October 28

Eye For An Eye: A Séance in Virtual Reality, Explores The Teen Horror Genre In VR


The pivotal juncture for any new entertainment medium is whether it can evolve into more than just an enthralling novelty for creative pioneers and actually capture the attention of the masses.  Will VR rival video game consoles, flatscreens and laptops on consumer credit card receipts in the coming years? It’s a question that has yet to be answered, but the experience Eye For An Eye: A Séance in Virtual Reality, which explores the idea of a live action teen horror story in VR, indicates it’s a distinct possibility.

Eye For An Eye VR
Scene from Eye For An Eye: A Séance in Virtual Reality

Eye For An Eye: A Séance in Virtual Reality  is the first foray into VR for film director Elia Petridis. The narrative details a group of teenagers in search of a missing friend and includes a séance, a ghost and some delightfully macabre reveals, all of it depicted with an unabashed drive-in movie sensibility. And while ghosts and gore might not appeal to the high art crowd, there’s every indication that the kids who pack movie theaters and stay up at night playing video games will love this sort of thing.

As Petridis explains, “One of the best experiences I’ve had with Eye For an Eye was when  we showed it in a class of high school kids. They had no preconceived idea of what they were about to experience.What’s exciting is we get to bring VR to popular culture instead of just the balcony. And that’s really where it’s at.  To break out of the ivory tower of VR and get it to people on the street and say does this work for you?”

Eye for An Eye VR
A scene from Eye For An Eye: A Séance in Virtual Reality

The decision to explore the horror genre was as much based on technical considerations as an appreciation for the genre.  The director says he wanted to make a cinematic experience with a live actors and a traditional act structure instead of a more experiential animated piece. Horror was the best arena in which to maximize and explore VR’s inherent capabilities.

“Horror has traditionally relied a lot on sound design,” Petridis explains. “And in contemporary VR it’s the sound design that guides viewers. We used directional audio to focus the audience and also manipulate the environment. The ghost feels like it is everywhere precisely because you’re following your ears. Directional audio is particularly effective in horror and science fiction where the intent is to alter the reality.”

Eye For An Eye VR
Behind the scenes on Eye For An Eye: A Séance in Virtual Reality

Like many film directors exploring VR, Petridis both acknowledges and embraces the unexplored territory of the medium. “It’s been an incredible learning curve,” he says. “And I feel like we’re just getting started,. it’s great be forging a path for people and helping figure out what works and what doesn’t. Everyone only has one first time for VR. You show them popcorn popping in VR their first time and they will experience a sense of amazement. But that is only the first time. It has a shelf life. So the real challenge becomes, can you keep producing content that replicates that experience and keeps audiences coming back.”

Eye For An Eye: A Séance in Virtual Reality is the flagship element in a transmedia universe that also includes a short film entitled “Eye for an Eye: Henriett” and the song “If I Had A Ribbon Bow,” composed by Ruy Folguera and featuring guest vocals from  renowned indie singer Jesca Hoop which will be featured as KCRW’s “Song of The Day” on Halloween.