GAME: The Relationship Between Video Games and the Modern Thriller

Posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Leaving a screening for DON’T BREATHE earlier this year, I was struck with a wave of nostalgia. The sensations Fede Alvarez’s horror thriller left me with reminded me of my younger days, hesitating to even enter a room in RESIDENT EVIL: CODE VERONICA. The stark darkness and overall sense of unease for every step I took was a heavy feeling that’ll never leave my mind. I was thankful, and impressed, that such mental consideration, from a player perspective, could be even vaguely recreated with cinema. I then realized that I felt this with an earlier film from the year, THE SHALLOWS, and then even earlier with 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. This was bridged with my fascination with last year’s UNTIL DAWN, a game that tightrope-walked the line of “uncanny valley” not only visually, but in its cinematic structure.

Aside from divisive videogame-to-film adaptations, and vice versa, the nature of these two mediums has always danced around each other, but never intertwines closer than with choice-specific storytelling. It’s a fascinating relationship that seems to almost dare each partner to try out something new. The unique outpour of horror, thriller, and other kinds of films that utilize game elements, big and small, in their form and function made me want to explore this relationship. In this video essay, I look at the simple and more complex ways video games and films, particularly in the horror/thriller sect, give and take from each others’ skill sets. These connections find root in game theory, cinema’s history, and ever evolving and cyclical experimental storytelling function. Also, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE was awesome, looking back.

Originally made for Maja Manojlovic’s “Emerging Digital Media” class at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Later published by Crossfader Magazine.

For educational purposes only:
This video is protected under the education clause of the copyright act. I own no rights to the material but gain no profit from their presentation here and cite my references for further investigation. Their purpose here is purely for academic study within the space of the classroom.

Movies Featured:
10 Cloverfield Lane
Arrival
The Brothers Grimsby
Children of Men
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Die Hard
Don’t Breathe
Doom
Edge of Tomorrow
Escape from New York
Ex Machina
Free Fire
Green Room
Hardcore Henry
Her
Hot Fuzz
*Hugo
-The Arrival of a Train at a Station
Inception
Inherent Vice
It Follows
Lights Out
No Country for Old Men
Ocean’s Thirteen
Oldboy
Ouija
*Paranormal Activity 2
-Audience Reaction
Paranormal Activity 3
Possibilia
Psycho
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Rear Window
Saw VI
Scary Movie
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Scream
Seven Samurai
Sicario
Snowpiercer
Spectre
Stagecoach
Stay Alive
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The 40 Year Old Virgin
The Conjuring
The Hangover
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
The Raid: Redemption
The Shallows
The Truman Show
Under the Skin
V/H/S 2
X-Men: First Class

Video Games
Bioshock Infinite
Borderlands 2
*Braid (NorthernLion)
Clock Tower 3
Dance Central
*Dark Souls 3 (Pewdiepie and Elajjaz)
Dead Island
Doom (2016)
Doom 3
Fallout: New Vegas
*Five Nights at Freddy’s (Markiplier)
*Gang Beasts (Giant Bomb)
*Gears of War (santosx07)
Grand Theft Auto V
Half-Life 2
Halo 2
Heavy Rain
Hitman (2016)
*Imscared (Patrick Klepek)
Infamous
*L.A. Noire
-L.A. Noire requires you to read subtle facial cues to tell if someone is lying
Life is Strange
Mass Effect
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
No Man’s Sky
Persona 4
Portal 2
Resident Evil
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Resident Evil 4
Shadow of the Colossus
Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Spec Ops: The Line
Tekken 3
*Telltale’s The Walking Dead (DSR07MM)
The Last of Us
The Witness
Tomb Raider (1996)
*Until Dawn (Giant Bomb)

Television Used:
American Ninja Warrior
Black Mirror

Music Videos Used:
Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen

Literature Used:
The Upright Citizen’s Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual
IndieWire: “10 Cloverfield Lane Director Dan Trachtenberg On That title, Hitchcock’s ‘Notorious’, and Video Game Influences”

Music Used:
Andrew Void – Mica Levi (UNDER THE SKIN)
Lips to Void – Mica Levi (UNDER THE SKIN)
Title – Disasterpeace (IT FOLLOWS)
Weapons Ready – Brooke and Will Blair (GREEN ROOM)
Spooks – Johnny Greenwood (INHERENT VICE)
Love – Mica Levi (UNDER THE SKIN)
I Saw a Deer Today – Aperture Science Psychoacoustics Laboratory (PORTAL 2)
Castle – Daedelus (NIDHOGG)
Super Mario Coin Sound Effect

Thanks:
Maja Manojlovic
Sergio Zaciu
Thomas Seraydarian
Ed Dutcher
Crossfader Magazine
Jonathan Mackris
Sumeet Randhawa
Mike Cosimano
Logan Day
Jp Diaz

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