We talk a lot about immersive storytelling, but "Door Into the Dark" is a wholly original immersive storytelling experience which literally immerses you into the story. Though Indiewire first experienced it at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2014, it is being presented as part of Storyscapes at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.
The immersive documentary plunges you deep into the dark. It's a visceral experience that leaves you vulnerable -- blindfolded, shoeless and alone as you are introduced to an array of characters who lead you along the way and recount their own journeys into the unknown.
I don't want to give away too many details that will spoil the experience for you if and when it comes to your town. But here are some glimpses into the "Door Into the Dark" experience:
After entering and taking a seat in a small "waiting room," the previous guest to the installation stumbles in, removes their darkened goggles (which serve as a blind fold) and headset, provides you with basic instructions, helps you put on the goggles and headset, opens the door and leads you to a rope. You grab onto it immediately as it will serve as your safety blanket through the experience.
The door closes behind you and you are in the dark, guided only by a rope and the instructions on the headset. At first, you might feel panicked, but then you give into the experience. Not knowing where you are or what to expect is a little bit terrifying and also oddly liberating -- a little bit like I imagine floating in space might feel.
Though there is no narrative per se, there is a beginning, middle and end to the experience (though it's also really easy to lose track of time). It's truly immersive storytelling in that you become part of the "narrative" and must rely on all of your senses (except sight and taste) to find your way. There are some choices along the way (as well as an opportunity to cut out early if you've had enough).
Experiencing a bit of what it must feel like to be blind, your senses are awakened and you are left feeling both disoriented and hyper-alert. Though I never left the room, I climbed a mountain, explored a jungle and relaxed into a carpeted bed.
By the time I found my way back to the waiting room where it was my turn to deliver instructions to the next participant, I felt rejuvenated and fully alive -- much the way I feel after a satisfying film.
Watch a "trailer" for "Door Into the Dark" below and find out more about the project, directed by Amy Rose and May Abdalla of Anagram, here. Note that you must make advance reservations to experience it.