British video game designer Sam Barlow is one of those few names whose paw has become impossible to discern. In 2009, he offers a very personal vision of the horror license silent Hill with the episode noticed Shattered Memories. Then, he restores his letters of nobility to live action with the inventive Her Story (2015) and its spiritual sequel, Telling Lies (2019). Here it is again today with immortality (PC, Mac, Xbox and mobiles), accompanied by his two hobbies: the investigation and a good old camera.
immortality tells the story of Marissa Marcel, a fictional actress of French origin whose career began in the late 1960s and ended with her unexplained disappearance on the edge of the new millennium. The player, in possession of a large quantity of reels, will navigate from sequence to sequence, from rushes to making of, to determine the reasons for the strange fate of the actress: all the productions in which she shares the bill have never been released in theaters.
A Kubrick-à-brac of references
The title requires manipulation of an editing table to read, rewind, fast-track films in order to recognize notable elements in the field. Then, by selecting, for example, an assistant who proceeds to the start of sequence clap, we find ourselves projected into a new film where this same assistant can be seen. Itou for a clock, a gun or possibly a fruit basket.
Only in this way, step by step, will the player complete his collection of extracts and unravel the turbulent life of Marissa Marcel.
Three dummy feature films are available for exploration. The first, Ambrosiuscompleted in 1968 and directed by a kind of libidinous Hitchcock ersatz, seeks to adapt the real novel The monk, by MG Lewis. The second, Minsky, turns to the thriller. This 1970 film sees its plot unfold in the art world and is more reminiscent of the New Wave, but with obvious Stanley Kubrick-style baroque touches. As for the third, produced in 1999 and entitled Two of Everythingif he continues to draw heavily on the aesthetics of the director ofClockwork Orangeit also adds the technically cleaner cachet of 1990s cinema, as was able to Eyes Wide Shut in his days.
The proposed panorama is dizzying; however, everything that is shown on the screen is a matter of implacable mastery. The camera movements, the light, the composition and the sets are astoundingly faithful to the works of their respective eras. The very particular attention given to the grain of the image gives a disarming feeling of veracity to these films that never existed. The obsessive expertise of Barlow and his teams explodes in our faces. As for the actresses and actors, Manon Gage in the role of Marissa in the lead, they burst a screen already well abused.
When suddenly the realization
The scenario, well put together, surprising in more ways than one, does not remain smug in front of the universe it depicts. immortality scratches and does not fail to exhibit bluntly the violence of an industry in which the actresses are consumed by the sensationalism, the influence and the hubris of the masters.
In this respect, it will not be in everyone’s hands. The title doesn’t shy away from showing off raw sex scenes, surprising with regularly gory gothic imagery and exposing psychologically taxing sequences. The player, promoted to a voyeur director, must then proceed to the delicate sorting out of what is concrete and what is fiction.
immortality is a monster of evocative power and a breathtaking representative of the narrative video game. It is the most sophisticated tribute to the seventh art that the tenth could produce. As for Sam Barlow, he seems to be a master of both.
- the typical game system of Sam Barlow, but which is renewed in a refreshing way;
- the actors, all magnificent, all incredibly convincing;
- the staging, the light, the sets, the grain, the work on the sound and the myriad of references which pay a vibrant tribute to the cinema of the second half of the XXe century ;
- the scenario very well brought which changes the usual thrillers of Sam Barlow.
We liked less:
- a possible final trial and error, fortunately brief, when all that is missing is the outcome to be revealed.
It’s more for you, if:
- you like the movies ;
- you like video games.
It’s not for you, if:
- you do not live well the raw scenes, the psychological horror and certain sensitive subjects, like the rape, sometimes presented in a raw way.