Sitges Film Festival 2017 – Day 8

Sitges Film Festival 2017 – Day 8

Completing the official programme of 255 films of fantasy, horror and science fiction, this festival edition also offers the chance, in the Samsung Sitges Cocoon Section, to discover and experience VR (virtual reality) in movies and free of charge.

You can find the first venue in front of the Hotel Melià Sitges (the main heart of the festival), with individual screenings, and a second one in the heart of town, at Sitges Miramar Cultural Center, where an innovative synchronized virtual reality movie theater is placed for up to 25 people. In total, they offer 27 virtual reality pieces, some of them world premieres – like Talismán, directed by Carlos Therón and starring Berto Romero – and 18 of them competing for the best VR experience.

Today we experienced one of the most outstanding VR shorts, who’s also a world premiere: Campfire Creepers: The Skull of Sam, by French director Alexandre Aja and starring Robert Englund. We could see both at Sitges this year, presenting their work together, and at the Zombie Walk. This piece is considered the first VR horror series with 360º vision, and it revolves around the urban legends explained around a summer campfire.

Equipped with Samsung Gear VR technology, you take a seat in one of the rotatory chairs, and place the glasses and headphones over your head. The immersive experience is ready to begin. All of a sudden your real world has disappeared, and you find yourself in a completely different time and place. You are inside the fiction, it’s suddenly night, you’re in the woods, and you’re sitting there in the middle of the campers’ circle, about to hear a horror story. You start moving your head, right and left, then to rotate with your chair, and you realize the images really cover the 360º. No matter what you do, the action keeps going, you don’t interact with the story, but you choose where to look, what to see, or what not to see. After a while, you begin to be aware of the incredible potential this new way of experiencing cinema could have. With genres such as horror, where you are pursuing a specific sensation as fear, and where the feeling in first person can be so helpful and adequate to the goal. But also in love scenes, or in action scenes, the placement of the camera could even eliminate the main character concept, turning the spectator into the hero of the movie (as Hardcore Henry (2015) already played with). In the interview with Alexander Aja, he was asked if this way of presenting fiction could really work with cinema, since you can’t control what the audience sees all the time, and he answered it was clearly one of the challenges for a director, finding the ways to direct the spectator where to look at, at the precise time, when he’s got the freedom to look in all directions.

From my point of view, VR turns cinema into an individual experience, closer maybe to when you’re watching series on Netflix in your bed or a movie on a plane. But not for this being less interesting, since it’s all about conveying feelings and explaining stories, and this stories look like you could watch them again and again, and keep discovering details, following other characters, and ultimately reading the story in different ways. I’m pretty sure we’ll see soon enough how all this technology fits into our lives.

But we also went to see some movies. Here is the list from what we watched today:

  • Errementari (2017) 5/10 – A boring basque horror movie with one of the most stupid demons I’ve seen on a big screen. Not even entertaining.
  • Mal Nosso (2017) 7/10 – A big surprise! A small independent Brazilian movie about good and evil. Although evidently low budget, the gore effects are very good and the filmmakers manage to keep the tension until the final twist.
  • El Conde Drácula (1970) 5,5/10 – The first of the series of Dracula films Jesús Franco did with actor Christopher Lee, and one of the most accurate adaptations of the Bram Stoker It looks old and out of time, but still has the magic of a classic.
  • Drácula Barcelona (2017) 6/10 – Interesting documentary with the creators of the previously mentioned movie El Conde Drácula (1970). Very good compilations of interviews with the cast and crew of the film, including director Jesús Franco and star Christopher Lee.
  • Indiana (2017) 3,5/10 – Two men help people getting rid of their phantoms and bad spirits. A well-filmed movie that sadly gets lost in a hollow and uninteresting plot.
  • November (2017) 4/10 – A fairy tale from the XIX century in the Estonian woods, surprising and beautiful sometimes, but which loses too quickly its charm.

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