Haunt Review: Massacre Haunted House

Posted: October 13, 2014 in Horror Blog
Tags: , , , , , , ,

For the past ten years I have worked various haunted houses in Illinois. That means that I haven’t had a lot of time during October weekends to myself to do things such as visit other haunted houses. This year I volunteered at a haunt in Villa Park, IL for a few weekends and then dropped it for various reasons. Then the inevitable happens- the first weekend in ten years where I am not doing a thing (that being this weekend.) I got cabin fever real quickly. So I decided why not go back and start visiting haunts. That brings me to where we are now, friends.

So, at the moment, I am in the suburbs of Chicago where haunted houses are essentially a dime a dozen. Everywhere you turn here there is a haunt. The the issue is picking the best ones. Haunts are fairly expensive now adays, so you want to know you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Enter Massacre. This proptes itself as a “two for one” haunt with Massacre as one thing and then Fear Factory in 3D as another. It has been getting fairly good reviews and in fact is rated #1 by the Chicago Tribune, and I also found a $14 ticket coupon (normal prices range between $25-30 for a normal ticket) and also if you went this weekend you got two free movie passes to Hollywood Palms Cinema. So it was kind of a sure lock for me. Also the fact that tonight, Oct. 12, was kind of a rainy night as well as a Sunday and still fairly early in October I figured that it wouldn’t be that busy- especially if I got there early enough.

I arrived at 8: 15 pm in what was technically the exit parking lot. There is a lot at the entrance and on at the exit of the haunt. I wish this was more clearly labeled, but it’s not really a complaint. They had actors in both locations scaring patrons so it didn’t really bother me. I walked around the building to the front and entered the dark building.  As I had assumed it really wasn’t busy. I presented my online ticket and went in and waited in the main line. They had The Conjuring playing on their back wall. Now, this isn’t a complaint by any means, but I do think that it is a rather missed opportunity for them to just be playing any random horror film in the que line. I personally would have rather seen a gue video made by them kind of setting the atmosphere and introducing us to the haunt in some way. But perhaps that’s just the theatricality in me.

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The que line itself was rather boring. The actors weren’t really that energetic and active which was disappointing. When I had walked up and was getting in line I saw one of them cornering a girl and I automatically was thinking to myself “yeah, this is going to be great.” But the rest of the fifteen minute wait time was just filled with nothing. There were a few others roaming in the line, but they just kind of stared at people and moved on.

Then finally I came to the entrance. I was by myself and, shockingly, they let me go through by myself. I’m sure that had they been busier this would not have happened, but I honestly REALLY appreciated that. Like, a lot. I didn’t want to be the awkward random person in someone else’s group and ruin their time and I wanted to make sure that I got the scares.  So, Massacre people- thank you. The clown guy letting the groups go in was funny, and was entertaining to watch.

As I entered the house all it took was one clean shock to my hand from a shock pad to let me know to keep my arms tucked in. The first thing that struck me were the sets. Throughout most of the haunt, with only a few exceptions towards the middle, the detail was exquisite in the rooms. Everything seemed really high quality, and it was very obvious that some love went into creating those walls. Since I was going through by myself I did often have a chance to actually take in the detail which was nice. Even the makeup and costumes were really good. The makeup was well done, and really organic and consistent, and I think out of the whole event there were only two costumes I didn’t like or think were that good. One was a clown, who’s costume wasn’t tied very well in the back and you could see his normal shirt under it and the other one was the black costume worn by a female in the theater towards the end of the haunt. It just seemed cheap to me and thrown together- and thusly out of place in such an elaborate setting.

The use of animatonics was great, and the ones that they had really stuck out to me. My favorite being (surprise, surprise) the dinosaur in the jungle area. But I did have one problem with that one room though. The dinosaur, while a great effect and actually really fluid in it’s movements, was still very obviously fake. All you had to do was just look past the neck and see the bars and poles sticking out- which really brought me out of the moment.  Had the mechanical workings just been hidden it would have been my favorite room in the entire haunt.

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While the rooms themselves were quite elaborate and had quite a few hidden scares in them. they can’t hold the show up by themselves. The actors are the key, and this is the part that I am the most torn about. On one had there were some actors here that did a fairly good job. On the other there were areas that had nobody in them at all that really needed actors, and there were actors who were just not on the ball (at least tonight. As a haunter myself I understand, fully, that sometimes you just have an off night.) Now, I have a philosophy as a haunter. You have three options when it comes to interacting with guests. You can either 1.) scare them, 2.) creep them out, or 3.) make them laugh. That’s it. And it seemed like most of these actors followed the same logic. The problem is… they all followed number three when it came to me. The other problem is, it was always the same jokes. They were either telling dick jokes, or making some kind of lude comments. They also often whipped out quite a few rape-ish comments in the vein of Deliverance, in attempts to creep me out and, I’m sorry guys, that just doesn’t work for me. Be it a joke or an attempted creep out though it kind of got old, real fast because it was the same lines over and over, room after room. I understand that when you have a lone guy it’s easy to just automatically go to “that place.” But just remember… all of you are thinking the same thing. Stand out. Now, there were actors that did a good job of thinking outside the box with some comments. The demonic priest and the trans hooker near the end get the biggest kudos from me for being original.  There was also a clown in the 3D haunt that was pretty active and energetic. Neither of them scared me really, but they had some nice thought out dialogue and were able to think on their feet.

There was also a slight problem from time to time with actor energy in certain areas. The doll room, and the mechanic room are two that really stick out to me. The doll room makes me sad because actually, besides the jungle, this visually was my favorite room. It was genuinely creepy. I’ve been to many haunts and they usually all have doll rooms. This was the first one that really ever gave me any pause. But the actress in it didn’t even attempt to scare me. She just stood there. The mechanic in the next room too just kind of stood there and let me pass.

As a side note, I also want to give the church room a shout out for being rather daring with the imagery. It was probably my favorite room because it had a good mesh of actor interaction as well as some really disturbing content.

As I said before there were some seemingly fairly bare areas throughout the house that I feel could have used more actors, which was odd to me because there would be smaller rooms with three or four actors in them at a time. I feel like some of them could have been more spread out.

Also there was a slight problem with catching up with the group in front of me from time to time. Now, I thought I was going through at a good pace. Probably slower than most because I was trying to take it all in, and I was by myself. And I understand that people get scared and stop in fear and what not. But it was a slow night, and I bumped into them quite a bit and had to have actors tell me to wait several times. I don’t think that should happen. But in general I feel the pacing wasn’t that bad. All together it took me twenty-three minutes to go through the entire haunt myself (I timed it,) not including the que line at the beginning.

Fear Factory was probably my biggest surprise. Most 3D haunts don’t really have that good of a 3D effect. I can say, without a doubt, that this haunt has some of the best 3D effects I have ever seen (outside of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal.) The let down to me? It wasn’t a separate haunt like I had been led to believe from the promo material. It was just a section in the middle of the existing Massacre haunt and once you were done you went on with the rest of Massacre. I also wasn’t a big fan of the being reused, but that’s not really a complaint but more so a personal tick.

All in all I can’t complain. I got a good deal, and I did get a few jumps in the house. While I would have liked to seen the cast (in general) matching the quality of the sets there were a few that were defiantly with it and made it a really worth my time. It’s defiantly a production I can see growing in the future, especially if they keep going on their daring and ballsy path.

Overall I give it a 7/10

Massacre is located in Montgomery, Illinois

Recommended for ages 16+ due to language, and imagery. Adult discretion should be used to the utmost.

Scare factor was moderate for me. The jumps I got were due more to being startled than actually being scared. I’m sure others could rate the scare factor as high though, so it just depends on the individual.

Normal Prices: $23

VIP: $35

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