Director: Spencer McCall
The institute is a documentary about the Jejune institute, a fictional creation and component of an Alternate Reality Game, which many players signed up for and was played in San Francisco.
The documentary tells the story of the the creators and players involvement in the elaborate mystery clue game that explored a world in which the Jejune institute were the mysterious enemies of the public of elsewhere, a place where the missing Eva once dwelled.
The phenomenon is very interesting and there were some very real life consequences or casualties of the event, but what is most astounding is the outpouring of grief from the players when the game had to end due to financial restrictions.
As far as documentaries go this one was not expertly crafted and is very average at best, in some ways I felt that the quality of the documentary let down the genius of the actual phenomenon.
The structure of the story and questions that were asked felt rushed in the middle of the film, rather than using a format that let the mystery float until the end like the film imposter, I felt this one started to waiver half way through and stumble upon the truth too soon, which is a shame because the opportunity was there to create an excellent documentary film that mirrored the mystery of the game itself which could have given the audience a taste of the mystery that was created by the entire phenomenon.
The game was ultimately Jeff Hull’s Ode to Eva, a real life girl that he once knew that had disappeared, and like so many stories before it ie, twin peaks and the killing, the formula of an enchanting young beauty missing presumed dead proved a catalyst for Jeff’s fantasy world where Octavio Coleman Esq, founder of the Jejune institute faced rebellion from the Elsewhere public works agency and over 7000 real life players spent their spare time following clues to Eva’s whereabouts while investigating the evil Octavio.
It is worth watching, to hear the players and creators stories, and to realize that there are so many ways in which people process their own grief when faced with a personal loss.
5 out of 10.