interactive haunted house movie

A group of talented horror creators are teaming up for a project that will either be ground-breaking or an absolute mess – I can’t decide which. Alexandre Aja, director of this summer’s fun killer gator fright flick Crawl, is teaming with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin to create an interactive haunted house movie. The choose-your-own-adventure-style film will be penned by Haunting of Hill House writer Jeff Howard, along with Nick Simon, and Aja, from an idea by Hill House director Mike Flanagan.

Collider broke the news about the interactive haunted house movie. Per their report:

To develop the project, Amblin Partners is working with Kino Industries’ CtrlMovie technology, which empowers filmmakers to create branched narrative, interactive feature films that allow audiences to influence the storyline. Using an app on their cell phones, audience members will be able to vote in the theater to decide what characters will do at pivotal points in the narrative, meaning that Aja’s film will have a different plot, ending and even running time depending on the audience’s choices.

There are no plot details at the moment. All we know is that a haunted house is involved in some capacity. I really don’t know how to feel about all of this. I like Aja’s work, I flat-out love the projects Flanagan has created, and the Amblin brand is strong. But how is this going to work? This report clearly indicates the movie is aiming for some sort of theatrical release, but the prospect of sitting in a movie theater full of people trying to control on-screen action with their cell phones fills me with more anxiety than any haunted house could muster. If this were being released straight to a platform like Netflix, like the choose-your-own-adventure Black Mirror movie Bandersnatch, I’d be a little less concerned.

And yet I can’t deny I’m curious. The amount of talent behind this endeavor is promising, and I’m always up for a good haunted house movie. Still, the prospect of requiring audience members to use their cell phones during a movie sounds like a recipe for disaster. And just how the hell does something like this even work? What if multiple audience members choose different options? In 1992, Loews Theatres developed interactive cinema technology, complete with joysticks mounted to theater seat armrests. They tested the tech on a short film called I’m Your Man, but the entire experiment was ultimately deemed a failure and abandoned. Perhaps Aja and company will have more luck.

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