A black screen. A simple text fades into view, “The first symptom is the memory loss.” As the words disappear, the silence is broken by the sound of chimes and the sight of a swarming zombie horde.The camera view glides down and around the feet of the undead masses and zooms through a ragged hole in a wall where a man sits tensely in a yellow chair, gun pressed firmly against his temple, blood oozing from a wound on his forearm. The tension of the scene is interrupted briefly by the calm voice of a narrator – the internal monologue of a doomed man. Immediately we understand his situation. Five minutes is all it takes to start to forget pieces of your memory. Five minutes is all it takes to begin the turn into a brain-dead, flesh eating zombie.
Many of the zombie digital stories I’ve reviewed in this blog have belonged to one of two camps: movies or short clips to watch or games and interactive material to play. Five Minutes doesn’t completely fall into either of those categories. It’s more of a hybrid between film and game; a blending between watching and doing. Each time the main character forces himself to remember, the viewer is forced to take swift action to help him remember by swiping patterns on the screen in time with the film. Every time he is thrown into action, the viewer also must take action to save his life.
Due to the unique hybridization of this story, I have used a variety of types of traits from Jason Ohler’s assessment bank that can speak to each category that this story fits under
|Content understanding||How well did the student meet the academic goals of the assignment and convey an understanding of the material addressed?||The urgency and frantic feelings of not knowing if or when someone is going to turn into an undead monster were conveyed extremely well in this digital story. Each time the viewer had to draw a pattern or quickly click on parts of the screen to save the man’s memory/life, it became a race against the clock to do so which created the necessary tension. When the viewer was not directly interacting, each movie scene was filled with nervousness as to when the next interaction would occur. These uneasy feelings are crucial to any zombie story, and this film nailed it in all aspects of communicating them. 10/10|
|Project planning||Is there evidence of solid planning, in the form of story maps, scripts, storyboards, etc.?||Solid planning is evident in this story in many ways. The story was well laid out, and the interactive elements appeared at appropriate and well-timed areas to keep the story moving along. The parts that weren’t as well thought through were the dying scenes. If the viewer did not click or swipe in the correct spot fast enough, words appeared on the screen indicating that you had died. In comparison to the actual story, this seemed very anticlimactic. 7/10|
|Originality, voice, creativity||How creative was the production? Did the student exhibit an original sense of voice and a fresh perspective?||This production at first glance looks like a rehashing of the same old story of a survivor getting bit and their loved one having to contend with it and the aftermath. However, some unique twists have been added to keep this story interesting for the viewer. Firstly, the focus of memory loss as a symptom provided a new lens through which to tell this story. With the main character so focused on remembering his past, it not only provides a good reason to show flashbacks, but also to provide a fresh perspective on how the zombie virus works. Secondly, the interactive swipes and clicks help the viewer to become more involved with this “same old story” to actually feel the tension of this moment. Lastly, the conclusion of the story deviates from the norm in that we don’t actually see the main character turn into a zombie after being infected. Though there is a twisted moment of memory for the main character, the resolution of the story shows the 5 minute timer going off with no signs of zombification. However, the happy moment turns sour when the viewer realizes the character’s memory has been wrong all along, yet we never get to see if he changes or not. This type of cliffhanger is unique to this old school zombie story. 9/10|
If there was anything I would change about this particular digital story it would have to be the death scenes. So much tension, anxiety, and frantic energy in the film and interactive portions made me wish that when I did die there were death scenes tailored to the spots where I died to heighten these feelings further. Instead, I was only ever met with text that would tell me when I had died – very anticlimactic. It was incredible how much of a mood killer it was to see those words. Even if the death scene had to be the same for each scenario (maybe a scene showing his brain waves turning off and the zombie virus taking over), I would have still been satisfied because it would have at least provided a visual to keep the original worrisome feelings of the rest of the film.