Their more modern manifestation is the interactive movie, and recent years have brought us several high-quality interactive movies available for free right on the web.
Interactive Internet movies, although perhaps a bit gimmicky, are in some ways pushing the envelope with what can be done with a story once you introduce viewer participation. Some have game elements, and some are multimedia experiences that aren’t restricted to just video. All of them give you some control over the experience.
The Outbreak is the creation of a company called SilkTricky. It’s a pretty straightforward zombie movie except for the fact that you are, of course, in charge of the protagonist’s survival. If you’re the sort of person who yells “look behind you!” or “run faster, you idiot!” during horror movies, this is probably exactly what you need.
It’s pretty simple: you watch a scene and then choose between a couple of options, like whether to go in the basement or the backyard, and whether to attempt to save others or leave them behind.
It’s a lot like a Choose Your Own Adventure book in that there are right choices and wrong choices, and if you make a series of wrong choices you’ll eventually be led to your death. Unlike a Choose Your Own Adventure book, though, you don’t have to use a ton of bookmarks or stick your fingers in a bunch of different pages in order to backtrack and make different choices. The Outbreak includes an easy-to-navigate chapter selection that lets you go back and try out any of the choices that you didn’t make the first time.
The Outbreak isn’t very long or complex, but it’s a pretty neat interactive zombie movie.
Bank Run is another interactive Internet movie, also made by SilkTricky. The story this time around is that our protagonist becomes unwittingly involved in a conspiracy and the bank that he works for is out to get him.
Like with The Outbreak, at the ends of scenes you have to choose between two options about how to proceed. The choices are a bit more limited this time around, though, because one is always right and the other will always get you killed. After getting killed, you can rewind to choose the other option. This means that there’s really only one path through the movie.
But what Bank Run has that The Outbreak doesn’t is some more game-like elements. From time to time, you have to press a key on your keyboard to dodge and survive.
Part 2 of Bank Run is available on the iPhone from the App Store for $2. It continues the story and becomes a full-fledged shooting game in some scenes where you’re in complete control of the protagonist’s fate as you fight your way past enemies.
This is one of the most unique interactive movies out there. Its story is difficult to explain because it stretches across so many characters and subplots, but that ends up making it a lot more unique than a simple zombie outbreak or a bank conspiracy. It includes an affair, an art heist, teddy bears stuffed with money, and even a funeral for a murdered mime (killed, fittingly enough, for “not keeping his mouth shut”).
Although you’re not allowed to make any choices that influence the direction of the plot, you do have control over the order that you view the narrative in and, for certain key scenes, you also have control over your camera perspective. The scenes with multiple camera perspectives are truly the highlights of the experience.
In these scenes, you can rotate a cube to view the ongoing action from four different angles, each revealing the things that different characters are (in most cases secretly) up to. It’s up to you to piece together these different activities to figure out whether the affair and the art heist are really just an affair and an art heist… or a decoy for something bigger that’s going on.
A lot of the scenes that don’t have multiple camera views are still filmed in unique ways that manipulate your perspective. In one scene, for example, a mime appears to be miming being stuck in a box. When the camera zooms out, however, it is revealed that he is actually in a truck sinking to the bottom of a lake, and his apparent miming is expressing a very real desire to escape.
HBO Imagine’s originality with the way it tells its story isn’t only restricted to presenting many of its filmed scenes with unique perspectives. In fact, HBO Imagine branches out beyond film entirely: there are also audio clips, newspaper clips, and other pieces of text. You choose the order in which you watch/listen to/read all of these different elements of the story and attempt to piece it together. HBO Imagine is a true interactive multimedia experience.
What do you think of interactive Internet movies? Are they just gimmicks, or are they the biggest innovation for narratives since the invention of the novel? Do you know of any other awesome interactive movies?
Image Credit: jaylopez