FilmScene presents night of spectacle, horror, and ASMR

Ahead of FilmScene’s Thursday sneak preview of the new horror film, “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” former Iowa City resident “Slight Sounds ASMR” performed live for the movie theater.


Isabella Cervantes

Slight Sounds ASMR poses for a portrait at FilmScene in Iowa City on Thursday, April 21, 2022. Slight Sounds’ YouTube channel has accumulated over 310k subscribers and currently features 330 videos. (Isabella Cervantes/The Daily Iowan)

Josie Fischels, Managing Editor

Slight Sounds ASMR welcomes the peculiar. 

After all, the 28-year-old former Iowa City resident has turned filming and editing YouTube videos in which she whispers to, brushes, and lightly taps her microphone into a full-time career. 

Slight Sounds ASMR creates ASMR content, a name that stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response.” The label identifies the pleasant, tingling sensation some people feel on their scalp and neck when listening to certain, usually soft, sounds. 

The ASMRtist, whose YouTube subscribership has grown to over 310,000, returned to Iowa City Thursday night ahead of FilmScene’s sneak preview of We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. The horror/drama film premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and features one of Slight Sounds’ ASMR video in one of its scenes.  

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We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, released in the U.S. on April 15, follows teenager Casey, who, alone and on the internet in her bedroom in the attic, decides to take the “World’s Fair Challenge,” an online role-playing horror game. After initiating herself, she documents via public video diary posts the changes that she may (or may not) be actually experiencing — and slips into a nearly indecipherable state between reality and dark fantasy. 

Before the film, Slight Sounds gave a special in-theater live ASMR performance — a new experience for all involved, including Slight, who typically likes to record her videos to a camera, alone at 2 a.m. 

Slight sat before the audience between two microphones pointed toward her mouth, an array of soundmaking tools sat scattered on the table before her. She would use each to create soothing sounds, including wooden bowls, exfoliating brushes, gloves, fans, and even an old, tattered copy of Dune

“The good thing about ASMR is you can really use anything,” she whispered to the audience. 

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Like her videos, the performance was largely improvised. Slight would pick up an object to use up close to the microphone for a few minutes before drifting her hand back to the table to select something new. She’d move to one microphone, and the sound of her exfoliating gloves moving over its surface would emit gently from the left side of the room, then she’d move to the right microphone, simulating a popular ASMR “ear-to-ear” technique used on camera. 

ASMR can be understandably weird to those unfamiliar with it, Slight said, so when a member of the team from World’s Fair had reached out to her on Instagram asking to feature one of her videos in the film, her first question was, “Are you going to make fun of it?”

The film, however, filled with nods to internet subcultures, uses her video as it is intended — to soothe the protagonist and lull her to sleep, momentarily displacing the film’s otherwise continuous tension. 

FilmScene Executive Director Andrew Sherburne said the movie theater has awaited the official U.S. release of the film since Sundance and the opportunity to have Slight Sounds ASMR be a part of it.  

She’s a creative, outgoing person, and it’s been fun to watch her really take ownership of this content creation to really rise up in prominence in this world that she’s part of,” Sherburne said. “It’s cool that things have kind of come full circle and she can come back and be with us.”