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Horror tale Haunting Melissa targets app audiences

Categories: Featured, Movies, Social Media

If you're seeking the weather, the news, a map to the closest coffee shop or a pic of what your buddy had for lunch -- there are apps for that. An original, Hollywood-calibre ghost story from a producer of The Ring and Mulholland Drive? Now, there's an app for that, too.

An interesting digital storytelling project debuts Thursday: Haunting Melissa, a traditional ghost story with a modern twist -- namely a tale that unfolds through an iOS app.

The brainchild of American producer Neal Edelstein, Haunting Melissa isn't a webseries or a movie sliced up into viral videos, he says. Filmed in Calgary and featuring Canadian crew members, the project was conceived as an app-told tale from the ground up, incorporating the medium's unique requirements and environment: from unique sound and display specifications to push notification technology and built-in social media sharing capabilities.

"For me, it is an inspiration to tell stories in a different way -- linear stories, Hollywood-quality filmmaking," Edelstein enthused during a quick stop in Toronto last week.

Creative freedom

As someone who's experienced the Hollywood studio system and how it can limit creative vision, "distributing things direct to the end user is really exciting," said Edelstein, who was introduced to Alberta's "inspiring" landscape by his Calgary-born wife.

Haunting Melissa, which follows a young woman left alone in a farmhouse after her mother's recent death, is a character-driven, "traditional kind of creepy ghost story" in the vein of The Ring, Edelstein said.

The intimacy we have with our smartphones and tablets make the devices a perfect vehicle to deliver horror stories, he added. "The challenge of being able to scare that way is really exciting."

At this point, the spine-tingling indie project is available only for the iPhone and iPad.

Haunting Melissa will unfold unpredictably, with scares potentially coming at any time. For instance, after downloading the free app, the first chapter might be followed by a seven-minute scene a day later and perhaps 20 minutes more in the middle of the night -- all pushed straight to its audience.

With people constantly on their various tech devices and texting or posting online now a form of entertainment, "why not deliver [content] directly to them where they are?" Edelstein said.

"Hopefully people who enjoy good storytelling and ghost stories" will enjoy the project, he noted. "If you're a fan of the horror genre and you're a fan of technology, I think it's an interesting experience."

Haunting MelissaHaunting Melissa will unfold via story segments pushed straight to its app, available for iPhone and iPad. (Hooked Digital Media)

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