Late Shift REVIEW
Release: Out Now
Format: Theatrical Release & iOS App
Age Rating: 17+
Price: £7.99 (iOS App)
CtrlMovie’s interactive film Late Shift is the answer for anyone who’s been bored by a movie’s linear plotting and longed to take control. Originally released as an app for iPhones and iPads, the game sees players make decisions for Matt, a student who is forced to take part in a heist in a London auction house, as events take a turn for the worse.
That Choose Your Own Adventure-style video game has now been turned into a cinematic experience where you, the viewer, decide the outcome via a majority vote in real-time. With seven endings and countless different routes to choose from (there are 180 potential decision points), Late Shift brings a unique experience to film. Its strength lies in that multi-faceted story, allowing Matt to take part in the heist willingly or sabotage it, save the day or betray those around him to come out on top. Even if some endings don’t seem as strong as others, for once it doesn’t matter, because if you don’t like the ending you can download the app and try another one.
From an entertainment point of view, it helps that director Tobias Weber’s film offers beautiful cinematography, with a sleek London nightscape as its backdrop. There are also solid performances from the cast, particularly the film’s lead, Joe Sowerbutts. To take on one version of a character is hard enough, but to deliver several different versions of the same scenario is impressive, and Sowerbutts’ nuanced performances are a highlight. He also shares good chemistry with Haruka Abe, who plays May-Ling, and her performance is admirable for its compassion. All in all, Late Shift makes for an exhilarating and unusual experience.
Review by Roxy Simons
Late Shift director Tobias Weber and star Joe Sowerbutts discuss the importance of choice.
Where did the idea for Late Shift first come from?
Tobias Weber: “At its basis is the notion that you watch a movie and often want to feel more in control – I think that’s something everyone can relate to. Also seeing characters in an agonising situation where they have to decide what to do and then giving the audience the responsibility to choose the right thing is quite interesting.”
What was it like to work with Joe?
TW: “There was an instant connection. When we were casting and he began speaking I realised that he would be really good for the role. He has a great face and was what I imagined Matt to look like, and then he was also a great actor who was incredibly smart. He knew all his lines and the structure of the script by heart, which is very demanding. So I could just turn up on set and say we are going through this route with these choices and he would instantly get it and just play it. I think that was an amazing capability.”
Joe, what were the main challenges you faced?
Joe Sowerbutts: “I think learning all the lines was one, I know it sounds ridiculous but it was important to understand the dialogue. Imagine if we were having a normal conversation and then a choice bar comes up and we have to wait five seconds – but you can’t freeze, you have to keep going as if it’s normal in the scene. That was weird. Another thing I found quite limiting was that you aren’t completely free to do what you want to do. So if I had the urge to move away in a scene, I couldn’t, because a choice bar would be coming up and I’d have to stand there for continuity. So sometimes the choices became a challenge.”