Shooting The Quarry Was All About Filming Scenes with Real Actors and Creating Both Digital and Real Sets
“It's kind of weird. On set, we're there, and it’s all motion captured. There’s like a big white set with a grid and there's infrared cameras around and the actors have all the dots on their suits, these little reflective nipple things [laughs]. And there’s a camera on their head and stuff like that. And we do build a set, because it is performance capture, but it’s skeletal. So doors are kind of just the frames of doors with handles so the infrared can go through.
When we capture them, they can see themselves on a TV, in full costume, all lit, all the effects are in there too. There's a fire, it’s roaring, and there's the moonlight coming down, all the trees are there. They can literally see themselves walk around. And I have a special stick that’s basically just a stick with some reflectors on it and on the display it's a light, so I can shine lights around and show them where to look. It’s super bizarre. They all freak out at first, and really just behave like children dancing away in front of the screen like, “look at me”.”
COVID Made an Impact, But You Wouldn’t Notice
“Usually each one of those things we capture in its entirety with everybody, but here we were having to do it separately because we couldn't have everyone due to COVID. Big scenes, like the fire pit scene, the super awkward fire pit. We split that up and had to shoot that across five different days because we couldn't get all the actors together. When Emma kissed the guy, he wasn't even there. She was like floating in mid air and squatting pretending to kiss. And then he was there doing it on a separate day.”
A lot of The Quarry is passive, in that you’re watching a scene play out as you would when watching a movie. The 10 hour or so length also makes character development and the tension build in a way that feels more like, say, a season of Stranger Things, than the original Friday the 13th. So with that there’s a lot of setup before the “last night at Hackets Quarry Summer Camp” turns into a nightmare. It’s a style that is specific, but it’s also brilliantly executed. For those interested in the idea of an interactive horror movie, The Quarry feels like the new benchmark.Click here for our full The Quarry review.
So many of The Quarry’s elements come together it’s hard to fault things like the limited exploration. It’s also hard to fault moments where it feels more on-rails versus something truly open and free. That said, the idea of collectibles as evidence to collect so people would believe what happened post-game is kind of genius. There’s a story that Supermassive wants to tell, and it’s something of a miracle that no matter what choices you make the story you get to see works and feels canonical. Except for the potential ‘Golden Path’ ending where all characters survive the night. That perfect run feels incomplete, which is a good thing. Horror just isn’t satisfying if it all ends well, so that’s more of a videogame thing for those that might want to give that a go.
For those that haven’t played this style of game before, it’s less a Telltale-like narrative-driven adventure game with puzzles than it is a straight-up interactive movie where the interaction part is pretty much a reaction. It’s a style we’ve seen before, from Supermassive and others, but it’s also a game that really leans into the capabilities of modern hardware, with near uncanny-valley-like digital performances from recognisable actors.
A cast that includes David Arquette (Scream), Ariel Winter (Modern Family), Justice Smith (Jurassic World), Brenda Song (Dollface), Lance Henriksen (Aliens), Lin Shaye (A Nightmare on Elm Street), and more.
From a visual perspective, The Quarry impresses even more so than Supermassive’s most recent The Dark Pictures entry. From character and facial animation through to the wonderfully cinematic lighting and genuine atmosphere found in each of the locales, it doesn’t take long at all before you’re hooked into the world and characters. Granted, some of it is on the verge of “too realistic so it’s a little off-putting”, but for the most part it’s impressive and above all, immersive.