Underground Film Journal

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Torture Ain’t Nuthin’ But A (Video) Game

By Mike Everleth ⋅ June 7, 2010

In honor of both Lost and 24 going up into TV heaven this year, here’s an oldie, but a goodie. It’s Kent Lambert‘s hypnotic and unsettling 2006 video Hymn of Reckoning that repositions the two popular television series as an extension of ’80s 8-bit video games. Lambert mixes audio from both shows with classic game graphics, then rapidly cuts together some of the shows’ brutal torture scenes.

Film critic Roger Ebert has famously — or infamously depending on your point of view — stated that video games can’t be art. But, I personally wonder how much of video game “plotting” has unconsciously seeped it’s way into other forms of popular, mainstream culture.

Two cult members set against a videogame background

For example, there were times when an episode of 24 felt very much like a live-action video game, where the goal was to get Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) into a confined area where he would have to run through a maze-like structure and shoot random terrorists who would pop out at him. While the show was never shot directly from Bauer’s POV, many scenes and episodes did resemble a first-person shooter game.

Lost, on the other hand, I did only watch the first season, but one could argue that the show was somewhat structured like a mystery-solving video game, where characters have to explore a limited location, i.e. the island, and uncover clues and solve puzzles in order to move onto the next “level,” i.e. a different part of the island. True, the Lost first season was much more complex than that, especially with the character flashbacks each episode, but it did still have that mystery-solving video game element.