Recapping recent developments in the SUPER 8 viral campaign, writer/director J.J. Abrams‘ mysterious thriller offers tantalizing if cryptic clues advancing the ARG universe of this late-1970s story.
As widely reported a week ago, the vintage computer workstation of a D. Morris on remote view at scariestthingieversaw.com was counting down to an unspecified event, presumably unlocking files to open a new level of access. ARG-playing users answered system prompts to run programs which granted “STALOG ACCESS” and loaded external data files (more of which became available as days passed — and any chance this is humorous wordplay referring to Starlog magazine?). With the entire list of data files accessed, users accessed a new “AF-B4” directory — presumably some Air Force cache of stored data on the mysterious case at the heart of SUPER 8.The ARG mavens at Unfiction and MovieViral figured out the key command to unlock the next level of the game: type .PRINT RSCOM8 to print out two image files of a vintage 1970s newspaper.
The easiest clue to decipher was the image ad for Rocket Poppeteers, a fictional frozen juice popsicle sold with a spaceman theme to kids — a quick web search revealed the new Rocket Poppeteers website which has yet to go live (and while retro in design, rather breaks the late-1970s technology of the ARG game after Morris’ accurately primitive computer interface… but how else can we play the viral game in 2010 without typing command codes all day?!).
The sleuthing was far from over though, as careful eyes noticed that the two newspaper images contained several hand markings amid the graphics and text (an article quoting President John F. Kennedy’s July 1963 national address on the Nuclear Ban Treaty), along with two small Xs. Flip the Rocket Poppeteers page upside down and place it under the Kennedy speech page, and when held up to a bright light with the Xs aligned and the ad markings overlap with key words in the text. [This method of encrypting printed text is a variation on Grille cryptography with a cheap, handmade code pattern calling out the encrypted message instead of a cut-out template — intelligence coding 101 and a clever puzzle for players to solve!]
Below is a digital version of this overlay encryption, using image transparency layers and color highlighting to reveal the coded message: NO CERTAINTY IF A LIVE MAY BE AFTER US WE GO UNDERGROUND.
It certainly sounds like a dire message intended to be covertly released about the mysterious event at the core of SUPER 8‘s story, one that could easily live up to the “scariest thing I ever saw” domain name used by the film’s viral campaign. But what’s got these covert agents so scared: escape of some government cover-up secret or perhaps clues to some alien invasion of our planet? Whatever it is, the heroic commercial art behind Rocket Poppeteers and its “Taste the Outer Space” slogan provide an ironic (possibly comic) counterpoint to the dark secrets of the coded message — literally the flipside of this mysterious danger we’ve yet to learn. I wonder if Poppeteers are made by Slusho?
FilmEdge continues hunting down viral clues to bring you more news and updates on J.J. Abrams’ SUPER 8, escaping to theaters in next summer.