Photo Credit: Christopher Brielmaier
Oni and I were invited to come back and review the Killers, a Nightmare Haunted House haunt in New York City on October 16, 2012. We’ve been to the previous iteration of this haunt in 2011, called Nightmare Fairy Tales, and posted our review of it, so we were hoping that this year they had taken some of our advice and made the haunt the better for 2012. I can say right off that things were definitely better, with the biggest issues from last year handled much better this year.
The runners of this haunt change their theme every year, with this year’s theme “Killers” being based around the examination of serial killers both real and fictional. They have displayed, on loan from various sources, real pictures, art, prison records, and other documents related to many of the people profiled in the event. It’s interesting and adds to the overall experience.
The first decision you have to make at this haunt, is the level of participation you want to engage in. As opposed to many others this haunt gives you the option to have the scare actors touch or interact with you. If you are ok with this (and we suggest you choose this option to get the full experience) they place a red X on your forehead (in water removable format). By electing to have them be able to touch you, you are often placed in special circumstances in each room, and usually one person per group gets to do something “extra”. Please note though, while they are not really rough in their treatment, they do grab you and move you around a bit, and can have you do a few things that may make you slightly uncomfortable (as an example, I was “forced” to feel up the wrinkled flesh of one of the actors–though it was a costume and not real). If you don’t like being touched at all, or have issues with this type of thing, then don’t have this set.
Our X’s Set
So, once we were set up we entered the haunt with about 7 other people. This was a better number than last year, and made each room easier to see and experience. In our group, most of the guys had the X, with Oni and one other woman also having it. They made a comment of surprise when Oni asked to have it done, which makes me think most women don’t elect to have it set.
Right off, they set the tone of the haunt by menacing you in a dark room. You are forced to move in ways that a masked person directs you, with X marked people being even more menaced and directed. It felt to me like they were trying to get people in the mode of being a captive, as if we were the prey of a killer. After this we were then moved into the actual haunt itself. Each room of the haunt was associated with a different real or fictional serial killer. There was a mini story to each room, which played out before we were moved to the next room. In some cases this was related to how a normal haunt works (build up, then a sudden scare), or done as a creepy unsettling experience designed to make you understand some element of the killer being profiled. There was a theatrical element to the whole haunt, with there being a desire to present and analyze each killer in a specific way. One room was designed like a courtroom, one in the house of the family of a victim, a few in the locations where the deaths were performed, and some straightforward haunt scare rooms. The overall selection of areas was quite intriguing, and had a bit of thought involved.
The ending was particularly good, with a blending of the story ideas with a good old fashioned “run you out” set up with the final room’s scare actors working in concert.
While we did have a few cases where audio was an issue, for the most part it was not too important to hear the specifics of what was missed. Our experience in the previous year showed the promise of this haunt, and with their corrections to group size, and overall better audio set up, we really liked the haunt and would recommend it. As a funny final revelation, Oni discovered later that during one of her participation moments, they had actually drawn a red line across her throat in the same red marking as the forehead mark, to simulate having her throat cut. (So as another tip, while it didn’t cause us an issue, you might want to wear things that aren’t affected on the off chance something gets on them)
The Final Gruesome Discovery