×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

VR Review: ‘Wolves in the Walls’

Fable Studio is having its coming-out at Sundance with “Wolves in the Walls,” a VR adaptation of the Neil Gaiman children’s book by the same name. And just like the book, the VR experience is mysterious and magical.

Gaiman’s children’s book, which was first released in 2003, is the story of Lucy, a little girl who sees and hears things no one else in her family seems to notice. And in typical Gaiman fashion, those things are not pink clouds and fluffy unicorns, but dark mysteries. Or, as the title already suggests, wolves, who seem to have taken refuge in the walls of Lucy’s home.

In the “Wolves in the Walls” VR experience, Lucy takes the viewer into that imaginary world, with the stroke of a pen: Lucy draws us as her imaginary friend, making is come to life line by line. That’s a clever little trick to answer the question most narrative VR still struggles with: Why are we there? Which role are we as viewers playing in the action?

Having answered that question, Lucy readily interacts with the viewer. Talks to us, looks at us, acknowledges our presence. Asks us to listen to the walls, which indeed seem to harbor all kinds of sounds. And hands us objects, including a working Polaroid camera.

Popular on Variety

The key to great narrative VR is to take viewers on a journey, engage them in the wilful suspension of disbelief. Wolves does so masterfully, for which that Polaroid camera is a great example. It’s a virtual object that you pick up with virtual hands, drawn by a virtual character.

And yet, you’ll immediately find yourself squinting with one eye, as to better look through the camera’s viewfinder. You’ll be delighted when it spits out a photo, which you’ll shake until the picture appears. However, the use of props is not gimmicky, but actually advances the story.

The same goes for interaction and acknowledgement of presence: Fable Studio put a lot of work into making Lucy believable as an interactive character. This included teaming up with New York’s immersive theater company Third Rail for choreography and motion capture, as well as a lot of smart use of light and other cues to set the scene, and direct the viewer’s attention.

The first episode of “Wolves in the Walls” VR, which was directed by Pete Billington and produced by Jessica Yaffa Shamash and is going to come to the Oculus Rift headset soon, runs about 9 minutes. Fable wants to release three episodes altogether, totaling around 30 minutes. And after you’ve seen the first one, you’ll hope that the next ones will be ready really, really soon. Because once Lucy has drawn you into her world, you won’t want to leave it.

More Digital

  • Billy Magnussen Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Spinoff With Billy Magnussen's Character in the Works for Disney Plus

    Disney is developing a spinoff of its live-action “Aladdin” with Billy Magnussen reprising his Prince Anders character. The unnamed project is in early development for the studio’s recently launched Disney Plus streaming service. Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script centered on the haughty Prince Anders, one of Princess Jasmine’s [...]

  • Bernie Sanders Trump win

    Bernie Sanders Vows to Break Up Comcast, Verizon & AT&T: 'Their Greed Must End'

    Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unveiled plans to launch publicly-funded broadband networks and break up big internet providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T Thursday. “Their greed must end,” the Sanders campaign wrote in its high-speed internet policy proposal. The campaign argued that high-speed internet access should be treated as a public utility, [...]

  • The Office

    Streaming Wars Heat Up Rerun Market as New Services Stock Up on Hits

    In a year in which more than 500 scripted series are on the air and new streaming services seem to debut nearly monthly, some of the biggest money being thrown around for content has gone to a handful of old TV shows, the kind that for years have hummed along evening television without much fuss. [...]

  • The Irishman

    'The Irishman' Nabs 17.1 Million U.S. Viewers on Netflix in First Five Days, per Nielsen

    Martin Scorsese’s mafia saga “The Irishman” was watched by 17.1 million unique Netflix viewers in the U.S. in the first five days of its streaming release, according to Nielsen estimates. By comparison, Sandra Bullock-starrer “Bird Box” scored nearly 26 million U.S. viewers in its first seven days of availability (Dec. 21-27, 2018) on Netflix, according [...]

  • Amazon, HBO Max, Netflix Dish on

    Amazon, HBO Max, Netflix Dish on Their International Plans

    It’s different strokes for different streaming folks as Amazon, HBO Max and Netflix lifted the lid on their international plans in London this week. Amazon said it’s not in the volume game and talked up a select number of hyper-local shows, while Netflix dished on plans to rev up non-English-language originals. The message from HBO [...]

  • NOBODY’S LOOKING

    Daniel Rezende on Netflix Brazilian Series ‘Nobody’s Looking’

    Having premiered on Netflix Nov. 22, “Nobody’s Looking” marks the first collaboration between Gullane and Netflix – their second, “Boca a Boca” is in development- and comes from a long list of new projects that the streaming giant has announced with it’s $87 Million investment in Brazilian content. The series embodies the streaming platform’s push [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content