The Backrooms

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An image of the Backrooms. A large, open room with carpet, fluorescent lights and yellow wallpaper. A gap in the wall shows similar rooms extending without limits.
A typical depiction of the Backrooms, digitally rendered

The Backrooms are a fictional concept originating from a creepypasta posted on a 2019 4chan thread. One of the best-known examples of the Internet aesthetic of liminal spaces, which depicts usually busy locations as unnaturally empty, the Backrooms was first described as a maze of empty office rooms that can only be entered by "noclipping out of reality".

As its popularity grew, internet users expanded upon the original concept by creating different levels and entities which inhabit the Backrooms. Fan-made video games, collaborative fiction wikis and YouTube videos have also been created: a series of horror shorts created by YouTuber Kane Parsons in 2022 is credited with popularizing Backrooms content on the mainstream internet, and he is slated to direct a film adaptation of his Backrooms videos.


Original creepypasta

On May 12, 2019, an anonymous user started a thread on /x/, 4chan's paranormal-themed board, asking users to "post disquieting images that just feel 'off'".[1][2] One of the posts was the original photo of the Backrooms: a picture of a large carpeted, open room with yellow wallpaper and fluorescent lighting on a Dutch angle.[3] It is not known where the photo was taken,[4] but it appeared in an earlier thread on April 21, 2018.[5]

Another user replied to this post with the first description of the Backrooms:[4]

If you're not careful and you noclip[a] out of reality in the wrong areas, you'll end up in the Backrooms, where it's nothing but the stink of old moist carpet, the madness of mono-yellow, the endless background noise of fluorescent lights at maximum hum-buzz, and approximately six hundred million square miles of randomly segmented empty rooms to be trapped in
God save you if you hear something wandering around nearby, because it sure as hell has heard you

— Anonymous, 4chan (May 13, 2019)[1]

Growth and fandom

Some stories about the Backrooms include malevolent creatures.

Days after the original creepypasta,[5] users began to share stories about the Backrooms on subreddits such as r/creepypasta and later r/backrooms.[2] A fandom began to develop around the Backrooms and creators expanded upon the original iteration of the creepypasta by creating additional floors or "levels" and entities which populate them.[4][6] Happy Mag noted in particular two other levels: Level 1, a level with industrial architecture, and Level 2, a darkly lit level with long service tunnels, with the original version named Level 0.[6]

As new levels were devised in r/backrooms, a faction of fans who preferred the original Backrooms split off from the fandom. A Reddit user named Litbeep created another subreddit called r/TrueBackrooms focusing only on the original version. ABC News said that unlike fandoms surrounding existing properties, the lack of a canonical Backrooms made "drawing a line between authentic storytelling and jokes" difficult.[2][4] By March 2022, r/backrooms had over 157,000 members.[2]

The fandom steadily expanded onto other platforms with the upload of videos on Twitter and TikTok.[5] Wikis hosted on Fandom and Wikidot dedicated to the Backrooms lore were established.[7] Dan Erickson, creator of the television series Severance (2022), named the Backrooms as one of his many influences while working on the series.[8]


An example of a liminal space. This is an image of a long, empty hallway.
The Backrooms have been associated with an internet aesthetic known as liminal spaces, which include "images of eerie and uninhabited spaces", such as the above empty hallway.[9]

Some sources believe the Backrooms to have been the origin of the internet aesthetic of liminal spaces,[5] which depict usually busy locations as unnaturally empty. The #liminalspaces hashtag has amassed nearly 100 million views on TikTok.[9][10] A TikTok trend of videos that zoom in on Google Earth to reveal an entrance to the Backrooms have grown popular.[11][12]

PC Gamer compared the Backrooms' various levels to H. P. Lovecraft's R'lyeh and The City in the manga Blame!, describing it as "an uncanny valley of place".[11] ABC News and Le Monde grouped the Backrooms into an "emerging genre of collaborative online horror" which also includes the SCP Foundation.[4][7] Kotaku said that this collaborative aspect, as well as the lack of overt horror or threat, made the Backrooms stand out from other creepypastas.[5] Both Kotaku and Tama Leaver, professor of internet studies at Curtin University, felt that the Backrooms was scary "because [it invites] you to interpret what's not shown". While Leaver believed that the "eerie feeling of familiarity" helped draw fans together, Kotaku said that the horror was in part derived from the subtle "wrongness" present in liminal spaces.[2][5]



In January 2022, a short horror film titled The Backrooms (Found Footage) was uploaded to YouTube. Created by then-16-year-old Kane Parsons of Northern California, known online as Kane Pixels, it is presented as a VHS tape recorded by a filmmaker who accidentally enters the Backrooms in the 1990s and is pursued by a monster.[13][14] Parsons used the software Blender and Adobe After Effects to create the environment of the Backrooms, and it took him a month to complete it. He described the Backrooms as a manifestation of a poorly remembered recollection of the late 90s and early 2000s.[2][4] The video has over 54 million views as of November 2023.[15][16]

The short was praised by the fandom[15] and received positive reviews from critics. WPST called it "the scariest video on the Internet".[17] Otaku USA categorized it as analog horror,[18] while Dread Central and Nerdist compared it favorably to the 2019 video game Control.[19][20] Kotaku praised the series for exercising restraint in its horror and mystery.[5] Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza predicted that the Backrooms, like the creepypasta Slender Man and its panned 2018 film adaptation, would eventually be adapted into a "slick but dismal 2-hour Hollywood movie."[21]

Expanding his videos into a series of sixteen shorts,[22] Parsons introduced plot aspects such as ASYNC, an organization which opened a portal into the Backrooms in the 1980s and conducted research within it.[4][5] The series has collectively garnered over 100 million views.[23] It is also credited with lifting the Backrooms from obscurity into the mainstream internet and causing a surge in Backrooms content,[5][11] particularly on YouTube.[24] For his shorts, Parsons received a Creator Honors at the 2022 Streamy Awards from The Game Theorists.[25]

Film adaptation

On February 6, 2023, A24 announced that they are working on a film adaptation of the Backrooms based on Parsons' videos, with Parsons directing. Roberto Patino is set to write the screenplay, while James Wan, Michael Clear from Atomic Monster, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen, and Dan Levine of 21 Laps are set to produce.[13][22]

Video games

The Backrooms have been adapted into numerous video games, including on the platforms Steam and Roblox.[11][15][26] An indie game was released by Pie on a Plate Productions two months after the original creepypasta,[27] and was positively reviewed for its atmosphere but received criticism for its short length.[3][28][29] Many others, such as Enter the Backrooms, Noclipped and The Backrooms Project, were released in the following years.[26] Co-op multiplayer Escape the Backrooms by Fancy Games was praised by Bloody Disgusting for its depiction of the extended lore,[22][30] while The Backrooms 1998 (both 2022), a psychological survival horror game independently released by one-person developer Steelkrill Studio, was noted by reviewers for its found footage visuals and limited save system.[31][32]

See also


  1. ^ No clipping is a video game term for commands which allow the player to go through solid walls and objects.[6]


  1. ^ a b "unsettling images". 4chan (4plebs). May 12, 2019. Archived from the original on February 1, 2022. Retrieved January 31, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lloyd, Andrew (March 29, 2022). "The Backrooms: How a Creepy Office Photo Became an Internet Bogeyman". Vice. Archived from the original on November 30, 2022. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Sandal, Michael L (April 30, 2020). "'The Backrooms Game' Brings a Modern Creepypasta to Life [What We Play in the Shadows]". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Dobuski, Michael (November 6, 2022). "The Backrooms: Horror storytelling goes online". ABC News. Archived from the original on November 8, 2022. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Walker, John (April 4, 2023). "The 4Chan Creepypasta That's Taking Over The World (And You May Not Even Realize It)". Kotaku. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c Patston, Manning (August 3, 2021). "The Backrooms: an eerie phenomenon lies behind these familiar hallways". Happy Mag. Archived from the original on February 1, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Benoit-Gonin, Corentin (April 29, 2022). "" The Backrooms ", " Fondation SCP " : pour faire peur, ils écrivent leurs histoires à plusieurs" [The Backrooms, SCP Foundation: they write their stories to scare]. Le Monde (in French). Archived from the original on February 12, 2023. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  8. ^ Francisco, Eric (February 24, 2022). "Severance reveals the 'scary' and 'surreal' underbelly of office work in 2022". Inverse. Archived from the original on March 5, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Yalcinkaya, Günseli (April 14, 2021). "Inside the uncanny world of #liminalspaces TikTok". Dazed. Archived from the original on January 31, 2022.
  10. ^ Koch, Karl Emil (November 2, 2020). "Architecture: The Cult Following Of Liminal Space". Musée Magazine. Archived from the original on December 17, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d Wickens, Katie (July 7, 2022). "Noclipping is no joke: the strange world of The Backrooms explained". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 30, 2022. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  12. ^ Dirga, Nik (July 7, 2022). "WA island bunker image is a mysterious dose of fantasy". AAP Factcheck. Archived from the original on November 30, 2022. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  13. ^ a b Grobar, Matt (February 6, 2023). "'The Backrooms' Horror Film Based On Viral Shorts By 17-Year-Old Kane Parsons In Works At A24, Atomic Monster, Chernin & 21 Laps". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 6, 2023. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  14. ^ Fuster, Jeremy (February 6, 2023). "YouTube Horror Hit 'The Backrooms' to Be Made Into A24 Feature Film by Its Teenage Creator". TheWrap. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  15. ^ a b c Rogers, Reece (May 11, 2022). "How to 'No-Clip' Reality and Arrive in the Backrooms". Wired. Archived from the original on July 10, 2022. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  16. ^ Parsons, Kane (January 6, 2022). The Backrooms (Found Footage) (Short film). YouTube. Kane Pixels. Archived from the original on January 30, 2022. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  17. ^ Russell, Erica (January 17, 2022). "'The Backrooms' Viral Horror Short Explained". WPST. Archived from the original on January 31, 2022.
  18. ^ Dennison, Kara (February 7, 2022). "See Attack on Titan Through the Eyes of Backrooms Director Kane Pixels". Otaku USA. Archived from the original on February 7, 2022.
  19. ^ McAndrews, Mary Beth (January 14, 2022). "'The Backrooms' Is A Found Footage Nightmare Freaking Out The Internet". Dread Central. Archived from the original on January 31, 2022.
  20. ^ Anderson, Kyle (March 22, 2022). "TERRIFYING BACKROOMS SHORT FILM IS ALSO SUPER IMPRESSIVE". Nerdist. Archived from the original on December 31, 2022. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  21. ^ Beschizza, Rob (February 1, 2022). "Explore The Backrooms in this short found-footage horror flick". Boing Boing. Archived from the original on February 1, 2022.
  22. ^ a b c Burton, Carson (February 7, 2023). "YouTube Horror Series The Backrooms Is Getting Turned Into a Feature Film". IGN. Archived from the original on February 11, 2023. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  23. ^ Goslin, Austen (February 8, 2023). "Viral horror video The Backrooms will be a movie from A24 and its 17-year-old director". Polygon. Archived from the original on February 11, 2023. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  24. ^ Gutelle, Sam (February 9, 2023). "Teenage creator Kane Parsons will direct a Backrooms horror movie". Tubefilter. Archived from the original on February 11, 2023. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  25. ^ Tinoco, Armando (December 4, 2022). "YouTube Streamy Awards 2022 Winners List: Charli D'Amelio, MissDarcei, MrBeast & Cooking With Lynja Among Victors". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 6, 2022. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  26. ^ a b Loeffler, Jeffrey (July 6, 2022). "Enter the Backrooms: five games that explore the new creepy internet sensation". TechRadar. Archived from the original on December 12, 2022. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  27. ^ "The Backrooms Game for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on March 24, 2022.
  28. ^ Johnson, Astrid (August 16, 2019). "Reviews Roulette: The one with Tony Hawk on a unicycle". Rock Paper Shotgun (Video). At 24:57. Archived from the original on February 11, 2022.
  29. ^ Zamora, Gabriel (August 13, 2019). "The 15 Best Free Steam Games". PCMag. Archived from the original on February 6, 2022.
  30. ^ H. C., Luis (December 26, 2022). "Six of the Best Indie Horror Video Games You May Have Missed in 2022". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on February 12, 2023. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  31. ^ Wilson, Mike (June 30, 2022). "Escape While Staying Sane in Psychological Horror Game 'The Backrooms 1998′ [Trailer]". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on February 28, 2023. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  32. ^ Smith, Ed (September 27, 2022). "The Backrooms has a new, terrifying survival horror game, out now". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on December 1, 2022. Retrieved February 11, 2023.

Further reading

External links