In the five years since Jack Davis co-founded his digital network, Crypt TV has become a powerhouse in the horror business, putting out everything from the original captivating characters like The Look-See, the Birch and Mordeo to the entrancing monster-centric short film series Sunny Family Cult and Crypt Fables.
Davis has been deeply and passionately working on creating the online version of what he calls “Marvel for monsters.” In a very short span of time, he turned low-cost, short horror stories into such a reliable hit formula that Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions (Insidious, Split, Get Out, The Purge and Into the Dark) and NBCUniversal decided to fund Crypt TV's content.
The horror aficionado is now bringing its brand of scary to India after inking a deal with Vikram Malhotra’s Abundantia Entertainment that would enable him to launch Crypt TV in the country, as well as develop series based on Crypt IP and new projects.
"About a year ago, we had hundreds and thousands of Indian fans watching our content. Some of our best videos were doing unbelievably well here. I think scare speaks no language and I feel our characters have universal emotional stories. That's what interested me about being global. Also, I feel India seems to be the most important media market, starting this decade. From the current streaming trends to the history of entertainment culture and storytelling, India is on its way to become the most important media market in the world," said Davis.
But what topped it off was that Davis found a great business partner in Malhotra, whose Abundantia Entertainment has produced hit films such as Airlift, Baby and Toilet Ek Prem Katha.
"What excited me about Vikram and Abundantia is their commitment of storytelling and understanding that this genre is just another means to connect people about family, coming of age, loss and love. Because even that is scary. So, I think when I look at Vikram's experience and his excitement about the partnership that will always mean to me more than just his specific experience within the genre," Davis said.
He, however, added, "I don't look at what we're doing as just taking our stuff and exporting it. We know there's potential because we see the fans are already watching. Crypt has had a huge success in the US. We feel like we're creating characters that people really like and resonate with, but it's not as simple as we take it here and we pop it. We must learn. Because learning the local sensibilities and what excites the local filmmakers has to come first. If you don't take time to understand the sensibilities of local market, you won't succeed."
For Davis, horror does incredible things. That's probably why he doesn't look at his content just as horror. "I look at it as storytelling," he said. Davis believes that scary is just a means to talk about human issues and emotion.
"The way Crypt looks at its monsters is all about emotion. The monsters just represent the characters' internal struggles. So if the characters complete their character arc and let go of their grief, the monster comes in."
Davis says he wants to redefine the way digital content being produced in India by growing Crypt's monster universe onto new networks and formats.
"We're known for making shorts, but in the US, we've started to making TV shows on YouTube, Facebook, Netflix. It's like Marvel-- how it started as comic books and became everything. That's how we see Crypt. We started as shorts because young people like watching that and then it's expanding. So, I'd like to do that with Abundantia in India."
Some of the most popular horror films in recent years are Get Out, A Quiet Place and Us that have been seen as the best and the most important movies ever made in this genre.
When asked if he has plans to bring such high-concept horror to India, Davis said, "Get Out is a story about feeling othered and race in America, and scare is just a way to drive that story part. A Quiet Place is a story about protecting your family and the monster just drives that home. And like I mentioned, our characters (monsters) at Crypt represent emotion and that's exactly why I'm partnering with Vikram because he has some experience in this genre (evoking emotions). So yes, those are the stories we want to create."
"My only goal here is to have one day people talk about the stories me and Vikram worked on in the same way people talk about the films you mentioned. Because even though we love the scare, the monster or the suspense, what really draws us is the character," he added.
Over the years, Hollywood horror films like Annabelle: Creation, The Conjuring 2 and It have done decent business at the Indian box office, but unfortunately, the homegrown productions are rarely able to generate higher profits.
Davis said, "That's why I'm here and I think that's what Crypt brings to the partnership. We bring a global sensibility because we're born out of the internet which is already global. Look at the TV show Dark on Netflix, it has penetrated the world even though its local language is German. I think one of the goals also is to create a show (in India) that has that same effect like Dark. And, I want to create it with local filmmakers and local crew, but the story and the emotions are so global that it reaches everywhere."