Inspired by the series Mercy Street and produced by PBS digital studios, the VR film My Brother’s Keeper tells the story of two brothers on opposite sides of the Civil War.
Narrated by the brother on the union side, he conveys the feeling of how family doesn’t always line up from an idealogical standpoint and how that division can lead to separation and tragedy (poignant for our time, yes?). There’s a palpable emotional tone of regret and desperation in not knowing if the man you’re shooting at is the little brother you would die for.
Told from the standpoints of being a soldier on both sides of the war, the VR experience puts you in the field standing next to the soldiers as they work their way to the battle of Antietam, considered the costliest battle in terms of lives lost in the entirety of the civil war. The tension that gets built through witnessing the film in virtual reality raises the hair on the back of your neck while you march with the soldiers as they occasionally pause to drop a musket with the barrel aimed squarely past your shoulder towards an unknown enemy in the fog.
The end of the story takes a dark turn as you get a brief taste of a firefight and the aftermath that follows. Your heart pounds just before it breaks during this captivating virtual reality film experience.
Written and directed by Connor Hair and Alex Meader. Available from PBS and the Littlestar VR network distributed by PSVR, Vive and Oculus.
reviewed by Sean McKnight