Interactive or not, a bad film is a bad film.
“One of the most important pieces of cinema ever made.” That’s how the creators of the interactive film The Weathered Underground have decided to describe their work, and it’s possibly one of the most hyperbolic statements ever made. While the idea of a choose-your-own-adventure film is interesting itself, it really only works is the movie it’s based around is also interesting. Which The Weathered Underground certainly is not.
The game, or movie to be more accurate, starts off with a series of video messages. Eric and his girlfriend Liz are in love, but for reasons unexplained Eric decides to break it off. And from here how the story progresses is up to you. At several points throughout the experience you’ll be presented with a choice, everything from deciding whether or not to skip work and go to the club, to picking between the blonde, brunette, and redhead sitting at the bar.
Your choice has a major impact on how events unfold and the experience is wildly different depending on what you decide. You could end up watching Eric being berated by his uptight manager at a pizza joint all day, or you could find him stuck in the midst of a drug-fueled gunfight. There really is a good deal of variety to the experience, which in theory will make you want to go back and replay it, this time making different decisions. But The Weathered Underground isn’t a film you’d want to watch twice. Or once, for that matter.
There really isn’t a story, but instead a series of random events that tie the experience together. And this is true no matter what choices you make. Things happen, you make a choice, then some other things happen. They’re never particularly interesting things and the film has a bad habit of trying to be edgy just for the sake of it. There’s bad drug humor, lots of cursing, and even a few lame sex jokes.
Making matters worse is the fact that, in addition to having terrible writing, The Weathered Underground also features some of the worst acting you’re likely to see outside of YouTube video. The characters rush through dialog as if they have somewhere they need to be, and Eric will frequently bore you with his existential inner dialog, which feels like a badly written high school poem. The film also looks bad, with low production values and grating filters and special effects.
The Weathered Underground is only around 20 minutes, but that still feels far too long.
Even if you’re interested in the future of interactive cinema, you should probably still skip The Weathered Underground, as it does nothing to further the medium. It may even hold it back a bit. While the interactive portion is relatively well done, giving you plenty of choices for how the story unfolds, it’s the film part that the creators neglected. And a bad film, interactive or not, is a bad film.