© Horrified Magazine
There have been many movies that break the fourth wall, i.e. that have characters turn towards the camera and address the audience directly. However, I’ve always had a fondness for a rarer breed of movie that breaks the fourth wall the other way, that has people from the real world enter a movie. The most famous examples of this are probably Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr (1924), in which a projectionist, played by Keaton, falls asleep and dreams that he’s a character in the crime movie he’s in the middle of showing; and Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), in which Depression-era movie fan Mia Farrow and movie character Jeff Daniels have a romance both in the real 1930s on one side of the screen and in the black-and-white Hollywood fabrication on the other side of it; and John McTiernan’s bold but ill-fated The Last Action Hero (1993), in which an action-movie-loving kid gets sucked into the larger and louder-than-life world of an Arnold Schwarzenegger film.
With advances in technology, especially that of virtual reality, I suspect that sooner or later it will be possible for people to take part in scenes from movies that are simulated around them. This would be great for bona fide film fans. Wow, imagine being on that rooftop near the end of Blade Runner (1982), beside Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) when he delivers his heart-breaking ‘tears in rain’ monologue, or being at the airport for the climax of Casablanca (1942), when Rick (Humphrey Bogart) says goodbye to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman)! Mind you, Woody Allen (him again) has already created a simulation of that Casablanca scene, sort of, in 1972’s Play It Again, Sam.
However, human nature being what it is, such wondrous technology would probably end up being used for trivial, if not downright sordid, purposes.
And that idea, that in the near-future an app will allow people to take part in virtual-reality simulations of scenes from certain movies, but then will be exploited by lowlifes, sociopaths and perverts in pursuit of their own, base pleasures, is what drives a new story I’ve had published called Don’t Hook Now. This is currently accessible in the fiction section of Horrified Magazine, which is an online publication featuring articles, reviews and short stories in ‘celebration of British horror’.
Don’t Hook Now is attributed to Jim Mountfield, the pseudonym I often use for macabre fiction, and its subject matter is such that Horrified has decided to give it a trigger warning and recommend it only for ‘mature audiences’. In my opinion, though, the main reason for recommending it to mature readers is because only people of a certain age will be familiar with the masterly 1970s British horror movie that gives the story its grim turn later on…