Gone Episode 1 (VR Movie)


GoneStarring Lindsay Pulsipher, Carissa Bazler

Written and directed by J.T. Petty

The future.  You’re soaking in it.

That very, very old pop culture reference is filled with truth.  While I’m no youngster, it still amazes me that in my lifetime we’ve gone from wristwatches you had to wind to smartwatches that you can do almost anything with.  From black and white TV’s without remotes to Super UHD TV’s that are almost like looking out a window, all connected via the net instead of antenna.  From Pong to virtual reality, entertainment experiences that make the viewer/player feel like they’re somewhere other than this world.

It’s the latter that brings us here today.  The Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus, is the first true VR solution available to the public at retail stores.  If you have one of Samsung’s 2015 phones, you can drop $99 and get one of these headsets and open the world of VR for yourself.

Samsung’s movie app, MilkVR, has premiered a piece of original content that’s the first of its kind in the world.  In partnership with Wevr and Skybound Entertainment, the first episode of Gone has debuted exclusively in the app.

That last company name should sound familiar.  Skybound is Robert (The Walking Dead) Kirkman’s company.  The writer and director of Gone, JT Petty, is known for several video game scripts, including Season 2 of TellTale’s The Walking Dead.  Horror fans know him from The Burrowers and Hellbender, among others.

Gone is the first full-length motion picture shot exclusively for VR, and it’s also the first interactive VR motion picture.

Gone is the tale of Amelia and her parents.  In Episode 1, we meet Amelia and her mom, with the girl playing at a local playground while her mom chats with a friend.  By the end of the episode, the title of the film becomes true, and the mystery begins.

All of this would be an interesting start, but what really makes this stand out is the interactive element.  Within each episode, a certain number of clues appear.  Each clue is a round “hot spot” that you can tap on using the touchpad on the GearVR.  This will zoom you into the clue, showing you a piece of footage from another place while the video continues to move forward overall.  You can then slide backwards to return to the main view, or let the clue scene play out and return you once it’s done.  That’s key because things keep happening.  You can be looking at one thing while something important is happening behind you.  Watching multiple times is required to see everything and get a grasp on what goes on.  While the main video is around five minutes in length, these clues and multiple viewings needed to see them extend that length quite a bit.

In Episode 1, those clues will show you many cryptic images, like a drawing on the wall of a piece of playground equipment, and some dialogue that isn’t audible from the main view.  What is the strange language the boys are talking about regarding Amelia?

As the credits roll, Amelia says a rhyme that adds more to the mystery.  She also lists how many “clues” were in the episode.

As with most VR films at this point, the video quality isn’t crystal clear.  I’d put Gone as better than about 75% of the videos out there, but there are definitely clearer 2D VR videos on the MilkVR platform.  The video quality doesn’t hold anything back, but it definitely has to be noted.  VR movie quality in general is all over the map, so “good enough” is definitely a thing in the VR world until tech and standards catch up.

The acting is also pretty good, considering Pulsipher is an industry vet, best known for her shapshifting turn on “True Blood.” Some of the kids aren’t getting award nominations anytime soon, but again, none of it sticks out as a major issue.

Most importantly, though, Episode 1 effectively establishes a sense of dread and provides just enough clues to get the viewer wondering what’s behind Amelia’s disappearance.  If you just ride with the main view, it’s easy to think it’s a standard child snatching from a public park, but after viewing all of the clues (which requires more than one viewing), it’s clear something strange is going on.  Hopefully we’ll get more exposition in future episodes, which should be coming out regularly on the MilkVR platform.

The big question: Is this a gimmick?  Doesn’t feel like one.  You couldn’t tell this story this way on a standard screen.  By forcing the viewer to be an active participant in the virtual world created by Petty, you’ve got what amounts to an entirely new method of storytelling.  Gone isn’t earth-shattering, but this is the very first one of its kind.  What does the future hold?  At the very least, more episodes of Gone, which is good, because I want to see what happens next.

Did I mention the price of admission is free?  MilkVR is a free app, and all the content published inside is free, including Gone.  That definitely gains it a star, as everything is better when it’s free.

Check out the teaser trailer below, and check out Gone on Samsung’s GearVR in the MilkVR app.

Gone (VR Movie)
  • Gone
User Rating 3.67 (12 votes)


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