Eli Roth on Snapchat Mystery: A Lot of People Have Guessed the Murderer

Eli Roth
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Producing a murder mystery for Snapchat last weekend reminded Eli Roth of his early days as an aspiring filmmaker.

“I felt like I was in seventh grade and I was shooting something in my parents’ basement,” the “Hostel” director told Variety.

The project emerged from Roth’s digital network CryptTV, and aired live Sunday. The new media spin on “Clue” found social media influencers like Logan Paul, Nick Bateman, Simone Shepherd and others trying to survive a party at a creepy mansion. It has already drawn more than 750,000 total opens on Snapchat with more people continuing to watch as the day progresses. The success has prompted Roth to promise future projects on the video messaging service. Other social media stars have reached out to the director, asking to be involved in similar events.

“We can’t repeat the murder mystery genre, but we want to do something else that’s dark and edgy in the space,” said Roth.

The actors and Roth donated their time to cook up the project, improvising much of their dialogue and offering their own creative input. The results weren’t always polished, but Roth argues that looseness was the point.

“Part of the fun is the rawness of it,” said Roth. “Everybody came to have a good time. There’s always so much emphasis on how much you got paid and how much money did you make that it was refreshing. We do this because we love telling stories.”

Dark and edgy is what CryptTV specializes in. Short form video is dominated by comic performers, but Roth’s company offers up things like “Drug Deals,” a series of sketches about narco pacts gone wrong, and “One Minute Horror,” a forum for scary shorts that are less than 60 seconds long.

In the case of its latest effort, the murderer will be revealed at 7 p.m. PST on Monday, at which point the fruits of Roth and his team’s labor will begin to evaporate. Unlike Facebook, Twitter or other forms of digital communication, Snapchat has an expiration date. The messages do not exist in perpetuity. Roth doesn’t mind that everything he labored over will soon vanish.

“Everything is so permanent now,” he said. “Why is Coachella cool? You can watch it on television, but it’s not the same. You want to be there to have that experience….You do have this 24 hour window to see the film, and if you miss it, too bad. This experience is happening and by tomorrow it’s gone.”

Roth particularly enjoyed the interactivity he witnessed, as viewers followed the broadcast and shared their hunches about who was killing off the stars of Facebook, Vine, and Twitter. He was impressed by the sluething.

“A lot of people have guessed correctly,” he said.

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