Indigenous Media heads back to the Sickhouse

Jake Avnet shares the secrets behind the Snapchat-distributed film's frightening social success as his digital prodco reboots with a scary sequel.
July 13, 2016

There’s a sequel coming for Sickhouse, the Snapchat-native, real-time horror film released by Indigenous Media earlier this year.

That much we know. The bigger question is when? And that’s when things get a little hazy.

Jake Avnet, Indigenous COO, told StreamDaily that viewers can expect the sequel “when they least expect it.”

It’s a non-answer, he admitted, but being vague is kind of the point of the digital franchise.

“That was the fun of the first movie — not knowing what to expect. We’re acknowledging that this movie is coming, but other than that — the casting, the plot — it’s going to happen when people least expect,” said Avnet.

The first film — which centered around YouTuber Andrea Russett (pictured) and Sean O’Donnell portraying fictionalized versions of themselves, as well as Russett’s “cousin” Taylor (played by actor Laine Neil) — capitalized on spontaneity the lure of the unexpected. Marketing of the story began days before the first “snap” of the original film was uploaded when Indigenous began staging flirtatious interactions between the two main characters, Russett and O’Donnell, on Twitter as if they were talking in real life.

When the film started appearing on Snapchat on April 29 (via Russett’s Snapchat profile), many viewers weren’t even aware that they were watching a scripted film. However, as the 70 minutes of horror content played out over five days, viewers were hooked, with fan commentary and shares exploding on Snapchat, as well as Facebook and Twitter.  According to Avnet, the level of interactivity was so high, some Snapchat users created fake social media accounts for certain characters in the film in an attempt to deepen the mystery for audience members.

“The reaction was very overwhelming. Because it was real-time on Snapchat, we literally got to see reactions to scenes that were taking place right as they were taking place — not just on Snapchat but also on Twitter and Facebook,” said Avnet.

“It was a kind of crazy thing, but it really showed the level of interactivity and how engaged people were becoming cross-platform.”

In all, the film saw more than 100 million views on Snapchat and has since become available for transactional download on Vimeo and BitTorrent and the Fullscreen SVOD.

Indigenous is now looking to recapture that magic, and that means keeping most the details about the second film — from when it will be released to what the title will be and who will star — under a tight lid.

About the only thing Avnet could confirm about the second film is that it will happen.

“What makes this movie interesting is the way we tell the story, but we also think it happens to be a really rich film franchise with a lot of different angles to go down,” he said.

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