Blackout Haunted House raises bar on interactive theater
Gone are the innocent days of interactive theater, when legit lovers could attend “Tina n’ Tony’s Wedding” or figure out whodunit over overcooked chicken.Today, there is Blackout Haunted House. The extreme haunted house, a hit in New York and Los Angeles, promises to make visitors protagonists in their very own horror movie. Usually staged in an unmarked building, the outside of the Blackout Haunted House relays nothing of the nightmares it contains. Once inside, “victims” walk through the staged scenarios alone, heightening the sense of terror. Armed with just a paper mask and a flashlight, participants visit one twisted vignette after another, exploring the depths of the House and being forced into terrifying situations by the House actors Past Blackout Haunted Houses have included simulated water boarding, handcuffs, blindfolds, head covers and nudity. A lot of nudity There is a reason that the Blackout Haunted House comes equipped with a safe word. Josh Randall, a vet of over 30 theater productions, andKristjan Thor, a legit helmer, launched the modern-day Grand Guignol as an off-season theater venture in summer 2009 in New York. They both loved theater and horror pics. “Kris and I have been working together for 10 years in theater production,” says Randall. “We shared an impulse to do something experimental and create a strong response from our audience. The people who buy a ticket share a desire for extreme experiences. This is for adventure seekers.” Adventure would be putting it mildly. Guests must sign a waiver to experience the Blackout Haunted House, which explains that they will be touched, drenched, exposed to loud noises and strobe lights, adult situations and violence. Attendees must follow the actors’ commands. Anyone who does not follow the rules, obey the actors or speaks the safe word is ejected from the House without a refund. “We are amazed that a majority of people do what we tell them to do. People crave these intense experiences,” laughs Randall.