There are two types of people in this noisy, stressful world: those who find ASMR videos weird and wonderful, and those who just find them weird. Either way, ASMR – Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, if we’re trying to sound clever – can no longer be considered niche. If you search those four letters on YouTube, the results speak (and whisper, tenderly) for themselves. At the time of writing, a video called “Sleep-inducing Haircut” has been viewed 14 million times – and only seven of those are by me. Evidently, ASMRtists have struck a very pleasurable nerve. So why aren’t filmmakers, especially the ones obsessed with sound design, incorporating ASMR techniques into their movies?
The thing is, they are. Peter Strickland’s ASMR addiction fed directly into his upcoming movie, In Fabric. Although ostensibly a horror-comedy about a dress that murders its owners, In Fabric devotes its second half to a washing machine repairman whose monotone murmurs sends strangers into a trance. Moreover, the film itself, which is scored by Tim Gane from Stereolab and has an ASMR-heavy soundscape, can be listened to in the same way you might appreciate a simulated haircut video on YouTube.
Now, if you’ve got this far and still don’t understand what ASMR is, let’s put it this way: it’s the tingling sensation when someone whispers too closely into a microphone; it’s your nerve endings developing euphoric goosebumps due to certain surfaces brushing together. Still confused? The person who coined the term “ASMR” in 2010 did so because she hated that it was informally referred to online as a “brain-gasm”. So if you’re piqued by the idea of a brain-gasm, then keep on reading. You sicko.
Of course, ASMR has always existed, even if it only developed a name in 2010. After all, movies (the good ones, anyway) are designed to pleasure our senses, and there’s a wealth of them that elicit ASMR-esque sensations. Trigger warning: here are movies that also work as ASMR – check out in the gallery below.