08/12/2018 – Faceless Ventures: Unwrapped

An image of a box looking not too dissimilar from that of the box from Hellraiser with the caption “Xmas is a time for giving. On the 8th December, for one night only, Faceless Ventures X will be producing gifts to be unwrapped. No details will be released prior to the show. This is for you to Unwrap.”. Faceless Ventures doing what they do best: building anticipation.

For those not familiar with Faceless Ventures, it’s rare for them to not release any information for their less extreme shows – Fraternity, Diary of a Deceased, and others all had the basic storyline revealed to us; this was not the case with Unwrapped which received a scare rating of ‘3’, which indicates that mild aggressive physical contact is used during the show.

After a lot of anticipation and nervousness, Emz and I arrived at the Mexborough Business Centre, Faceless Ventures’ playground. The anticipation didn’t have much time to build beyond that, as we were on the verge of being late: a quick toilet break, and we were in.

We’re led through very familiar corridors with two others, making us a group of four, before being led to the top of a very familiar staircase. We’re handed something – a jury pass – and are told to put it on. The stairwell door swings open and a member of the court escorts us to the court room which was made up of two lines of tables facing each other from across the room with a stand for the judge at one end of the room.

We were told to sit down, and we began pouring ourselves a glass of water, or at least tried to before we were back on our feet for the Right Honourable Judge as he entered his court room. We sat back down and the premise of the show was explained to us: it was a court case of Faceless Ventures vs the world: one by one, Lee, Sarah, Rosalie, and James all took the stand to plead their case, and it was up to us to decide whether they were guilty of crimes against the scare industry.

As each person took to the stand, we were given a little glimpse of four very different and very unique shows, some I have done, some I haven’t done, and others which have turned legend: Lee took us through the first scene of Diary of a Deceased, while Sarah took us through Primrose Unknown Project’s The Pit. we were then given a brief recess and a free drink on the house – a gross concoction not too far removed from a Virgin Mary. Once we were ‘refreshed’, Rosalie took us through a small game of HVRTING, with  James wrapping up the defendants case by taking us through one of the most psychologically demanding games in Cracked, all whilst keeping the show at a scare rating 3.

Once we returned – or rather was saved by Blake – Blake went on to explain why he does Cracked and the reasoning behind its creation and existence. The defendants were asked to leave the room whilst we analysed the final pieces of evidence, which included plenty of reviews from past shows (some of which came from here), as well as videos from ScareTrack‘s Mikey Stuart and Haunting.net‘s Taylor Winters, who each put their case forward for and against the scare industry: as a firm supporter, I found myself smiling and nodding along with what both had to say though it was refreshing and extremely interesting to hear my thoughts echoed by others in the industry.

The video was over and the defendants returned, along with all the actors who stood behind us menacingly – the one time I felt like something might go wrong. We were each handed a paddle with one side saying “guilty” and the other side saying “not guilty”, and after a few moments of silence we all made up our minds – not guilty. Suddenly, Pat Benetar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot blares out and I absolutely lose it and start clapping along whilst the cast of the show begin dancing and celebrating their decision to go free – who knew jury duty could be so entertaining?!

This bit will probably make the show sound like the show wasn’t inclusive of new people, but you can read Emz’s review here if you’re looking for a review from someone fresh – this really isn’t the case, this show just had a lot of meaning for me as 2018 has been pretty shite (as I’m sure it has been for you too), and it was an unexpected but entirely necessary and welcome gift to be reminded of all the good times I’ve had with the Faceless Ventures family and that no matter how shit it all can get, there’s always gunna be good times ahead.

 

Thank you Faceless Ventures for everything that you do – keep up the amazing work (even if I do think you should be found guilty for choosing that awful pic of me)! ❤

 

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08/12/2018 – Faceless Ventures: Unwrapped

01/09/2018 – R Space Productions: DEATHCELL

In a divided post-Brexit Britain, trust is no longer a concept which exists amongst its people. In an attempt to settle the public unrest, the government wrote into law the Harmony Act 2019, immediately setting up civil detention centres where anyone from the public can nominate someone who causes them upset to be detained. After years of corruption and misuse, the government lost control of these institutions, and they became their own entity. Those who were sent, often never returned – presumed dead – these public prisons earned a new name amongst the citizens of the country: Deathcell.

London’s Docklands are notorious for their quiet side streets that branch off from major roads, and this is where we find ourselves: on a quiet road in the middle of the docklands, outside a decrepit warehouse: two homeless people approach and started warning about the awful things that have been happening since Brexit, and how they’ve seen people go into the warehouse but have never left. They both saw we had cigarettes and bummed one off us, in exchange for a piece of clear plastic with the number “1” on it – weird.

Now, this is the point where I do a brief walk through of what I experienced to whey your appetite; however, this time you can see exactly what I can see (albeit much better because my eyesight is pants), thanks to the Go Pro that the wonderful R Space Productions let me wear!

please note the video contains plenty of swearing, sexual innuendos, and my voice. You have been warned

As you can see from the video, Deathcell lived up to its name! From the moment it began to the finale, it was impossible to not be immersed – the minimal lighting, the props, and the sound all complimented each other perfectly, and when combined with the truly dedicated and hard working back stage team, it really felt grotty and out of control – and that’s before I mention the actors!

The Actors, including the homeless couple that kept us entertained whilst we waited for our entry, really did themselves and R Space Productions proud: each character was completely realised by the actor who put 110% into their performances to really make each character feel like a real person for the brief moment we interacted with them, which is so rare to come by in haunts and immersive theatre – even when we were hanging around before and after, we had an actor or two come up and entertain us and even then they were still going all out, despite being outside the haunt. I honestly can’t say how impressed I am with the actors performances – well done to all!

There were a few niggles I had with the show: firstly was the narrative audio – there are a few spoken pieces played over the speaker system that were just a little on the quiet side, which is a real shame as I feel like we missed out on little bits here and there, and secondly was the lack of scent – whilst it wasn’t necessary, a scent pod dotted about the place really would have made the warehouse come to life as Deathcell.

 

Overall, I am exceptionally happy that R Space Productions managed to blow their Kickstarter campaign out of the water with their mad money raising skills, as it led to a truly memorable experience right here in the heart of London – I really look forward to seeing more from R Space Productions and will be back in a flash for more!

 

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RSpaceProductions/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rsp_prod

Instagram: https://instagram.com/rspaceproductions

Website: https://www.rspaceproductions.com/

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01/09/2018 – R Space Productions: DEATHCELL

02/06/2018 – Faceless Ventures X – IUXTA MORTIS (private show)

Cracked – Survival Experience is a notorious event in the UK haunt scene, which has slowly started making ripples in the world haunt scene as they teamed up with the legendary Heretic Horror House to create two of the most intense, violent, disturbed shows imaginable, Cracked vs Heretic; IUXTA MORTIS comfortably sits itself between these two shows in the Cracked mythos.

A set of stairs lead down to two doors. I step through the first and close it behind me. Knocks on the next and I’m guided inside. A white face stands before me, then blackness – my vision is taken from me. A hand gently takes mine and leads me into the room. I kneel. My vision is returned and I come face to face with a gas mask, which embraces me. I’m guided onto my back and my vision goes again. Silence, except for a bit of white noise and the sound of movement. A voice breaks the white noise: Blake’s. I live his life, or rather, death. Buried, alone but not, mourning.

On my knees again, the mask removed. The stoney faced woman from my time in Cracked 2.0 caresses my face and begs me to see the real me. A baptism by blood before ice stabs at my face – I panic but hold my breath. A mirror and a reflection: “Can you see yourself, Blake?”. Who am I?

Vision is lost again, and the gentle hand guides me through the dismal apathy. I lie down for the doctor as a wave of serenity washes over me. I begin laughing as I see shadows get extracted from my stomach, though this laughter soon fades. My head’s immobilised as the shadow of the doctor looms over me. I close my eyes and get told off: I need to see this.

Darkness consumes me again. The hand takes me to a room, and I’m sat down and handed a piece of paper: I read. “I am Blake”. My world is ripped from beneath me as I stare up at my demons – a choice, as heaven and hell do battle. I continue to read as my angels and demons go to war. I’m rushed out.

Au revoir sight: I’m back on my knees in the gas mask. Blake embraces us, thanks us, and we leave.

 

Who am I?

I am Blake.

02/06/2018 – Faceless Ventures X – IUXTA MORTIS (private show)

02/06/2018 – The Great Escape Game: Abducted

I’m a lover of extreme haunts: from the attractions that strike fear into the hearts of those that utter the name of the attraction through to attractions that present the attendees with bizarre and uncomfortable scenes that come across as slightly comedic, I’ve enjoyed each one; however, this is the first time I’ve ever had an extreme escape room presented to me as an option to start an entire day of haunting, and I was so down to experience one!

Abducted is The Great Escape Game’s 18+ extreme escape room themed around a group of people (the players) breaking into an abandoned warehouse and finding a series of worn photographs, only the dates on the photos aren’t as far back in the past as you’d like…

What happens next is a blur of intense and forceful movements, being gagged with gaffer tape while blindfolded, then tormented by a sadistic, faceless, mass murderer who had been experimenting on their victims for a very long time. Locked inside their torture chamber, it was up to us to work together as a team in order to escape and save ourselves from the hellish nightmare!

Abducted has the perfect introduction to the escape room – the theatricality of the “haunt” element is done perfectly for first timers to extreme haunts and flows wonderfully into the escape room itself; there’s one jump scare that almost made me drop to the floors which I really appreciated, but unfortunately once that character leaves the room, you’re very much on your own – there are ample opportunities for the serial killer to come back and torment you, or to have another character appear to add another few jump scares or to really add to the stress of the room, but it’s not necessary.

The puzzles themselves are linear, in the sense that to get to the next puzzle you must first solve the current puzzle, with the pieces of the puzzles scattered throughout – team work is utterly essential to even have a chance in here as some clues need at least three people working together.

The theming of the room feels like it’s taken inspiration from movies such as Saw, Hostel, and The Human Centipede given how grotesque, dark, and dilapidated the room feels, with plenty of the standard torture porn props scattered throughout.

 

Despite the fact we technically didn’t escape (we ran over by 2 minutes), we had an absolute whale of a time and really got immersed in the game from the moment we put our blindfolds on. If you like gory horror movies and being manhandled, or even if you just want to try an extreme haunt, I’d very much suggest Abducted as a go-to experience!

 

02/06/2018 – The Great Escape Game: Abducted

13/05/2018 – Room Escape Southend: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

Room Escape Southend return once more with another elaborate theme to add to their ever growing list of horror themed escape rooms, and this one is no different! Transported to an Egyptian dig, our task is to find someone who went missing during an excavation of an ancient tomb where an evil curse has been unleashed and it’s down to us to save the rest of the planet from the evil Mummy!

Once more, the team have done an outstanding job in turning their room from a haunted apartment into an Egyptian wonderland in a short space of time, and it’s obvious how much effort has gone into this room from the moment you enter; however, unlike all the other rooms they’ve done, there’s one huge change they’ve made here: there are no padlocks anywhere – everything is done automatically, which is a huge step forward for the room as every other room we’ve been to has mainly used padlocks. Not only have the padlocks gone but the games are vastly different, with each game feeling more like The Crystal Maze or Jungle Run than what the rooms have been in the past, which has helped make this room feel fresh.

The ante has also been raised with the number of “rooms” or sections in this – there are a number of areas that you need to visit in order to be able to escape the room with some clues and pieces for some of the puzzles appearing randomly throughout the game. Whilst it’s not as mentally challenging as some of the other rooms, the puzzles require a more logical and mechanical approach and require plenty of teamwork, communication, and a solid leader for the puzzles to come together in time – this sounds pretty straight forward, but given that there are moments where you will be isolated from the group potentially in pitch black, this becomes tougher and tougher to remember!

I honestly was not expecting this room from Southend Room Escape, but I’m thrilled with it – with so many changes made to the way the room works, it really felt like a brand new experience altogether!

13/05/2018 – Room Escape Southend: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

28/04/2018 – Ghoulies Haunted House: Ghoulies X

For the first time at Scareflix and Thrill, this review is a collaboration from James, Frankie, and Liam.

After learning about Ghoulies Haunted House from the recent SCAR award announcements, we decided to trek all the way up to Liverpool to experience Ghoulies X, an extreme haunt that features state-of-the-art animatronics, masks, costumes, live actors, and special effects – we simply couldn’t refuse the sound of this!

On the way to the attraction we soon began to question our nerves despite having done other extreme attractions in the past – we just couldn’t (and still can’t) figure out why we were so scared, but there was something about Ghoulies X and the Facebook advertisements that managed to rattle us to the point of considering a refund as we got closer and closer to the attraction, and our doom.

After some reassurance and peer pressure from everyone, we all gritted our teeth and signed the waiver. We stood in front of the famous Black Gate waiting to be let in, only to hear a gravelly voice yelling out to be fed from beyond. The gate opened and we all took in a deep breath before reluctantly stepping into the first corridor, which set out the haunt’s plot perfectly as we navigated our way through. We approached the red door – our door – and pause, grimacing to each other before I pushed the handle down and opened the door.

As soon as we enter through the door, the experience began: we instantly met two of the characters who had absolutely no issue invading our personal space and ensuring we’re as uncomfortable as we can be. After a rather brief introduction (most of which was missed by James as he was too busy being harassed by ghouls within the wall), we were selected and roughly moved from room to room, separated but still as a group to be tormented; the attraction was taken to the next level when the ghouls broke the fourth wall by addressing us all by name!

Soon enough, chaos broke out around us and we were soon screaming in shock and crying with laughter as we passed through what can only be described as an unnerving acid trip from hell: the actors engaged in strange conversations with us about famous murderers as Frankie was wearing a t-shirt from the Museum of Death in LA, all while Liam was being tormented by the dentist and I was being freaked out by the clown! The engagement with the characters is unmatched – we counted maybe 5 characters in total, though it definitely felt like a lot more than that as the actors were able to jump a scene in order to get ahead of us without us even noticing they had vanished!

After passing some really impressive animatronics that had us yelling loudly, we enter an extremely intense finale that had the safe phrase on everyone’s tongues. Soon enough, it finished: we were pointed toward a double door and climbed the staircase with the biggest grins on our faces, as we enter the Ghoulies bar, which is almost a haunt in its own right!

Ghoulies X is a missing valuable link in the extreme haunt industry: the sets are very basic, but it’s not the sets you’re really paying attention to: it’s the actors, all of whom use the right amount of aggression and force when interacting and moving you about. It’s clear that everyone involved in the attraction is passionate about horror and haunts as each character had their own personality and they all really played up to their character when we were in their scene while the other characters took a slightly more passive role. Alongside this, each dialogue felt absolutely genuine from all the characters and it felt like you were able to respond to questions and make comments and the like – James was (jokingly) offered candy floss and cocoa as he waited for his turn in the finale!

Ghoulies X is the most aggressively funny extreme haunt that assaults all your senses in many different ways, which will leave you screaming in both fear, laughter, and sometimes both! We dare you to take on the ghouls hiding in Ghoulies Haunted House!

We’d like to say a mega thanks to John, the creator and owner of Ghoulies Haunted House for coming out at the end of the night to chat with us – it was a pleasure to get to chat to you! We look forward to bumping into you again soon!

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28/04/2018 – Ghoulies Haunted House: Ghoulies X

28/04/2018 – Unescapable: Edith

Escape rooms are fast becoming a quick and easily accessible pass time in the UK, and with more and more escape rooms popping up the frequency of horror themed rooms are on the rise too! This time we’re at Unescapable’s horror themed room, Edith: after creating the first time portal, a scientist called Edith was sent through to scout what was on the other side and to make sure the portal was stable; unfortunately, Edith ever returned and all contact has been cut off – what is known is that she was trying to shut down the portal but met resistance… it was up to us to step up to the plate, shut down the portal, and hopefully not come into contact with whatever was stopping Edith (yeah no chance there!).

So now you know as much as we did when we first entered the room, it sounds ominous right? Needless to say, we were pretty nervous as we made our way through the time portal and into a decrepit, dimly-lit room beautifully decorated to fit in with the 1800s.  Electrical issues plagued us at inappropriate/appropriate moments depending on how you look at it, that left us in complete darkness at points which really didn’t help with basically everything we had to do. As we progressed through the games, things started to get creepier, especially the locked wardrobe in the corner…

After plenty of nervous laughter, jumping, screaming, flat out refusing to do certain things, and being forced to make unexpected decisions, we crawled back through the time portal and were welcomed back to 2018 by the scientist that helped us pass through!

Edith is an escape room like none I’ve done before: it not only requires players to be mentally alert, but also physically agile in order to survive (read as: hide) and make it out in one piece – much easier said than done when you’re constantly being hunted down by something that lurks in the shadows and watches your every move…

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Oh, and if you survive, find the Polaroid photo on the right hand wall with someone blacked out on it and ask for the story behind the picture.

 

28/04/2018 – Unescapable: Edith