If you're ever in New York City, beware. At any moment, you could find yourself facing a terrifying supernatural event.
Last fall, patrons at a coffee shop were frightened when a young woman used her telekinetic powers to lift a rude patron off the floor. And now, people are getting scared out of their wits by a demonic baby popping out of a stroller with horrific screams and projectile vomiting.
OK, so it isn't a real demon baby. It's a remote-controlled animatronic creation that surprised random New Yorkers while hidden cameras captured their reactions. And it wasn't just a prank; the stunt is actually a viral promotion for this weekend's found-footage horror movie, "Devil's Due".
The video is the creation of Thinkmodo, the NYC-based viral marketing company that's been grabbing attention online for three years. They "hacked" the giant video screens in Times Square to promote the Bradley Cooper thriller "Limitless."
Then they made it look like flying people were soaring over Manhattan for "Chronicle." And last October, they started an online sensation with their "Carrie"-inspired prank where an actress appeared to wreck a coffee shop using telekinesis (actually, it was all practical special effects). That video went on to be viewed over 52 million times on YouTube.
But for "Devil's Due" — the story of a young married couple who discover the baby she's carrying is actually the spawn of Satan — the Thinkmodo team decided to up their game. Co-founder Michael Krivicka told Yahoo! in an email interview that for the first time the filmmakers of the movie they were promoting took an active role planning their viral stunt.
The quartet known as Radio Silence (you can catch the four in the final shot of the opening montage) flew out to New York to meet with the Thinkmodo team and offer suggestions for maximising the scariness. Krivicka called their involvement "a bit surreal but very helpful," adding, "We had fun discussions about the movie, which sparked many ideas for us and our promo."
The next step was to actually building the little bundle of terror, and for that Thinkmodo enlisted the experts at Creature Effects Inc. They have created animatronic creatures for films like "300," "Star Trek" and "I Am Legend." After building the robotic baby and remote-controlled stroller, three operators flew to New York from Los Angeles to operate the rig.
Krivicka explained, "One piloted the stroller, while the other two were in charge of the baby's movements and facial expressions." Thinkmodo also employed three cameramen to record the interactions with telephoto lenses from hidden locations.
When it was finally time to unleash the "devil baby" on the public, Krivicka revealed that they started by parking the stroller in strategic locations in various New York neighbuorhoods. Krivicka said, "Our devil baby was covered and a hidden speaker inside the stroller would play looped audio of a crying baby. It was an interesting social experiment to see how many people would bother to check on an abandoned stroller."
When someone did get curious enough to get in close, they would pop the baby up remotely and film the screams. But they didn't stop there. Krivicka said, "Since the stroller was remote controlled as well, we decided to have some fun with it and have the stroller approach specific groups of people — some walking, some sitting around enjoying a hot coffee. Lots of fun reactions there."
The team recorded plenty of great jumps, shrieks, and shouts, but the unpredictable reactions were the ones they liked to see the best. Krivicka said, "One lady decided to cover up the baby with a blanket while another gentleman just stood there, processing the grotesque look of the baby."
The other surprise was there weren't any hurt feelings from the victims of the prank. Krivicka stated, "People were totally cool with being in the video after getting the living hell scared out of them. Each reaction ended with a laugh, and everyone loved the look of the baby."
In fact, the people who were left the most shaken by the prank may have been the guys who put it on to begin with. Krivicka admitted that he has a six-month-old son of his own who is about the same size as the animatronic decoy. Krivicka said, "Going back and forth between the grotesque devil baby and my super-cute son really messed up my reality and gave me nightmares." But he went on to say he's doing better now.
"Devil's Due" is expected in to be launched this Friday.