Even if you’re not an active consumer of young adult-targeted entertainment, titles like “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games,” “Harry Potter,” and “The Fault in Our Stars” probably are on your radar thanks to the fact that all four started as teenager-beloved novels before becoming major Hollywood blockbusters.
Thanks to the success of those movies and others like it, Hollywood is riding the YA wave hard right now, so it’s not surprising that the latest piece of entertainment poised to permeate the masses is “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl,” a YouTube series that has teens freaking out, Edward Cullen-style. And they’re not the only ones—Harvey Weinstein has taken notice.
The web series—which is actually four years old—tells story of Sunshine Griffith, an adopted teenage girl who moves with her single mom Kat from Texas to rainy Washington state and starts to notice paranormal activity in her house. To prove to her mom that she’s not making it up, she starts videotaping her observations, and uploading them to her own YouTube channel. Before long, Sunshine finds she can—shocker—communicate with these beings.
It’s not hard to see why it has enormous potential. Much like 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project” before it (you might be too young—look it up), the series is designed to look amateur—”real” people documenting “real” spooky events—but professional actors comprise most of the cast, and each episode is only around two minutes, which leaves fans desperate for more.
“Sunshine” stars Paige McKenzie, a 21-year-old whose name was wisely kept secret until June 2013 in order to shield her from online stalkers, her real-life actress mother Mercedes Rose as Kat, and a handful of other actors playing Sunshine’s uncle, her best friend, and a mentor who may or may not be a ghostly figure.
By the summer of 2014, the series had accumulated a total of 80 million hits between its various episodes, nearly 160,000 subscribers to its YouTube channel, and was racking up an average of 7 million hits per month, according to IMDB.
Obviously, we’ll be hearing more about “Sunshine Girl,” but also about McKenzie, who not only co-authored the book and co-created the series as a teenager, but has landed a role in upcoming horror movie “THr33,” and—thanks to the success of “Sunshine”—produces other series on her YouTube channel. Did we mention she’s only 21?