Friday, October 18, 2013

Haunted Houses and the Joy of Faux-Fear

I went to a haunted house last night (well, more of a big warehouse) called "The Darkness" with a friend of mine and we both had fun. I've discussed horror movies on the blog before and have never made it a secret how much I enjoy Halloween and the month of October in general (its cool but not cold, the leaves are beautiful, I love pumpkin-flavored items, etc.) so I thought it would be worth sharing my thoughts about it and why it seems we as a human population enjoy being scared (as long as it is in a safe way).

I call the way that some people like being scared while not facing an actual threat, faux-fear. I think of it as meaning you are jumping and screaming as if you are afraid of something, and your body may very well react physically with an increased heart rate and sweating, but the logical part of you knows there is no real danger, and in a weird way that is comforting. I think in this era of life sometimes being dull, we like to occasionally give our bodies a jolt with a scary movie, horror book, or haunted house. Watching/reading/going into one of these items puts you in a world where you aren't just going about your life, you are instead running for it. You get to be startled and terrified, but also enjoy it because you know you aren't really going to die at the hands of some monster or cannibal-mutant.

When we see "A Nightmare on Elm Street" we get to live a world where nightmares can kill you and sleeping means dying a  bloody death--but once the credits roll we are free to go back to our safe lives. Going into a haunted house is like the next step up from just watching or reading something scary. You are actually in the horror story. You feel the cold air blowing on you, your eyes struggle to adjust to the dark, every step you take could mean a piece of the floor shaking or a window popping open to reveal a ghoul--its horrible and extremely fun all at once. Hence, when I heard about "The Darkness" I was excited to visit it.

"The Darkness" is often one of the top-rated haunted-houses on various websites that rate those things. Nearly a million dollars is spent every year completely renovating the attraction to keep it fresh, and between the amazing set-design and over 50 actors in terrifying make-up jumping out at you, "The Darkness" is quite a treat. The people behind it actually have two other haunted-attractions in the region, and I've been to the outdoor one, but for my money "The Darkness" is probably the best in terms of sheer scares.

If I had any complaints about "The Darkness" it would be that at times the artificial-fog was so thick you couldn't see the amazing sets well enough to truly admire them. Also, while some of the actors are great, a few seemed to not really have their heart in it, although some were quite good at eliciting scares. I was a little offended when one lady playing a demon-clown called me "Fattie" however and asked if I "Had any candy." Seriously lady, I came here to be scared, not insulted.

Going into a good haunted house is like stepping into your own horror movie, and going into a bad one is like stepping into your own lame horror movie. Thankfully, "The Darkness" is not just good, its stellar. As someone who enjoys seeking out faux-fear I am pleased to say "The Darkness" is definitely worth going to if you live in or are going to be around the Saint Louis area this October (and first 2 days of November). You can learn more about it at its website (warning if you are somewhere quiet, a loud audio clip with a creepy voice automatically plays), and buy tickets online too if you so desire to skip that line and just have to worry about the main que to get into the place. In closing, I give "The Darkness":
4.5 out of 5 stars.

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