Warner Bros. is taking attendees for a ride.
If you’re brave enough to hop on a creepy school bus in a parking lot just outside the San Diego Comic-Con Convention Center, then brace yourself for a VR horror experience that includes some of my biggest childhood fears—namely clowns and ominous children standing in the dark.
Developed in collaboration with SunnyBoy Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures, “FLOAT: A Cinematic VR Experience” is the latest event drawing long lines for New Line Cinema’s upcoming feature film “IT.”
As Blade Runner’s VR tent showed us, brands are stepping up their VR experiences to be more immersive theater and less gameplay demos this year at Con. And in the case of this scary school bus, you find yourself jumping on board to wait in a dark corridor. As a sinister soundtrack plays, the chamber begins to fill with smoke, mist rains down, and blasts of air fire from all directions.
Then the corridor doors open and you find yourself remembering back to your grade school days boarding the school bus, scanning the seats for an empty chair. But in the case of this experience, your chairs are independent swivel seats with a haptic Subpac vest attached to rest back. You slap on a Gear VR headset and the story begins.
Including the intermittent jump scares, there is a surprisingly solid storyline. Your journey takes you down murderous storm drains in the town of Derry, Maine, only to come to a terrifying encounter with the evil clown Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgård in the movie).
I don’t want to giveaway too many spoilers, but it all harkens to the darkest reminder of the Stephen King original: “we all float down here.” One thing’s for sure, if I was still in school, i’d probably be skipping for the rest of the week.
The bus and FLOAT: A Cinematic VR Experience are located at the Interactive Zone across from Petco Park. It doesn’t require a badge to attend.