Team Fortress 2 (TF2) is a video game released in 2007 by Valve. It’s a class-based shooter game that has nine distinct classes on both a red team and a blue team with their own play styles and personalities that have fun interactions with one another.
In 2012, Valve released Source Filmmaker for the public to use. This allowed creative fans of the game to make their own animations using the software and upload them to YouTube.
This is significant because of Emesis Blue, a feature length film released on YouTube for free on February 20, 2023. Written by Chad Payne and released by Fortress Films, it was made exclusively using the Source Filmmaker engine.
Emesis Blue is Source Filmmaker’s biggest, longest and most ambitious animation. Emesis Blue is nearly 2 hours long, has its own composed score, voice actors and a disorienting and intense psychological horror plot based on the story telling of Stephen King and the concept of infinite death.
In fiction, there are concepts called infinite life and infinite death. Infinite life is when characters cheat death and live forever which is commonly portrayed as infinite torture. Emesis Blue focuses on infinite death. Infinite death is similar to infinite life except instead of living forever, you constantly die and come back to life.
Emesis Blue takes the concept of a basic gameplay mechanic of respawning in TF2 and turns it into the plot of a movie that explores the terrifying reality of constantly dying and coming back to life, unable to escape the eternity of respawning.
The opening scene of Emesis Blue perfectly showcases the horror of infinite death. Emesis Blue opens with a dark scene of a large automatic door. Text appears on the screen like it is a corporate training video and reads “The Respawn Machine.” The text fades, before more text appears reading “trial #001.”
The door then swings up to reveal a figure. Quotes on screen read: “It’s eternity in there,” as the figure falls to his knees.
During the second trial the door opens again. The figure states, “My eyes hurt.” When the scene changes to a closeup, the figure’s eyes are melted out of their head after being brought back to life.
During the third trial the door opens, and the figure just shakes violently and uncontrollably. It is clear the figure has undergone extreme mental distress and trauma owing to the physical and mental affects of being respawned.
During the fourth trial, the room begins to flood with a black fog and tendrils. Dark lighting distorts and hides what happened to the figure during this final trial and only shows you a bit of the horror within. It leaves the fate of the figure unknown.
The film’s opening scene sets it up perfectly, the audience is immediately hooked because so many questions have been asked, yet not a single one has been answered. Who is this figure? How does the respawn machine work? It leaves the viewer immediately intrigued in just the first minute of the film.
Emesis Blue then truly begins, taking place on Halloween night of 1968. The Governor of New Mexico, Jules Archibald, is kidnapped. Jacques Murnau, from the blue spy class, is tasked with finding him with the assistance of Jane Doe, his personal assistant who is the blue soldier.
Emesis Blue visually is a beautiful film with fantastic visual direction. While taking place entirely at night, Emesis Blue still uses bright lights and colours to its advantage.
It uses colour, specifically the colours red and blue to show conflict, both internally within the characters and externally. If conflict is being shown between two characters one will be surrounded by a red light and the other will be shown in blue.
In addition to that, if characters are having internal battles with themselves, the scene will be flooded with red light, or the characters eyes will change colour to signal an internal conflict.
The film also has many instances of PTSD and panic attacks that use very visually appropriate animation while completely portraying the characters mental suffocation and fight to escape the panic attack and the slaughterhouse.
Emesis Blue is a film that doesn’t tell the audience all the answers. This leaves many questions up to the viewer to find out and answer themselves.
I believe Emesis Blue is the perfect Source Filmmaker production that perfectly captures the spirit of Team Fortress 2, while being a great psychological horror film that stays true to the source material.
All of this, the well written plot, the masterful visual direction and the psychological and analytical look at infinite death take place within the bright, cartoony and goofy universe of Team Fortress 2. It’s the perfect contrast for Source Filmmaker’s most horrifying and ambitious animation yet.