With 4K TVs and 4DX theaters both making waves this year, it’s been a fabulous time for imbibers of entertainment, but this project doesn’t need a bazillion pixels or mile-high screens in order to be effective. This is virtual reality horror! The Oculus Rift, despite not being commercially available yet, is still continuing to broaden its own horizons, and now they’ve brought the 2013 indie horror film Banshee Chapter to the virtual reality headset for the most immersive scares that moviegoers have ever been a part of. At least, outside of a touchy-touchy haunted house.
Virtual reality experiences have always been a big part of sci-fi, though it’s almost always shown as an active tool rather than a casual one. And kicking back to get the shit scared out of you while watching a horror movie is about as passive as it gets. Director Blair Erickson made his feature debut with Banshee Chapter, but he’s well-known within the world of virtual reality and interactivity campaigns for different Hollywood studios. His company Jamwix worked with distribution company XLrator Media for Banshee Chapter: Oculus Rift Edition, which quite literally puts viewers right in the middle of the horror.
Banshee Chapter is partially based on the H.P. Lovecraft story “From Beyond,” which also inspired a feature of the same name. Katia Winter plays Anne Roland, a journalist who discovers a mysterious link connecting her friend’s recent disappearance, a government-sanctioned chemical, and a phantom radio station broadcasting random music and messages. It’s not the first flick I’d have thought would head into the VR world, but it’s far from the worst. Check out the promotional video below, which takes you into the process deeper than I’d be able to.
Insterstellar used the Oculus Rift for an exploration of the stars, and it’s definitely massive space-faring films like that where I’d think the VR headset would earn its biggest praises. Take me into the world of Sunshine or 2001: A Space Odyssey. Teach me how to be a Jedi actually in the swamps of Dagobah.
Of all the ways I expected the Oculus Rift to make life more extravagant, I somehow didn’t expect the film industry to become a part of it. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not the one in charge here. (How did horror beat porn though? That’s what I want to know.) If you have one of the Oculus Rift dev kits, you can actually download the movie for free here. But if you’re just looking to watch a decent horror movie in standard fashion, you can find the non-VR version of Banshee Chapter on Netflix.