Oni and I visited Nightmare Killers 2 on October 3rd 2013 as review guests. This is the 3rd year we’ve been to this New York City based haunted attraction (previous reviews: 2011 and 2012). Nightmare Killers 2 is a sequel of sorts to last year’s event, with a crossover of serial killers from the previous event with a whole slew of new ones for this year.
Come For The Scares, Hear The Crazy Violin
New York City is a tough place for haunted attractions. It’s very costly to run one and their size can’t be anywhere as near as large as a theme park or farm based haunts. The only way to succeed is to do something differently–which is true of Nightmare. I would more properly call Nightmare Killers 2 more of a “scary interactive theatrical experiences” (a la Then She Fell) then a traditional haunt. Their aspiration isn’t to just have people lunge at you and scream, but more to guide you through representations of the mindset of historical serial killers (and some fantasy ones as well). Their method is also not similar to the standard style haunt in that your small group (usually 6 or less) is shown a full scene for each area before you move on to the next–there is no conga lining here.
We went through some creepy stuff, from John Wayne Gacy (I feel somewhat bad for the young guy in our group that totally got fondled by the Gacy/clown scare actor in this room), to Charles Manson (very intense area with a nice surprise finish), and a really off the wall interaction with Harrison Graham (I will never feel comfortable watching Sesame Street clips ever again).
They claim that they don’t want to glamorize or minimize the killers or their victims, and I think they succeed in that.
If you are shooting for a regular haunted attraction experience you can get most of that at Nightmare Killers 2, but I would not suggest going in with that attitude or desire. They are touch optional, so you should definitely take that option (and they are a bit rougher than some in that regard, but they don’t beat you up much, just drag you around a bit). They add some element of scare to every scene, but it isn’t what I found the most compelling–the overall atmosphere and experience of the actors is the true star of this haunt. This is NYC, go to this to see a show and you will really get a good experience and be creeped out as well.
Bonus, Scare People On The Street of NYC With Your Fashionable Markings
Now, some notes on some things: They’ve gotten better with their sound design, which from our first experience in 2011 was one of our bigger issues, but it can still sometimes bleed between scenes and make it hard to hear what’s going on.
Their group size is now pretty perfect, with at most 6 people being in the scene–but Oni did have a few cases where the other people in our group blocked her out of seeing things–the only way to absolutely prevent this would be to design every scene as a theater style opposition to the attendee, but that would cut interaction and involvement to the bone, just a note then to people to try to always move to see the action.
The ending this year (as in the last scene) was not as strong as in 2012, which really punctuated things–so I’d suggest for the future that they really make sure that it is a crescendo moment and maybe the most intense actor. One other thing I noticed was the scene interaction was a bit lower this year than last year as well–while many rooms had elements that they had the attendees participate in, it didn’t feel as intense as 2012 (but as a note, 2012 was very intense so this might actually be a mitigation for some people who might be happy for a bit less).