“Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone” is not a phrase I tend to pay any attention to as more than just pretentious bullshit, but in the case of Brentwood’s new 4D House of Horror experience, I can actually kind of agree. Being completely honest, I’m a bit of a pansy when it comes to scary stories and experiences, I jump a lot during spooky movies even when you can see it coming a mile off, so putting myself in a 4D House of Horror experience is about as far from the edge of my comfort zone as it gets. It’s not like we get invited to something like this every day so I figured fuck it, why not? Don’t worry I took a friend to hold my hand…
I purposely avoided doing any research before the event on what would potentially be lying in wait behind those doors. Would it be some Twilight Zone-style stuff or would we be walking into more of a Saw scenario? Well if I told you exactly what awaited then it would ruin the entire experience. What I can safely say is this: Be afraid, be very afraid. Clichéd I know but very apt for the experience. The House of Horror experience is harrowing, to say the least, and will test your mettle with every step, and that’s before you even get anywhere near to Room 13.
The website is deliberately vague and reading the information on the way to work the day of the event was more than a little disconcerting. As you read through what little text they have surrounding the experience you’re met with the same creepy and kind of generic text, all designed to try and scare you but not quite achieving it. It’s when you get to the FAQs and the disclaimers section that you should really take note, scrolling down the page left us thinking “Surely this is just marketing right?” and “What’s the worst that can happen?”.
All throughout the House you’re harassed, insulted, preyed upon and immersed in a pretty creepy and somewhat terrifying environment. You’re also urged by all involved not to go into Room 13, given the quality of the acting from everyone and encountered you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re just really good actors. They are, but they’re being 100% genuine while staying completely in character. Obviously being there as Press, we were going into that room no matter what anyone tried to tell us or convince us otherwise. After all, surely it was all just marketing, right? Surely it was just them trying to hype up the experience, right? Heh… I wish…
From the second you walk in, to the moment you eventually flee in terror from the House of Horror, you’re surrounded by fantastic actors and genuinely scary situations. Sure you know it’s all make-believe and no REAL harm can come to you while you’re inside those walls, but signing the waiver at the start has you doubting that, despite the fact that you’re thinking rationally at that point.
When entering the House of Horror, you don’t think, you don’t engage that rational part of your brain that says “Nah you’re good, they’re just actors in makeup. Relax and enjoy.”, instead, you think “Crap now what!? Where the hell do we go!?” this is made all the more terrifying by the fact you’re given a Safeword before you even enter the building, to use if you ever feel like you can’t continue. But surely it can’t be that bad…
The actors are all fantastically well trained and maintain their composure no matter what. The ones sent to intimidate can certainly make their presence felt, tolerating no backchat or bullshit, they can and will shout you down and make you do whatever they damn well tell you to do. Not to mention those who manage to cultivate a bone-deep terror in you, making you suppress a shiver moment after moment. And each of them will tell you not to go into Room 13.
Once we’d survived the first 12 rooms, we were spewed into a lobby area decked out for the Press launch, with one solitary table and desk lamp beside a door labeled “Room XIII” and a stack of more waivers. Different waivers to the ones handed out at the door and these two sheets of paper did nothing to dispel the growing tension and mystery surrounding Room 13, they covered everything from property damage to permanent physical and mental harm. After exchanging some nervous looks and waiting around for the room to be ready it was time to take the plunge.
I won’t say what happened there. I won’t ruin it for you, but when I say it’s not for the faint-hearted I wholeheartedly mean that, with every fiber of my being. If you have any doubts about your disposition and think you’re a bit of a wimp then I guarantee you that what’s behind those double doors will break you. It’s not a marketing ploy, it’s not a play, or some other cunning trick to make you think “How bad can it be?”.
It’s bad, it’s really bad.
All in all, Brentwood’s new House of Horror experience is exciting and chilling, it’s harrowing and nerve-wracking and that’s without going into Room 13, which is a whole different kettle of frogs. What occurs in Room 13 far dwarfs anything else you experience within the House of Horror, not that it isn’t a weirdly enjoyable and scary experience, despite the shock and borderline PTSD… If you’re looking for something to do this Halloween season then look no further than the eerie Brentwood woodland!