Everyone talks about the sensation of the hairs standing up on the back of the neck. I never quite understood it; hairs don’t literally stand up, do they? How could you feel them anyway; they’re hairs! Never before had I understood this sensation until I watched Petscop. In bed alone at 2:00AM with no one else home and all of the lights out, I watched the newest batch of Petscop episodes. Then I felt it, the sensation horror junkies have been raving about all this time. It was euphoric, an enigmatic pleasure finally chased down and snuffed into my sweaty grasp.
This is all to say that I’ve found the greatest horror series of all time, and by God I have no intention of shutting up about it. A failure to spread its praise would only be an insult to the most abused and mistreated genre in all of visual media.
Petscop derives much of its effectiveness from its unparalleled use of its medium. You see, it takes the form of a standard, run of the mill YouTube let’s play. If you’re not familiar with the genre, a great place to start would be over on Chuggaconroy’s YouTube channel. Although I don’t tend to find myself consuming much of his content nowadays (my current LP sensibilities fall more in the lines of the Digibros/Vic &Hope school of podcasting over game footage) Chugga can’t help but be the first to pop in my mind when textbook exampling the medium. Find a game in his completed library that tickles your fancy, relax with an episode or two, and come back to me when you’re brain is finally in line with the drooling zoomers razor-scootering around the Panera parking lot. The “no loitering” sign is there for a reason after all.
Classic memories rising under this humid, NYC twilight. Another sip of the Grapefruit Shandy centers me, bringing me back to the freezing-cold embrace of Newmaker and his funny friends. Petscop is a let’s play of a game that doesn’t actually exist. Within the confines of this unmatched context unfolds a complex narrative web unparalleled in modern horror media (other than in the works of Wham City Comedy, arguably the best creatives actively working today). Well, maybe I’ll throw in Hi I’m Mary, Mary too, just to credit whichever anonymous genius is behind that series.
Upon first viewing, the narrative of Petscop is as incomprehensible as an End of Evangelion viewing in high school. Much like its unorthodox medium compatriot Friendship is Witchcraft, the show is built around the trust that, with each new batch of episodes released, you’ll go back and watch every episode before it. Before you scoff and close the tab like the impatient degenerate you are, I must clarify that this rewatch isn’t very hard to accomplish. We’re not reading One Piece here. Only 21 episodes currently exist, ranging anywhere from 2-27 minutes depending on the breadth of content our mysterious creator wants us to see.
Even though Petscop is a raging case study in Medium is the Message theory, that’s not why I, a wounded warrior of the horror media war, deems it to be the scariest series ever created. Petscop takes ingredients that would be unthreatening on their own, and stews them together in a melting pot of tone and atmosphere to create the aforementioned sensation I so desperately crave from my horror. A cute, pixelated protagonist, polygonical windmills, unique Pokemon-like pets, all non-threatening on their own. But put them all together in the thickening soup of atmosphere and genius abuse of the let’s pay medium and you have a fear as pure as a nightmare after an Endless Jess binge.
In its current stage of evolution, the plot leaves little for me to describe to newcomers, and even less for me to spoil without context if you’re that worried. The medium is always the message, but never more so than in Petscop. Years of soulless horror has left me chasing a sensation that only Petscop was able to give me, and that’s all you need to know. Watch it, watch it all! Watch it two times, three times, 21 times if you’re doing it right. The waning life of the horror genre depends on it!
Thus concludes the ravings of a homeless, Horror Media War veteran who finally found a shelter for the night.