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When we last checked in on Crypt TV, the digital destination backed by horror masters like Eli Roth and Jason Blum had scored a hit with a film it live streamed on Facebook. As the calendar turns over, Crypt TV is celebrating another Facebook milestone — and this one looks like it will inform a big chunk of the company’s strategy going forward. “The Birch,” a short film about a sentient tree who protects a kid from bullies, recently passed the 10 million view mark on Crypt TV’s Facebook page, and that success will lead to more character-driven work in 2017.

“The Birch,” co-directed by Benjamin Franklin (no, not that one) and Anthony Melton, runs for just over four minutes. Across that span, we meet the titular birch, learn about her history, and watch as she exacts bloody vengeance upon a bully.

Part of Crypt TV’s strategy for “The Birch” is an appeal to the millennial, mobile-first viewers the platform is courting. As Crypt TV CEO Jack Davis told Tubefilter, the central theme of bullying is something many young viewers can relate to, and the film is designed to produce thrills no matter how it is viewed. “Our fans love original characters and the final shot of The Birch’s roar fills up the mobile phone screen in a very powerful way,” he said.

Where “The Birch” really informs Crypt TV’s forthcoming plans, however, is through its character design. Davis noted that several tributes to “The Birch” have cropped up, with one fan dressing up a tree to look like the short’s titular character. By introducing a compelling “back story,” “The Birch” created enticing lore and invited viewers to begin filling in the gaps. That progression mirrors the development of the “Slender Man” fad, which has inspired innumerable memes and tributes based off a single character.

By focusing on its original characters, then, Crypt TV can generate maximum excitement among its fans. With that in mind, the platform plans to expand “The Birch” in 2017. “We think Crypt fans will love to learn more about The Birch and how she keeps order and enacts justice,” Davis told Tubefilter. “The success of The Birch and other Crypt characters like Giggles The Clown have helped shape our 2017 strategy of focusing more and more on character creation. Horror fans love characters and over this coming year we are going to really lay the foundation of our own horror character universe.”

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