It's a sad fact that despite the huge wave of virtual reality hype we're currently in, our generation doesn't have its Strange Days or Lawnmower Man or any other stylish blockbuster about the dangers of VR. Sure, Ready Player One is in the works, but that's not the kind of self-consciously gritty cyberpunk I'm talking about here. No, I'm talking about something more like Uncanny Valley, an 8-minute short that seems destined for a feature film adaptation in the tradition of District 9.
Uncanny Valley feels like an intentionally derivative piece of work. Parts of it look a lot like Eran Fowler's famous piece of VR art, and it could easily be a less surreal remake of the 2001 movie Avalon. It's about a world where social misfits exorcise their violent impulses in a fantasy world, and I'm pretty sure I'll spoil the twist for most people just by mentioning that there's a twist. Sorry.
At the same time, it's incredibly stylish and well-paced, shot in a combination of documentary-style footage and in-game video. Its version of virtual reality hardware is an immersive nose ring, which is just a fantastic idea on its own. There's also a certain amount of fun in going through and ticking off the cultural influences. It shows just how deeply virtual reality tropes are engrained in our culture, and how much you can still do with them. The only thing that's really missing is an adaptation you can actually experience in VR. But given the premise, you might not want to.