Following a path similar to Alive in Joburg, the short film by Neill Blomkamp’s that ultimately gave rise to District 9, Argentine director Federico Heller’s trippy science fiction short Uncanny Valley is being shopped around as a feature film with multimedia aspects, with Independence Day: Resurgence scribe Carter Blanchard developing the feature take to show to investors. After a series of private screenings thrown in Los Angeles over the last week by the project’s representative, Scott Glassgold of Ground Control, that have built interest in the project, the short debuted online for the public this morning, and can be watched above.
Echoing themes seen in works like Ready Player One and All You Need Is Kill and inspired by the development of virtual reality platforms for consumers, Uncanny Valley explores the line between violent fantasies and antisocial behavior, the drudgery of poverty, and the exploitation of the poor in matters corporate and military. Set in a near-future dystopia, it follows the impoverished residents of a slum plagued by virtual reality addicts who earn a meager living playing violent games while serving as the workforce for real world wars. Sociopaths, wastrels, desperate or suicidal, they spend their days increasingly isolated and cared for, barely, by overworked social workers. The title comes from the term coined by robotics professor Masahiro Mori to describe the point at which something that looks very close to real, but not quite right, causes revulsion in observers rather than empathy.
The feature adaptation of Uncanny Valley is planned as part of a unique multimedia production that will see a series of innovative VR experiences made available via virtual reality platforms as the film nears release. In support of this effort, private screenings have included proof of concept demonstrations of virtual reality segments inspired by the film and accessible on the Oculus Rift headset.
Blanchard came on board the project after catching one of the private screenings and is interested in writing the script, pending his full slate which includes the Independence Day sequel as well as director Shawn Levy’s Steelheart, announced in July. He’s repped by Paradigm and Madhouse.
A Buenos Aires-based commercial director, Federico Heller directed Uncanny Valley, which was produced by German Heller through the brothers’ company 3DAR. One of South America’s major creative companies, 3DAR is a collective of directors, visual artists and other creatives based primarily in Argentina with US and Brazilian branches.