror film – or it is a superb attempt at satire. If it’s the former, then we’ve nothing to worry about as far as AI being able to exercise genuine creativity or even display coherence.
On the other hand, if it’s the latter, then the bot in question has done a pretty good job.
I’m assuming it’s the former – but it’s almost tempting to consider the possibility (unlikely as it might be) that the bot was knowingly attempting parody: because this little film really does work as a satire of the horror genre, complete with references to well-known horror films and franchises, and with an almost mocking reference to tired horror-movie tropes.
You can easily see the allusions to things like the awful Saw franchise: and, with the female lead being named ‘Jennifer’, to things like Jennifer’s Body (the script even has the typically laboured exchange “How do you know my name?” “You have a body. Jennifers always have bodies”).
That being said, while the references to existing horror movies are evident, I have no idea where the falling whales came from… or the “underwater cop”: the bot must’ve pulled that from somewhere… unless this is an example of AI creativity/originality.
The short film has the either stupid or brilliant title of Mr. Puzzles Wants You to Be Less Alive. In my opinion, the film should’ve actually been called “Jennifer screams the scream of many sequels” – which is one of the many standout lines.
Occasionally some of the dialogue almost stumbles towards the unintentionally profound: lines like “Life is not earned by begging. Life is earned through doing puzzles” and “Hope you have coupon for coffin.” But I assume this is a case of the infinite monkeys and infinite typewriters thing.
By sheer fluke, some of the lines actually end up being pretty good: “Here, have some bullet” sounds like a great action-movie line, while the AI-generated script is either being nonsensical or profound with “He is drunk and haunted by sobriety…”
Yeah ok: so probably not satire. Probably just fledgling AI struggling to do anything more than just confusedly plagiarise concepts and tropes from the 400,000 hours of horror content it was made to wade through.
In fairness, sitting through that much horror movie content is torture in itself.
What’s clear is that the bot isn’t capable of producing entirely coherent or logical content from what it has been fed: nor even of producing dialogue that makes sense… or, for that matter, of having any meaningful grasp of human psychology and emotions or of characters.
But, given that the horror movie genre is in fact satire itself a lot of the time, and given that it’s probably the most cliche-heavy of all genres, you could argue there’s something knowing or intelligent about the bot’s approach.
If an AI was deliberately engaging in parody… well, that would certainly be an indicator of creativity.
Or… maybe I’m giving it too much credit. Equally possible is that I simply watched it too many times.
If anything, I found its confused narrative and lack of clear understanding almost cute: as if a child had been asked to craft a horror film. And maybe the bot *is* analogous to a child: and its film analogous to those crappy drawings little children do.
But you never know, right? A child making a messy and weird drawing today could be painting masterpieces twenty years down the line.
Check the film out anyway – it’s worth it, even if just for its comedy value. See it here.
More: ‘Tay’s Law: Or How to Hate Feminists & Love Hitler in Under 24 Hours‘, ‘Transcending the Uncanny Valley: AI & the Societal Landscape‘…
I would also like to apologise to readers and subscribers for not having published anything here for several weeks. I’ve been having some serious problems recently and it has made it very difficult to devote the time to content. New content will hopefully resume very shortly.