Product Review: Alter.
Alter is a new horror streaming platform, featuring short films and series from new and award winning creators.
Much like its sister station, Dust, Alter is a short-film focused curator taking advantage of YouTube’s hosting capabilities. The service is new but growing quickly, with a keen eye towards picking up critically-awarded shorts as well as up and coming new talent. While the focus is on horror, within that genre Alter manages to have an impressive variety. A small library of exclusives makes me hopeful that Alter will not just collect but expand the reach of its genre.
I’ll let the creators introduce the product in their own words –
ALTER is a new horror brand for novel and grounded stories exploring the human condition through warped perspectives. Giving voice to emerging, diverse and established filmmakers, ALTER’s owned and operated channel is distributed across YouTube and Facebook where two short films or series are released each week. In addition to curating and distributing award-winning content, ALTER develops unique stories with some of the most innovative minds in the genre through its ALTER Studio projects – which are not bound to a particular platform or format.
You can add alter to your YouTube rotation or check out the films on their website – www.watchalter.com. The site basically embeds the YouTube hosted videos, but does provide a decent synopsis and links to creators’ promotional pages or other resources.
Zip, Zilch, Nada.
There’s not much fancy going on here. The site embeds the video from YouTube, so your visual quality is standard. Most videos run decently in 1080p HD, and I didn’t notice any issues with streaming quality. On the site itself, there isn’t any indication of a rating system. On YouTube, anything that might get you an R rating is annotated as “Uncensored.”
I feel like you get more utility out of the YouTube channel than the actual site. There is an over-crowded News page and the aforementioned links on the site, plus it has an eye-friendly black background instead of YouTube’s shocking white backsplash. Besides that, YouTube is just much better at curating and organizing the content. It’s readily apparent which films are series and which are stand alone shorts, and there’s even some attempts to create playlists based on themes or aesthetics.
Alter really shines on selection. For a recently launched platform (seems to have started uploading around May 2018), the service has quite a lot on offer. There’s around 70 shorts so far, with nearly that many Q&A features on the News page. There are half a dozen original/exclusive offerings, and at least one ongoing series, The Outer Darkness. The bulk of the library is, understandably, the short films, but there’s enough alternative content to warrant a peek.
The films seem to run the gamut in terms of traditional MPAA rating schemes. The Dollmaker, which we reviewed, would probably get a PG, while other offerings are certainly on the harder side of an R rating. Thematically, you get pretty much every variety of horror. There’s monsters and ghoulies, psychopaths and serial killers, psychological thrillers, and even some science fiction. The films range from super shorts at around 3 minutes to standard shorts of 10-15 minutes. There are very few that stray over the 15 minute mark.
Alter shows a ton of potential, and seems well positioned to become a player in the growing short film streaming landscape. It has a solid infrastructure, though I think that Dust managed a bit more variety when it came to its industry insider content. The selection of films, which is added to every Tuesday and Thursday, certainly does not disappoint. If the News features and the original content continues to grow, I could see Alter becoming a destination for fans, like AMC’s Shudder.