Now, Why is There a Horse in the Stairway?

I don’t know. But that’s intentional because of what the picture is: a cursed image. These pictures are a recent Internet trend that revolves around pictures that instill uneasiness in the viewer. Although there are many different arguments as to what specifications must be met in order to make a cursed image, the general consensus is that it has to make the viewer feel confused and unsettled. A more specific explanation that is posted on the top of the most popular cursed image Subreddit would be an image that meets the “3W1H model”—Who? What? Why? And How? 

The feeling of the image may evoke confusion, dread, eeriness, or other similar feelings. Often times the best cursed images evoke three or more, but it is not necessarily required. The images themselves do not carry a “curse”, and the word is instead used to convey the feeling that the image puts out. Another common theme these images follow is a lack of context, which helps to incites 3W1H. Context can and has ruined the cussedness of an image because a large part of the image’s appeal is the fear of the unknown, where the viewer can all but try to comprehend answers to the 3W1H. Images with vintage/polaroid tend to be the most popular due to the perceived spontaneity of the image that adds to the unknown, this is why older pictures tend to do the best on social media. The images themselves can have other qualities that add to the “cursed” feeling. Some of the commonalities include:

  • Camera flash
  • General darkness
  • Low quality/grainy photo (vintage look)
  • Grungy rooms
  • Tight spaces

Although the origin of cursed images is not completely known, the first account to become popular by posting strictly cursed images was a Tumblr account by the username of “Cursed Images”, who became active in October of 2015. It has been speculated that cursed images were inspired by the infamous horror-fiction stories called Creepypasta (such as Smiledog and Slenderman). Cursed images have gone somewhat viral, and the main subreddit (r/cursedimages) has over 430 thousand subscribers. They can also be found on many popular meme accounts as well as the iFunny feature section.  


Perhaps all of these photos have logical explanations but that would ruin the fun which comes from the mystery. These images are not enjoyed solely because of dread and other negative feelings. In fact, the absurdity of a cursed image can make it quite funny (such as the photo on the right) and many popular meme accounts post them.


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