Virtual Reality Horror

By James Duran

Movies were always an escape for me, growing up. A shortcut to an elevated mood and state of mind before alcohol and party favors became easily accessible. I mean, who didn’t feel like a total badass after watching the original Matrix? Whether it was joining Neo on his path to acceptance that everything he came to know about reality and human existence was a farce.. Accepting that he is, in fact, “the one” who could change things for the better. I still remember how my brother and I attempted to pull off some of the flashy kung fu stunts on each other after seeing them on-screen. Or the goosebumps I still get when watching the bride’s operatic, moonlit showdown with O-ren Ishii in Kill Bill. Sprinkles of snow sink gently to their feet as O-Ren carefully removes her sandals and Santa Esmeralda’s rendition of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood builds into a crescendo of Spanish guitar: a slow ballet which culminates into kissing swords and drops of blood on the snow. Sergio Leone and Kurosawa would have approved.

My taste is definitely in the fantastic: movies with style, glamour, and glitz. But I suppose I can also appreciate the occasional tear-jerker. Films give us access to a broad range of emotions and experiences whether we’re looking to escape our lives or reflect. The one thing that’s never made sense to me, however, is horror. “Maybe it’s some sort of macho thing,” I tried to rationalize to myself. You know, like how some people show off by downing a 750 ml bottle of jack or dousing their food in ghost pepper extract. Is that even fun? But it turns out, some people actually do enjoy being scared. And I guess perhaps some people fancy the sport of chugging down bottles of cheap whiskey.

Why do some people enjoy being scared? Isn’t the point of our advancements in science and technology to fuel a society that aspires to be free from the grips of fear? We should all be thankful for every day we don’t have to look over our shoulders for sabertooth tigers, yet, some of us seek out the very triggers to our primitive “fight or flight” response. John P. Hess of Filmmaker IQ has some pretty interesting thoughts as to why that is in his article: The Psychology of Scary Movies

It’s a no-brainer that VR has the potential to be the most immersive horror experience, with its 360 panoramic views and sound. Which is why, for so-called horror aficionados, they’ll be pleased to learn that developer VRWERX is working on a Paranormal Activity VR game for both the vive and rift, due out this summer. I mean, just see for yourself how these IGN employees flip their shit while playing. (Spoiler alert: one of them ends up on the floor crying, cowering in fear)

There are already 10 or so VR games out now in various stages of development including The Brookhaven which left this poor young woman trembling and gasping for breath. Admittedly, I laughed. At the same time, however, I don’t blame her for responding the way she did. I can’t imagine myself faring much better. It sounded like someone got murdered and her partner, Karl, says he was prepared to show the video to the authorities as evidence of where the screams came from and perhaps give them a chance to try it out for themselves after.