Franbo VR, an indie studio based out of Bristol, UK, has created some iconic interiors inspired by The Shining (1980) in a short VR experience called The Caretaker. Distilling some of the film’s atmospheric insanity, the experience lets you walk the halls of the isolated Overlook Hotel.
In homage to Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining (1980), The Caretaker throws you into your first day of complete isolation in the mountain hotel. Like Jack Nicholson’s character in the film, I’m painted as a heavy drinker with plenty of empty bottles littering my room to prove it. A pre-recorded message hesitantly mentions that they “didn’t want to get in the way of your drinking to talk business.”
As a snow storm sets in, I’m carefully reminded to stick to my duties and not ‘go chasing ghosts’ for fear of some unhappy accident sure to follow. “We don’t want to come back to find you with a broken neck at the bottom of an elevator shaft,” the pre-recorded message tells me.
Looking around my comfy little hotel room, I see a pair of freshly wet footsteps leading from my bathroom and out the door, almost beckoning me in to see if there may be any nasty ghouls waiting inside. I’ve seen the movie. There’s a bathtub scene. And what I really want to do is call the police from my cellphone and catch the first helicopter back to civilization, but that’s not how these things work.
After a quick duck into the bathroom, I push myself out the hotel room door to see the long hallway—the very same that the film’s protagonist Jack Torrance traverses in his daily battle with insanity. Franbo VR makes good use of 3D sound as rattling doorknobs and creaky floorboards give me pause.
Unfortunately there’s little free roaming to be done in The Caretaker, but the experience cleverly you draws you from room-to-room with carefully placed light sources and open doors. I found it detracted somewhat from the fright of exploring the hotel with the constant safety net of a linear path, but this is after all a short demo.
The latest update now incorporates a VR comfort mode that lets you snap your point-of-view instead of using the right controller stick or mouse like in traditional first-person shooters. We’ve seen this control scheme drastically reduce simulator sickness in first-person experiences, and is currently being used in many upcoming titles to alleviate the deaded ‘thumbstick yaw’, which Oculus CTO John Carmack called “such VR poison that removing it may be the right move.” However, if you aren’t a fan of the VR comfort mode in The Caretaker, you can always turn it off.
We can’t wait to see more from Franbo VR, and hope they flesh out the story even further.
If you’re looking for more fan-made tributes to some of your favorite films, check out Picard’s Quarters inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation, or the Blade Runner(1982) inspired Blade Runner 9732 to get your movie fix.