Haunt Review: Shock House

Posted: October 27, 2014 in Horror Blog
Tags: , , , , , ,

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I was in the Quad Cities this past weekend, which is where I haunted during my college years (2010-14.) Since I was working throughout my college experience I never really had a chance to visit haunts in the area. So I looked up the haunts in the area, and found this one- Shock House. I had never heard of this one before, and I’m not sure if this was their first year riding solo (because apparently the group putting this on had worked with Factory of Fear, another local QC haunt, for the four years prior.) So I assume this was this houses first year. And that would, unfortunately, make sense.

Now, before I begin with my actual review/critique of the production I need to say something. I 100% believe in this group’s mission statement and think it is great what they are doing. Blind Crow Productions LLC (the group that produces Shock House) is all about giving the youth of the QC “business like experience.” They also run a canned food drive at the haunt, offering to take $1 off if you bring in canned food items. And on top of everything else, a percentage of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior project. These are good people, with good intentions, and I support that. All that being said though… I really did not enjoy this haunted house. While the concept is great, and you can tell that some thought went in to the layout of the event, the follow-through was poorly executed and the overall attraction lacked scares and energy.

It’s hard to make out exactly where the haunt is. If you take 5th Ave like you are heading towards the District in Rock Island, IL (or Skellington for that matter,) once you get to the main curve past 30th st near Augustana, there will be a few signs that you’ll need to keep an eye out for. They have arrows and will generally direct you towards the lot that is used for the event. It’s in the QC Expo Center. On the side of the building you’ll see the name of the event projected with a gobo (see image above.)

The lot is pretty lifeless, and you can walk straight up to the building without encountering a single actor. Inside there are two actors (that I saw) roaming around trying to scare people. A “ring master” looking actor, and then a kind of jawless zombie. While the makeup. mask, and costumes looked great the actors didn’t really do that much to startle other than walking around  and leaning in towards you. The line wasn’t that long. We went on Saturday, Oct. 25th at around 10:45 PM and walked into the haunt at 10:55 PM.

Once inside the haunt you are engulfed in total blackness. It is basically a giant black maze, with a few staged rooms here and there. There are jump scares and drop panels all along the way though, to try and keep you on your toes. All in all it was about a 15 min walk through, and that was more because the maze got confusing.

Now, I will say, the dark hallway concept was my favorite part about this haunt. Lots of haunts are doing “black out mazes” but they aren’t really effective other than for being used to hide shock pads and drop panels. This maze was tight, and claustrophobic. And even though the pathway never veered off in separate routes (which I was almost positive that at some point it would) it was disorienting. You never really had a good sense of where you were or which direction you were going.

Unfortunately that is the extent for how “scary” this haunt got. There is seemingly no sense of pacing out the rooms or the scares. We’d go maybe two minutes without a single sight of an actor, then we’d hit around three or four in one spot. The haunt isn’t THAT big- the actors need to be spaced out. There also isn’t enough room for that many actors in one area. Multiple times I’d have to push my way through actors who were bunched up in one location.

The actors themselves had no energy. Out of the entire haunt, the only actor that seemed to be in to what they were doing was this actress in a room with bloody strips of cloth hanging down, that just screamed at us. Was was in character and stayed there while we were in her space. From the rest of the cast we’d be lucky to sometimes get a weak “grrr.” I was super upset when I was pinned between two actors, who didn’t realize I was a guest and once they did they said “Oh, s—” and just walked away. WHAT THE HECK!? Seriously? No attempt to even scare me, and when my girlfriend and friend caught up to me finally the actors just let them. They didn’t even try then to scare any of us. I was super disappointed in this cast.

The drop panels and pop up scares got old, real fast. They never changed up the style of how these scares happened, and they (like the rest of the house) were poorly paced. And then, to top it all off, one of them was synced with the recorded phrase “surprise mother f—–.” It didn’t shock me. It didn’t scare me. It didn’t surprise me. It just pissed me off. If you are going to use language in a house, it better be for a damn good reason. Otherwise it’s pointless and stupid, and in my opinion makes you seem cheap. You’re resorting to using language to try and scare people. That’s sad.

The rooms themselves weren’t bad. None of them had any scares in them what so ever that I noticed. The only one that came close was the hallway full of clothes on racks. But all of the other rooms seemed bare, and I’m not sure if there were any actors in them at all.

I will say the one trick that made me take a step back was near the end there is an animatronic clown that drops down from the ceiling. I never do well with things above me. So that one startled me, but it just repeated the same motion again and again and got repetitive and not scary- like the rest of the house.

Then you get to the end of the haunt only to find… nothing. Nobody is there to chase you out. Nobody is there to try and scare you one last time. It just ends and you walk out of the expo center.

This house seriously disappointing me. No scares and a lifeless cast made for a miserable romp through tight dark halls. If this was this groups first year I’m hoping that in future years they learn from their mistakes this year. Better pacing and much more active cast of characters could have done wonders and really sold this house. As I said before the general concept wasn’t bad and you can tell some effort went in to planning it. I just would have liked to have seen the same effort across the board in all areas.

Rating of Shock House: 3/10

Price:

$7.00 admission night October 12th

$1.00 off admission with a canned good

 ½ off with a Valid Military I.D.

$10.00 admission on Thursday the 30th

2 for $20.0 with Factory of Fear- 2 haunts one price

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