Hands-on: Twin Peaks VR Takes The Festival Of Disruption To Glastonbury Grove And The Red Room

by Ian Hamilton • October 15th, 2018

An official Twin Peaks VR experience premiered at the Festival of Disruption in Los Angeles.

Presented by Collider Games, the demo was less than 10 minutes long in an HTC Vive headset with hand controllers. Twin Peaks VR uses teleport locomotion so it is perfectly comfortable for first-time VR folks, which likely includes some long-time Twin Peaks fans reading this post. For those unfamiliar, Twin Peaks first aired in 1990 from the mind of David Lynch to change the face of television with shocking revelations and iconic locales like the “Red Room.” The series ended after two years on a Lynch-directed high note, but those wishing to dive deeper into Lynch’s surreal universe filled with waking nightmares and doppelgangers were only partially satisfied by a prequel film, Fire Walk With Me (1992).

More than 25 years later Showtime brought Twin Peaks back with Lynch directing 18 mind-bending episodes which aired last year. Many cast members came back to their roles for Twin Peaks: The Return including original stars Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee. Over the weekend Twin Peaks VR offered some fans their first chance to visit two locations from Twin Peaks — Glastonbury Grove and the Red Room. The project was shown as part of Lynch’s Festival of Disruption, a two day art, film and music event to benefit Lynch’s foundation promoting transcendental meditation. Photos provided courtesy of The David Lynch Foundation show Kimmy Robertson, who plays Lucy, checking out the experience.

Kimmy Robertson (Lucy from Twin Peaks) tries an HTC Vive at the Festival of Disruption. Photos above courtesy of the David Lynch Foundation.

The experience started with a flashlight out in the forest in search of Glastonbury Grove, a place which serves as a kind of portal to the “Red Room” — a place I was both afraid and excited to visit. Because the experience uses teleportation for movement it should be comfortable for most users. Some early VR headset buyers find the teleportation movement style breaks their sense of immersion and prefer to have the option to move freely around the environment using sticks or touchpads, like in a traditional video game. More on this near the end of the article.

I could see the owls watching me from the trees and Glastonbury Grove was just a few teleports away. I quickly found my way into the Red Room looking into the murky puddle on the ground. From there I saw a number of iconic items including a ring, coffee, white horse and the “evolution of the arm” — with familiar sound and lighting effects that were also alarming, like a section where the room and curtains seemed to darken so I couldn’t see into the corners anymore. I tried to escape through the virtual curtains but I was almost too afraid to reach forward and move them aside.  Indeed, the very last segment of the official Twin Peaks VR preview artificially shook my view for a few seconds — like I was getting ripped from that world.

Overall the Twin Peaks VR preview was clearly a very early or small piece of what the project could be and I’ll be curious to see what comes of it. I was told by folks running the VR equipment at Festival of Disruption that I couldn’t shoot images or video of the screen, so I’m unable to show you more of what the official experience looked like.

One thing I want to share is that I also have an early version of The Archivist VR built by some fans of Twin Peaks. This unofficial fan-made experience — which I had on my computer before I knew the official experience existed — includes a sequence that pays homage to the TV show’s opening with a story built around investigation at an FBI office. Here’s the trailer for the unofficial experience:

This unofficial version offers free stick-based movement by default and I gave myself simulator sickness when I tried it. A newer version is said to help with that problem. Here’s a short clip of The Archivist VR showing a section with sound design that scared me.

Update: Post updated with the trailer for the unofficial fan experience Archivist VR.

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