Haunted houses are designed to scare the shit out of you. Their mission: complete immersion in the world of terror. You don't just watch violence and fear like you would in a movie; you are a tool for violence and fear. Your heart pounds, your palms sweat, and you want to run even though logically you know that there is nothing to be afraid of.
A prefect example: Blackout, New York City's scariest haunted house. (There's one in Los Angeles, too.) The creators, Josh Randall and Kris Thor, are evil geniuses designing the experience to simulate their own deepest darkest fears since 2009. “We kind of just sort of did it to see what would happen, and within two days there was a line around the corner," says Randall. "We were touching people, making them sign waivers and seeing just how far people will take themselves.”
Oh yeah, there’s a waiver. It’s given to you when you first arrive at the obscure location, which doesn’t even have a sign above the door - you have to just know that this is the place where horror-junkies come to die. You’re given this waiver by two stone-faced physically-imposing men who don’t break their character for anything, and you realize that this is the beginning of psychological torture. You want to connect with people, you want reassurance that no, you’re really not going to get hurt, and the waiver is simply for insurance purposes.
But that reassurance doesn’t come.
The waiting game is what really builds up the anticipation and wreaks havoc on the body. The room they have you waiting in is dark, if not borderline pitch-black, and the man in a suit who brings you downstairs barks at you to “get against the wall.” Your heels must be directly against that brick otherwise he’ll yell again.
Brittany Smith and I arrived early, so we were forced to wait in that dark room a good 30 minutes. We met a girl who came by herself last year and she described Blackout as, “the most screwed up experience you’ll ever have. My friends refuse to come with me. Yes, it’s that bad.” Needless to say, she didn’t help calm our nerves at all.