I just spent the last 90 minutes touring the 3D-rendered, augmented-reality murder scenes of Tupac, Biggie, Nipsey Hussle, Nicole Brown-Simpson and John Lennon. They featured blood trails, shattered glass, dead bodies, and in the case of Lennon, a sobbing Yoko Ono on her knees next to her dead husband. Oh, and I was there, too, digitally-inserted..
Which is gross, of course. But that’s exactly how the CrimeDoor app makes you feel — gross.
CrimeDoor is obviously designed for fans of true crime. The app’s creators describe it as “a revolutionary news app for the True Crime space,” one that “delivers daily news updates, with an unmatched database of case file content from around the globe.” They also boast that “CrimeDoor provides geo-targeted case profiles on a map, alerting users of murders, missing persons and unsolved cases in their area.”
But they consider their big selling point to be the “revolutionary 3D augmented-reality experiences that allow users to investigate crime scenes.” Through the magic of 3D and AR, the app allows you to walk around and fully explore the locations, settings and details of famous murders. In fact, you can get as close as you care to get. For instance, I walked through The Dakota in Manhattan in the year 1980, and I stumbled upon the aftermath of Lennon’s assassination. I saw the discarded revolver, the dropped reel-to-reel tape and Lennon’s murdered body, complete with the aforementioned traumatized Ono.
When you select a crime scene — such as Nipsey Hussle’s murder outside of his store in L.A. — you get to fully explore the digitally-realized parking lot as you stand over his dead body. But don’t worry, the app suggests, the pixelated blood won’t stain your Jordans, despite the vivid recreation of the Hussle’s murder. You’re safe to gawk and gape at the spectacle of Black death.
With Biggie’s murder, the moment is rendered so lifelike that you can even position yourself inside the car of his killer and witness things from the murderer’s vantage point — as the bullets explode from the barrel of his gun. You’re literally there for the murder. There’s also Tupac’s shooting in Vegas. He didn’t die in it; he succumbed to his bullet wound six days later in the hospital, which you don’t get to tour. But still, CrimeDoor allows you to walk the Strip and push past Suge Knight to get a closer view of a bleeding Tupac.
From there, there’s the deathbed of Lincoln, the Black Dahlia murder, and more recently, the Menendez brothers — the rich kid twins who slaughtered both their parents.
All of this is morally repugnant to begin with, but it’s made worse by the fact that it’s a way to profit from death as tourism (locked premium content costs $4.99 per month). Perhaps more insulting is that the 3D-rendered digital blood makes the grim scenes feel even more lifeless and empty than they are in reality. In short, it’s an extraordinarily crass way to leech off of true crime’s booming popularity. Case in point: CrimeDoor allows you to digitally explore the woods where Hae Min Lee’s body was disposed of, which would later be chronicled in the massive hit podcast Serial.
Needless to say, murder shouldn’t be a profit engine for VCs looking to capitalize on the trendiness of true crime.
The only funny part here is how CrimeDoor also has a time-travel function, allowing you to take a tour of the death of that one guy whose murder was like the OG true crime — it spawned a whole new genre of storytelling, too. Believe it or not, on CrimeDoor you can even witness the crucifixion of Jesus.
For which there are only two words: Holy hell.