By Tara Bennett
Usually audiences are bombarded with messages to refrain from texting, or turn off cell phones all together while watching a film. But what if there was a movie which encouraged its audience to fill the theatre with lighted phone screens? Dutch thriller “APP” follows this premise, encouraging audiences to download a real app that provides a second screen experience during screenings.
Directed by Bobby Boermans, the story follows psychology student Anna, who is balancing classes, living with her best friend and taking care of her brother after a traumatic motorcycle accident. She’s also addicted to the virtual world of social media, apps, texting and her smartphone. After waking up with a bad hangover from attending a party the night before, she discovers a new app on her phone known as IRIS. At first, the app is extremely helpful, not only with scientific questions, but also with her personal life and friends. However, when the app starts sending cryptic texts connected to the deaths of people around her, Anna realizes there is something sinister about IRIS, and she must save the lives of her loved ones. But how can she when IRIS refuses to be deleted?
“APP” will be the first major release from Ram Releasing, a subdivision of New York-based distributor, Film Movement. It has been hailed as the first film made with the intentional inclusion of content on a second, mobile screen. The premise for the film came about when Boermans wanted to create a film that was fresh for young audiences. While brainstorming, Boermans realized that young audiences were attached to their cell phones, even when they go to the movies.
“We thought instead of fighting against that problem why don’t we make use of it and develop a storyline around it,” said Boermans in an interview with UK Horror Scene. “That’s how we came up with the idea of making a movie about an APP that ‘goes evil’ against you. We started researching possible technology to implement as a second screen technique inside the cinema. We found the right technology partners to do this with too so we greenlit the project.”
The app uses SyncNow, a digital audio watermarking technology, which was originally developed by Civolution to prevent illegal downloads. Inaudible to the human ear, the audio watermark will send signals to smartphones, which will vibrate to signal additional content for the audience. By utilizing the audio watermark technology, audiences will receive sinister messages and photos during the film screening, and will also be given access to production stills and character bios. The app is meant to complement the film, but is not required to enjoy viewing “APP.” The filmmakers promise that the film will be fully comprehensible for viewers without a mobile phone, and the technology will also be featured on the forthcoming DVD release to continue the convergence of film and technology.
“RAM Releasing was created to push boundaries,” said Vice President of Distribution for Ram Releasing Rebeca Conget. “APP challenges the bad name cellphones have gotten in movie theaters and does it in an entirely ingenious way. Boermans’ film will have you rethinking how you watch movies.”
The Manship Theatre will have an exclusive Baton Rouge premiere at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts on Wednesday, May 14 at 7 p.m.
“It looks cool and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Jason Langlois, beverage service manager at the Manship. “We keep a look out for what’s coming up and we are always looking for interactive screenings like this. We’ve also done some where there’s Twitter interviews using Skype with some of the actors, so that’s the kind of stuff we look for. I think audiences are going to like it. It’s thrilling and kind of on the edge of your seat, and I think they’re going to have a lot of fun with this.”
Tickets for the screening cost $9.50. To download the IRIS app for iPhone and Android, text IRIS to 97-000.