When he was a boy, director Guy Shelmerdine had a birthday party fail. "I was around 5 and the clown that was supposed to show up to my party didn't," he recalls. "So my uncle stood in with a makeshift, ad hoc costume using some of my mum's clothing, red lipstick on his nose and an old wig from the dressing-up chest." Combined with subpar clowning and a high-pitched voice, he "ended up scaring the shit out of all the kids at the party."
The terror didn't stop there. His uncle, and a whole host of other creepy clowns continued to haunt Shelmerdine in a recurring bad dream. The "cackle" of his uncle's laugh, he says, stayed with him over the years. Now, the British-born Shelmerdine, founder of virtual reality production studio Dark Corner, and an award-winning commercial director for clients including Mini Cooper, Ikea, Virgin Mobile and Coca-Cola, is looking to share that particular nightmare with others.
His new clown-themed virtual reality thriller, "Night Night"—which recently debuted at the New York Film Festival and was co-produced by MPC—is set in a child's bedroom, with you, the viewer, as a young boy whose mother tucks you into bed with an unsettling story about a sinister-looking, big-mouthed clown. It's merely a taste of things to come once mama turns off the lights and shuts the bedroom door.
The movie debuts for a mass audience on Dark Corner's new, eponymous VR horror app, which also features scares from other VR fright-makers. They include "Burlap" from Justin Denton, which goes into the lair of a disturbed killer, and "Sonar," an outer-space thriller from Philipp Maas and Dominik Stockhausen. And you can view "Mule," Shelmerdine's even darker tale in which you become a drug mule who OD's while hooking up with a prostitute, goes on an ambulance ride and on to the morgue—where you get to decide whether to be buried or cremated.