When it comes to interactive movies, gamers who grew up in the 80s will be well acquainted with the genre. Making use of full-motion video combined with adventure games, the genre saw its popularity come and go with titles such as Night Trap and Tex Murphy. These titles had plenty of cheese but were a creative leap back in the day.
Fast forward to the present, Late Shift, an all-new cinematic experience is looking to capture some of that magic and it’s now primed for the big screen. Golden Village will be looking to see if such an experience will be able to help drive more crowds back into the cinema and warm the audience up post-pandemic. If you haven’t caught Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, then simply imagine yourself being in full control of the protagonist’s actions in the movie.
Late Shift is essentially an interactive movie that features about 180 choice points and seven different endings where the viewer’s choices will determine the conclusion of the film.
The film, however, came out in 2016 and was screened at several international film festivals such as The New York Film Festival, Radiance Film Festival and the Festiva du nouveau cinema.
If you did some research before catching the film, you might be surprised, confused or even both, to find that the film is also considered a full-motion video game as Late Shift is available on the majority of the gaming platforms such as Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Steam on Microsoft and even the iOS app store. The “game” received positive reviews for most of the platforms, especially on Steam and had gotten many awards despite some finding criticisms on its continuity errors.
To get started, you’ll need to download the app CntrlMovie and scan the QR code in the theatre before the movie starts. As the movie progresses, you’ll notice multiple answers appear on the cinema screen and your phone simultaneously for you to make those choices within three seconds.
The movie’s unique feature is sort of a double-edged sword because to interact with the movie, you’ll have to interact with your phone. While the seamless decision-making process was commendable since it never pauses the movie, there is a constant rush over making a decision because the timer goes out way too fast and the prompts appear with any warning. Your phones will have to be unlocked the entire time and this makes you extra conscious to react so you don’t miss any decision.
While you can enjoy the comfort and luxury of GV Gold Class, those who are catching the film in the normal theatres might want to take note that spotting phone glares at the corner of your eyes is likely inevitable.
The story itself revolves around Matt Thompson (Joe Sowerbutts), a college student working a late shift as a parking lot attendant who unfortunately finds himself entangled with a group of armed robbers planning to steal an antique from an auction.
Unlike any other crime heist, Late Shift is intense and offers a thrilling interactive adventure because you take the role of Matt and everything he does is mostly up to you. Your participation makes this movie twice as fun and despite certain choices within the film that seemed like it was made for a quick joke (though we will never truly know), some heavily imply that they would make a significant change in the storytelling.
Throughout the film, Matt (or you) will be interacting mostly with May-ling (Haruka Abe), whom you have the chance to romanticize. Thanks to our audience, they seem to prefer a non-romantic crime thriller and left her hanging when she tried to make a move. Clearly, the folks in the audience have never played Mass Effect or Dragon Age before.
While Sowerbutts and Abe provide a convincing tale of two unwilling partners, the other characters you meet in the show don’t really play a big role in the entire narrative and are easily forgettable.
As the movie progresses into the finale, you are given more intensive choices to make that might throw you off an outcome you were expecting. While it was gripping, you’re constantly juggling between a sense of ease or utter disappointment depending on the result of the majority’s vote.
The movie on the big screen might offer a better visual experience but the trade-off is less rewarding since replayability is out of the question. Having your own ending makes a significant role in your satisfaction level and for movie-goers, you only get to enjoy one. Whether you’re happy with it also depends on your theatre and what are the odds everyone agrees?
A completely erratic narrative makes a unique movie experience until you get the bitter feeling after leaving the cinema thinking it could’ve gone a better way if your audience had picked the choices you did. To try your chance at a different outcome, you are able to use your Late Shift ticket stub to redeem discounted tickets (S$8 for weekdays & S$10 for weekends) to give the film another shot.
Then, herein lies the question – what happens if the fresh set of the audience decides to make the same narrative choices as your previous group? This could mean experiencing déjà vu as you’re, once again, brought along for a ride as an unwilling participant.
While the movie will officially release as a regular (S$13 for weekdays & $15 for weekends) theatre-going experience at Golden Village, an exclusive Gold Class experience (S$98 for public & S$95 for members) features a three-course meal and complimentary Chivas highballs are available as well. The menu is curated by Chef Kenny Yeo from One Faber Group’s Arbora and Dusk restaurants.
The three-course meal starts off with the savoury Chilli Crab Potato Skin and the Coq au Vin leaving your taste buds asking for more. These two courses will be served before the movie with the last Dark Chocolate Ice Cream enjoyed while you’re in the theatre.
The Gold Class session definitely offers you the service you won’t find anywhere else. The unfamiliar seating set up that’s spaced out to make sure you get your own privacy with your friend or partner along with an adjustable seat and complimentary blanket elevates the entire cinematic experience.
However, whether Late Shift is the movie you want to invest the money and the Gold Class experience in, is in fact another matter. We’d like to think something like Mortal Kombat or Godzilla vs Kong would make more sense.
Late Shift will release from 22 April 2021 at selected Golden Village theatres and 20 – 21 April for Gold Class preview sessions.