This is the amazing six-minute tracking shot that concludes episode four of True Detective, entitled “Who Goes There.” It depicts Det. Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) going undercover as a member of the Iron Crusaders biker gang, as they perform a raid on a rival black crew in the Projects.
Notice how effective the sound mixing is, particularly the incorporation of the helicopter blades, distorted by Cohle’s intoxication. An air of dread hangs over the entire scene, and when carnage erupts, we are completely immersed in it. The scene never cuts away. Like Cohle, there is no release for the viewer—nowhere to run or hide—and we are forced to live out this chaotic moment in real-time.
The camera locks tight onto Cohle the whole way through, never giving us a sense of what is happening outside of frame. It is incredibly claustrophobic and disorientating. And the final shots from the perspective of the helicopter are hauntingly indifferent; the people in the Projects—gangsters, citizens, cops—are reduced to a hive of ants that has just been shaken into a panic.