Momo, viral queen and fictional grotesque bird-lady-child-predator, is becoming the Hollywood bombshell she was always meant to be. According to Deadline, there are not one, but two films in the pipeline based on the woman whose face terrified parents around the globe and spawned an extremely online cult fandom.
Momo is not actually a woman, nor a demon, nor the lynchpin of a predatory death game targeting children. She is merely a sculpture called "Mother Bird" created by special effects artist Keisuke Aiso. This year, photos of the sculpture (that had been circulating on Reddit for years) became falsely linked to child suicide and endangerment cases had journalists and parents, including Kim Kardashian, panicking about a nonexistent "Momo Challenge." People became convinced that predators were using Momo's avatar to conduct a sadistic Blue Whale Challenge (which is, unfortunately, potentially more credible) copycat scheme, manipulating kids via Whatsapp and YouTube to perform a series of self-harming tasks, culminating in suicide.
The game was quickly revealed as a hoax — with YouTube confirming there's no evidence of the game on its platform, and the media debunking the supposed cases. However, in the wake, the internet became infatuated with Momo's grotesque visage and she became a kind of counter-cultural icon, in the vein of Pennywise the Clown or the Babadook, spawning a glorious portfolio of memes, makeovers, and even a deepfake.
Fortunately, at least one of the films underway promises to be the horror masterpiece Momo's icon status demands. Orion Entertainment is producing a version of the Momo story that will reunite producers Taka Ichise and Vertigo Entertainment's Roy Lee: the duo who brought us The Ring and The Grudge. Lee also produced 2017's remake of Stephen King's it, which became the highest grossing horror movie of all time.
Lee and Ichise's version will draw on both the freaky story of Momo as a digital age online predator and the Japanese folkloric character that inspired the artwork, which sounds like a techno-ghost story straight out of a millennial's nightmare. According to The Sun's interview with Aiso, Momo is an iteration of the legend of Ubume, a ghost story about a woman who "dies in childbirth and emerges as a bird woman to haunt the area where she died."
The other Momo movie sounds more like fodder for the dumpster of Netflix's teen horror section. Called Getaway, it follows "a group of unsuspecting teenagers who, in their last summer before college, find themselves in a secluded cabin in the woods where unusual occurrences unfold. In ghost story fashion, one tells the story of the urban legend, MOMO, a strange spirit of a bird-like woman that taunts its victims with specific personal details and violent commands via text message and phone calls. What starts out as a harmless prank soon turns more sinister over the next 24 hours as the teens start disappearing without any motive or pattern."
Of course, I will be watching both, regardless. No release dates on the calendar yet, but here's a few Momo memes to get you in the mood.