‘Late Shift’ was supposed to be our first exposure to interactive movies that ran on more than a shoestring budget. Before going into the pros and cons, it’s important to understand the nature of this movie and how the interactivity works.
Here’s the plot (without spoilers) – you are a young man going about your daily, mundane life when a beautiful girl approaches you. Shortly thereafter, she is held up by a man with a gun and you have to begin making decisions as to what you will do, how you will behave and all of those actions – or lack thereof – have consequences, either immediately or down the line. Your decisions are made live in the movie theatre, using an app on your mobile phone. During what is supposed to be a natural break in the action, you are presented with two alternatives. They can be lying/telling the truth, running/standing your ground, yelling/whispering…you get the idea. This is supposed to make it highly interactive with a lot of involvement from the audience. It’s kind of like one of those, “choose your own adventure,” books that you probably read when you were young. You had to make decisions as to what your character was going to do and then based on that decision you would be sent to a page that would tell you your fate, and either end your adventure or send you further on your chosen pathway. Late Shift is exactly like those books, except with less interactivity.
You see, you are sitting in a movie theatre, presumably with quite a few people. Every person has the opportunity to decide which direction they would like the plot to go on, and so the decisions are more about democracy than how you are feeling at the time. Also, many of the choices that you make have no implication at all. For example, when asked whether you will help or not help a damsel in distress (seriously), even if you decide not to, a few shots are fired and then you are forced to help anyway.
Late Shift is a simplistic version of what we will be doing in the future. And that’s the biggest problem with it, it’s so simple that there is nothing to get excited about. With limited plot diversity, and robotic acting by some, it’s less an exciting interactive thriller, and more an annoying stop-start journey into a ridiculous and overworked concept.