The 13th Floor

Real or Fake, This Snowboarder’s Close Encounter with a Bear is Still Terrifying

When you spend most of your waking hours (plus some less-lucid mental states) scrubbing the upper and lower sides of the web in search of bizarre, creepy, unexplained and often nightmare-inducing material, it’s understandable you have to sift through a lot of hoaxes and misinterpreted footage to get to the rare WTF gems that just might be the real deal.

Dating back to April 10, 2016, the viral clip below remains a lightning rod for debate on social media — because even if it’s conclusively proven to be fake, the people who created it still deserve major props for making it look damn convincing.

Allegedly shot just one day before posting by snowboarder Kelly Murphy, the one minute and 18-second clip below depicts Murphy skiing in Hakuba 47 Sports Park in Japan, while listening to a Rhianna track on her headphones and singing along.

As she notes after watching the video later, Murphy claims the music made it impossible for her to hear the grunts of a rapidly-approaching brown bear — which can be seen running at top speed several yards behind her, detected by the back-facing camera — but unseen by the snowboarder herself.

Image Credit: Kelly Murphy via YouTube

“Be careful, people,” Murphy warns in the description. “I nearly got eaten!”

Since the clip was uploaded, it’s managed to draw 10 million views, and has become the focus of amateur and professional skeptics alike, who have analyzed the video frame-by-frame to determine if the bear is actually present in the shot, or merely composited into the background via green-screen and a motion-tracking application.

Sites like THE VIRAL EXPERIMENT and IS IT REAL? are convinced that tiny errors in foreground matting, repetition of the same running-bear shot (they claim it’s footage from a stock site) and the use of a stock growl from an animal-sounds library are subtle but present clues that point to a well-crafted hoax… not to mention Murphy’s YouTube channel was apparently created solely to post videos from the same snowboarding session in Japan.

Snopes has also weighed in, citing many of the same details — as well as the fact that brown bears are not found in that part of Japan — to concluded the footage was doctored after the fact.

Murphy has not commented on the clip as of this writing, but we’d still like to hear your opinions… take a closer look!