You’ve most probably heard of the “Why So Serious” viral campaign for The Dark Knight.

Now, take that alternate reality game and combine it with Hollywood’s first-ever social media-driven film.

That is the premise for The Inside Experience, a film that pans out day-by-day according to character interactions on social media.

In the DJ Caruso-directed movie, Christina Perasso, played by Emmy Rossum, wakes up to find that she’s locked in a room not knowing where she is. All she has is her laptop and the world of social media to help her figure out what’s happening and how to get out.

Yup, you heard me right. More than 17,000 strangers on her Facebook page trying to get her out of wherever she is.

Oh look, strangers helping out each other. How nice.

The fictional story (had to emphasise its fictionality) has its characters setting up their own Facebook pages and interacting with real-life people as well as other character pages of family and friends. Clues are given everyday that unravel the mystery of who’s the captor, what is he (or she) doing to Christina, what’s the motive and other information that will have you on the edge of your seat.

I’ve been playing along for a few days and it’s a never-ending goose chase connecting the captor’s clues, random things in Christina’s room and the backstories of all the characters. It does get messy at times, but it makes for fun entertainment once you get hooked onto the story and realise that you’re slowly living the world Christina and her family are in.

Ryan Baker from Intel’s marketing department estimated the story will be solved by mid-August, but when Reuters probed him further, he admitted: “We are not exactly sure.” Judging by what I’m seeing now, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna finish anytime soon.

No word on who organised it yet, but all fingers point to 42 Entertainment that also did the “Why So Serious” campaign as well as a similar one for Tron: Legacy.

This video is one out of many sub-parts of the movie, with one released every day:

It does sound terribly scary knowing that participants could get sucked to this for as long as it takes to help “Christina”. Case-in-point: several people have actually called the police to report on Christina’s disappearance.

However, The Inside Experience takes pains to separate the line between reality and fiction: rules encourage people to be “in character” when interacting on character pages and the movie’s official page updates participants on its progress to remind them that this is, after all, an alternate reality.

I’d love to play on but I hope I’ll be able to will myself to separate reality and fiction as the days go on and participants begin to feel the frustration the character is feeling, not knowing the full picture of the plot and being thwarted with the captor’s devious plans.

xx Shah

P.S. The movie’s done by Intel & Toshiba, to promote the laptop Christina is using in the show. But who really cares about that damn laptop when there’s a crisis to solve?