A simple-looking wheelchair packs the thrill of both horror movies and roller coasters into one wild ride, Catatonic, Guy Shelmerdine's immersive new film created in partnership with MPC. Combining a custom-designed interactive feedback wheelchair with high quality cinematography and proprietary VRSE.works technology from Chris Milk's new virtual reality production house (read: VICE's Spike Jonze and Chris Milk Discuss the Future of Virtual Reality Film), the result is a terrifying new kind of cinematic experience. “[Catatonic] blends the real world with the virtual world, whereby audience members become mental patients in a spine-chilling insane asylum,” Shelmerdine explains.
At Catatonic's SXSW debut, a 1940's-style nurse ushers visitors into the chair as if they were new patients at a mental institution, setting the scene for the horror hospital (shot on location in a neglected old sanitarium in Pasadena) that opens up as they place Samsung Gear headsets over their eyes. A flurry of psychiatrists, nurses, and other patients whirl past the viewer/"patient," the experience made even more immersive through MPC's visuals and a device called the "ButtKicker™" that jostles the wheelchair at opportune moments in the narrative.
The feeling of Catatonic is described as "a unique blend of comfort and paralysis," wherein audiences get to experience the "full brunt of madness." Beyond SXSW, Catatonic's future is as-of-yet unannounced, but one thing's certain. Explains the Catatonic website, it's a "cacophony of terror and depravity one has to experience to believe."
Find more of MPC's projects on their website.