It’s that most human of emotions. A lot of us can’t stand it. Others, of course, embrace it – after all, the horror industry is worth billions.
And for those who actually want to be scared – and indulge in this by watching horror films – the methodology has been rather limited. You know how it works: you go to a cinema or sit down on the couch, munch on popcorn in the dark, and prepare to get scared as spine-tingling scenes of terror play across a flat screen.
Welcome to the world of VR horror films.
Eye For An Eye: A Seance has been picked up by the Jaunt VR App and now features across all major VR platforms since debuting on October 26 – just in time for Halloween.
In the veins of classic horror storytellers like Lucio Fulci and John Carpenter, Eye For An Eye tells the story of a group of friends who attend a seance to try and find a missing friend. Unbeknownst to them, however, their psychic medium is in contact with the vengeful, eyeless soul of a child named Marcus, who was murdered and can only pass to the next realm by finding, and forcefully taking, an appropriate set of eyes.
Writer/director Elia Petridis says working with VR just made sense for a project like Eye For An Eye. “VR has so much potential to do good things. You might as well embrace it.”
Petridis – who is also the founder of VR company Fever Content – says he’s particularly proud of how the film can be experienced, even if describing the experience isn’t the easiest of tasks. “One of the unique features of VR is we don’t have a shorthand for the language,” he says. “We don’t have the same way to describe it as traditional mediums yet.”
Petridis – who wrote and directed The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez, the last film to star Hollywood legend Ernest Borgnine – says that what’s particularly unique about VR compared to a traditional horror film you’d watch on a screen is that it’s a much more immersive experience. He says sound can particularly make things all the more frightening. “Horror as a genre gives you a lot of freedom to guide the ear,” he says.
But there’s more to it than just that.
“It’s a way to defeat the Patrick Swayze Syndrome,” he says. “You don’t feel like you’re a ghost. When you’re a character, there are stakes.
“It’s about the horror of the medium – to literally try someone else’s eyes on. In VR, you’re literally trying on someone else’s eyes.”
The project took Petridis about six months to complete. Even in that time, he says, there have been huge advancements in VR technology. “Given the work we’re doing [now], I look on Eye For An Eye with an element of nostalgia.”
That nostalgia runs a little bit deeper than the tech, though. “There’s no CGI – it’s all actors,” says Petridis of his film. “It has a Sam Raimi, B-movie sunshine noir feel. It’s all about the film at the end of the day.”
And the horror. Can’t forget that bit.