Crawl helmer and horror genre star Alexandre Aja has just lined up his next project for Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners, and it's oddly enough going to be an Interactive Haunted House Movie. This means that it will be an interactive horror movie with a branched narrative, reminiscent of those choose-your-own-adventure novels. Based on an idea by Howard and Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep), the screenplay is written by Aja, Jeff Howard (The Haunting of Hill House), and Nick Simon (The Girl in the Photographs). Chady Eli Mattar and Scott C. Silver of Kino Industries are producing, with Aja executive producing along with partner Greg Levasseur and Kino's Tobias Webber. Jeb Brody and John Buderwitz are overseeing on behalf of Amblin.
So, here's how this interactive horror movie is apparently going to work. Using an app filmgoers can download on their cell phones and similar devices, people in each theater and screening will be able to vote on what the movie's characters will do next at the most pivotal plot points in the narrative. This will result in the movie having alternate plots, endings, and running times depending on how the viewers of each particular screening choose to vote. It almost seems counterintuitive to encourage theater patrons to pull out their cell phones at movie screenings, although there will presumably be short breaks in the action to allow viewers to vote. Hopefully, they'll keep those phones away the rest of the time.
Aja's name is well known within the horror community, as the filmmaker has previously directed movies like High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake, Mirrors, Horns, and Piranha 3D. Just recently, his latest movie Crawl splashed its way into theaters, treating viewers with a horrific story about a young woman and her father coming under attack from hungry alligators during a severe hurricane. The movie has turned out to be a hit at the box office and has also been very favorable with critics, making Crawl one of Aja's most revered projects to date. Certainly, the interactive haunted house movie from Amblin is going to be in good hands with Alexandre Aja.
Last year, Netflix offered subscribers its own version of a choose-your-own-adventure style movie with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade, the interactive movie lets viewers make the main character's decisions. The story follows an '80s programmer adapting a choose-your-own-adventure novel into a video game with Fionn Whitehead starring in the lead role. While watching (controlling?) the movie is fun and reviews were mostly positive, the release was met with some criticism for being "too gimmicky," with many Black Mirror fans preferring traditional episodes of the series. The company has not since added any other interactive projects.
As for Aja's untitled haunted house movie, there's no word yet on when we can expect to experience it. Presumably, the success of the project will determine how many similar ventures we'll be seeing from Amblin and other studios in the future. Perhaps these kinds of projects will have better luck on the big screen. This news was first reported by Collider.