On October 12, Swedish tech blog GadgetZZ published a post about a mysterious video the author of the article received in the mail. The DVD of the video was addressed to blogger Johny K. by name. He wrote that he was making it public to "reach out" to readers "to try and help decode this."
Readers responded like crazy, because once you watch this incredibly creepy video, it's hard to avoid the impulse to dig into it. It is apparently a layered and deeply complicated puzzle.
Given the carefully constructed nature of the video, it's hard to believe it is anything but a conscious effort to promote something — a movie, show, or video game. It was, after all, sent to a tech blogger. But it also could be an elaborate warning, as it appears to contain specific threats against the U.S. and the White House. Bloggers at the Daily Dot and Redditors have been busily peeling it apart, and here are a few things they've found.
1. The video, sent from Poland,was made in an abandoned asylum there. Redditor dlbdlb determined the location for the video shoot was "Zofiówka, a defunct psychiatric hospital in Otwock, Poland," and posted a link to a photo clearly showing the same setting, in color. Zofiówka has a dark history. It was devoted to caring for Jewish psychiatric patients and during the Nazi occupation of Poland it was the scene of some horrific tragedies. If we really want to get into the deep conspiracy weeds with this crazy video, it's worth noting the video is sometimes referred to by a code that GadgetZZ blogger Johny K. noted on the DVD's menu, "11B-X-1371." In 1371 the Black Death—Plague—was rampant throughout Europe. Jews were sometimes blamed for the disease, and Poland was mostly spared. An additional hint that the video is referring to some kind of plague: the person in the video is wearing a plague doctor's costume.
2. The video contains the map coordinates for the White House and an encoded threat. A frame that flashes by almost too quickly to catch holds the White House's longitude and latitude: 38.897709, -77.036543. Redditors also isolated what looked like random characters to come up with two potentially chilling statements: "Strike an arrow through the heart of the eagle" and the nonsense phrase "REDLIPSLIFETENTH," which appears to be an anagram for "KILLTHEPRESIDENT." It could also be an anagram for "DEFENSE THRILL TIP" but that wouldn't seem consistent.
3. The video was first posted online in May, 2015. The Daily Dot reported that a Youtube user with the handle AEBTX was the first known uploader. They contacted AEBTX, who claimed "that a girl he knows 'found it in a park outside Spain' on a disc, and then sent him the file online." When asked if he sent the video to GadgetZZ, AEBTX denied it and implied the tech blog wasn't being truthful about how they received it, reportedly saying "Anyone can fake a DVD."
4. The plague imagery may be explained by one of the codes. It flashes by too fast to see if you're watching the video, but a Redditor isolated one frame and others decoded the message in it, which allegedly reads, "Soon comes the fall. Another great empire. The fall. The eagle = on the horizon. Join us. The eagle = infected will spread his disease. We are the antivirus will protect the world body."
5. If it is a promo for something, no one can figure out what. The Daily Dot and the avid Redditors parsing the video have come up with some pretty plausible reasons to believe it really was just created to go viral and eventually tie in to some kind of production—like, for instance, a film based on a Dan Brown novel. "Several Reddit users have settled on it being a complex promo stunt for the new big screen version of Dan Brown's novel Inferno," writes Daily Dot's Wehner, "In the book, a death-obsessed genius sends a video while wearing a similar outfit to the man in the clip and preaches the benefits of creating a new plague to reduce the human population. The movie is slated to arrive next year." If that's true, the timing is about right.
The video was so carefully tweaked that the creators even embedded graphic images—including the crime scene photo of a victim of the Boston Strangler—that only show up when viewed with a spectrograph. That's a crazily intricate approach to making a mere two minutes of weirdness.
We're convinced the viral promo angle is close to the truth, as it seems like someone actually planning some kind of terrorist attack might have better things to do than build such a complex piece of media. Whatever it is, we can only advise not watching it at night, and definitely don't mess with it if you suddenly develop an unexpected case of the sniffles, or a hacking cough.