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This article was published on May 20, 2013

Haunting Melissa is an iOS-only horror yarn that hints at the future for TV and storytelling

Haunting Melissa is an iOS-only horror yarn that hints at the future for TV and storytelling
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

As the producer behind hits such as The Ring and Mulholland Drive, Neal Edelstein is now trying his hand at experimental new media, kicking off with Haunting Melissa.

Co-founded as a ‘next generation production’ company by Edelstein, Hooked Digital Media premiered Haunting Melissa last week, and is striving to “reinvent storytelling” for the digital age. In a nutshell, the story centers around a teenage girl called – unsurprisingly – Melissa, who believes her deceased mother has returned to haunt her.

We’re starting to see a slew of content air exclusively online – take Netflix’s Hemlock Grove for starters – but Haunting Melissa goes that extra step by making it available exclusively in-app via your iOS device.

Haunting Melissa

Haunting Melissa follows in the footsteps of the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, in that it tries to adhere to a real-life feel as close as possible – we’re talking shaky cameras here.

You’ll note there are 11 chapters, though you can’t skip ahead, not yet at least.


This isn’t just another 90-minute movie repackaged for the mobile generation – Hooked Digital Media’s platform enables the delivery of content at unpredictable intervals.

Designed to bring more mystery into the media mix, as a viewer progresses, the app serves up fresh twists and reveals new narrative elements through push notifications. At the time of writing, only the first chapter is available, for free, and it offers the subsequent chapter for free too, but only if you help share news of Haunting Melissa on Facebook.


If you don’t, you’ll be invited to pay $1.99 per chapter, or $6.99/$14.99 (HD) to buy a season pass which will give you all chapters when they’re made available.

Haunting Melissa was conceived, directed and produced by Edelstein, and it was written by author Andrew Klavan, the same man who wrote True Crime and Don’t Say A Word.

“Haunting Melissa is a ghost story created to be consumed in a dark corner with headphones on and iPhone or iPad in hand,” said Neal Edelstein. “You never know when the next piece will come or how long that piece will be…it’s a complete surprise.”

I guess a typical scenario could be this – you’re sitting at work, considering whether to go straight home or take a detour to the pub/shops. You then receive a notification that the next chapter is available to watch now and, well, that will influence what you do when you leave work. Alternatively, as this is mobile, you could sneak off to the stationery cupboard and watch it there.

Haunting Melissa is very much about ‘social’ too. Users can sign-in through Facebook, sharing theories with friends and so on, and there is YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram communities too.


“The amazing technology contained in the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch has allowed us to present stories in a dramatically different way,” continues Edelstein. “The technology supports story first and foremost. As viewers move further into Melissa’s world, they will understand why this new app technology will change distribution forever.”

It’s certainly an interesting concept, one that positions content that would once have been reserved for cinemas or TV, alongside your emails and tweets. If that makes it sound mundane, it isn’t supposed to – it’s just an interesting way of delivering content, one that could take movie and TV-content delivery in new directions – it’s delivered piece-by-piece, when you’re not expecting it.

That said, cinema has seen off a number of pretenders to its throne over the years, and there’s nothing to suggest here that this will change any time soon with app-only releases. But it certainly hints at where TV could be heading.

Haunting Melissa is available to download for free now, though subsequent chapters beyond the first one will cost you money (or a Facebook share).

Meanwhile, you can watch an official trailer below.

Haunting Melissa | iPad

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Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock

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