Haunted House Review: Phobia
While Phobia is most certainly a bigger bang for your buck than its Screamworld counterpart, blowing fifty bucks on all six houses may leave you too disappointed at the money wasted to enjoy the experience.
Two houses, Dark Institute and Mind Control, possess the same ‘demented insane asylum theme’, a Halloween cliché that proved surprisingly horrifying. Both are well equipped with gruesome props, well applied stage make-up, and exceptionally disturbing theatrics; however, the similarities between the two run too deep to make spending money on both in one night worth it.
Dawn of the Machine, a Terminator-esque, ‘futuristic’ mechanical nightmare, was heavy on the dubstep and light on the scares. There were a few disturbing props, some jumping out of dark corners, but in the end tactics relied heavily on cheap hydraulic noises and startling bangs. The actor’s outfits didn’t necessarily match the environment, and the theme became rather blurred with different types of props and thrills that strayed from the ‘machine’ world.
Claustrophobia’s name was unfortunately a little misleading, as instead of involving incredibly tight spaces the thrill seekers found themselves stumbling up ramps and steps. The theme is disorientation and mind games, with a scare tactic of darkness and confusing images, which may seem worth the expense for some.
The driving publicity stunt of the two-story Clown Phobia is certainly the seemingly cheap 3D glasses, which fortunately delivered exactly what was expected. Enormous, hand-painted murals pop off the walls as you wind and weave through the house, and optical illusions created by the 3D effect are realistic enough to lead you to blatantly walk into walls that appear to be hallways. The clown masks are certainly creepy and expensive: the mouths move with the actors and several are detailed enough to include gauged ears, though the acting behind the masks was sub-par at best.
The large but underwhelming EXILE haunted house experienced a shortage in scare tactics, but improved their ability to cause a gut busting 20-minute walk. Though the “A’s for effort” were numbered out the window, the lack of skill and timing caused a new laugh at the turn of every corner. The actors’ abilities were quite impressive, some could contort themselves into tight corners. The amount of athleticism shown by some of the actors was quite interesting to say the least. Gliding upon gravel, hopping fences and conducting prone-style crawls under tight spaces was an ability not usually found in your scare house fanatic looking for a low wage job as such. The scenery was a priceless presentation. From the second you walk inside to second you walk out the end, it is like that of walking into an alternate dimension.
Exile consists of 3 different houses combined into one. First you step into a house called “mania”, where your biggest fear is running into half decayed humans. Along the tight corners accompanied by the close perimeter encounters with these actors makes the experience quite interesting. The only thing that ruins this experience is that the actors are not well trained at all in what they do. Their lack of ability to scare guests makes the $50 pay in a pain in your wallet.
The next house you enter is the “Dark World” where the theme is, “You are what you eat”. The house consists of half animal half human creatures crawling through a house, and partly outside. The effects of nature its self helps set the mood to increase the scare factor just above poor, which could scare a bus full of 5th graders, but not an adult. A great effort was put into the scenery itself and a great deal of detail, but the mechanics are not up to par with the rest of this house. At times certain mechanics would not activate until after the guest has passed, or times would come where you could see the mechanical failure and the scare trap would not even activate.
Last but not least the “Simon Fowler Woods.” This particular area contains the raging infection everyone loves, zombies. Though some zombies were detailed and designed for a realistic look and feel, some zombies were just poorly costumed. The lack of paint on some zombies caused the scare factor to lower drastically. The zombies that were well detailed made the other zombies look like guests of the attraction that had wondered off the trail. Though detail did play a big factor in this portion of the house, the amount of zombies chosen were not enough. Most times you will see the same zombies at 5 different points of the attraction. Not only that, but you will always have these actors that are considered persistent and follow you through the trail removing the lonely scare factor of being in these woods alone. At the end of EXILE there is a small maze to surpass to reach the exit. Only thing wrong with this maze is that 1 actor was assigned this area. This reduced the amounts of frights encountered in your final moments in EXILE.
All in all Phobia is a must see attraction if you are willing to pay the horrendous fee to only receive half the scare its worth. Recommended for younger children who have the daring attitude to enter these houses, but not at all recommended for those older in age and more mature only to realize what is made to look fictional looks more realistic then it’s panned out to be.