A new cinematic experience has landed in the UAE and it’s probably one of the only times that using your phone during a movie is considered acceptable.
‘Late Shift’ is an interactive film written and directed by Tobias Weber that allows the audience to change the course of the movie through an app using commands that appear on the screen, thus changing the fate of its characters and its ending.
The film follows Matt Thompson (Joe Sowerbutts), a student and car park attendant, after he inadvertently finds himself entangled in a plot to rob a priceless Ming dynasty bowl. After being kidnapped by the gang of thieves who are the masterminds of this plot, things go haywire. Matt — with the assistance of the audience — has to figure out a way to fix the mess and save one of the members of the gang, a woman named May-Ling.
First things first, audiences have to download an app and connect to the movie with a QR code. Once the movie starts, choices will appear on the cinema screen and the audiences’ phones for a matter of seconds, allowing you to pick the path that Matt takes (it’s majority wins, so the option you pick might not always win out). The options can be as simple as choosing whether he tells a lie or tells the truth in a particular situation, and these variations mean that the movie has seven different endings.
The movie is engaging as we follow Matt on this adventure, and its history as a full-motion video game concept is palpable due to us being able to hear the character’s stream of thoughts in a very obvious way. However, because of this, the writing feels heavy handed and clunky for what is meant to be a fast-paced action movie. The production value is a bit lacking at times as well and the storyline can be hard to keep up with since you have to pay attention to your phone and the movie screen at the same time, all while the twists and turns keep unfolding.
Despite these aspects, being an active participant in the movie makes any cinematic crimes forgivable. Since you have just a few seconds to pick your option on the app, you are forced to go with your gut and not think too much about the moral implications of the choice. It’s also fun to anticipate what your fellow audience members have chosen and whether they think the same way as you.
The ending I witnessed was jarring and not quite what I expected, and I left the cinema wondering about the six other possible conclusions and how my decisions might have changed the course of the movie.
There might not be much meat to the movie, but the technology and the novel approach to storytelling was something I thoroughly enjoyed and would love to see in other genres like thrillers and mysteries.
Don’t miss it!
‘Late Shift’ is currently out now only at Vox Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates for a limited time.