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!

 

 

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01/09/2018 – R Space Productions: DEATHCELL

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 – 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

31/03/2018 – Nightmare Asylum

So the haunt scene is slowly coming out of hibernation, and my friends and I were feeling really antsy to get our asses to a haunt ASAP and get our fix of scares! After spending a long time hunting for something, we stumbled across Nightmare Asylum in Nottingham: a haunt that’s only been open for a few days. We reserved our tickets the night before (30th) and continued on with out night.

The next day, we trek from Birmingham to Nottingham all hoping that Nightmare Asylum would be worth it whilst also thinking it was odd that we only reserved a ticket and didn’t actually pay for them, and we began to wonder if it was legit. We arrive outside a warehouse that looks like it could have been a small car repair shop at some point with a banner hanging above the shutters reading “Nightmare Asylum” – at least if this wasn’t legit, they spent a little bit on our demise…

We ring the number on the Facebook page and tell the receiver that we’re here – a few seconds later, a man steps out from the side of a building and beckons us in through the security fence and into a sizeable room with a kitchen in the corner; thinking this is part of the escape room (hold that thought…) I instantly start scanning the bare room for any signs of clues… nothing: turns out, it was just a break room.

We’re handed waivers and, in our naivety we blindly signed them (I haven’t learned from other times I’ve been handed waivers…), and we’re then given the basic run down on how the haunt works. The haunt itself is a peculiar blend of escape room, haunt, and maze all rolled into one: you’ll come across padlocks that need keys or codes to open them and you’ll have to find your way around the haunt blind, all while being tormented by invisible actors.

We’re taken back into the corridor connecting the entrance to the kitchen and our hostess pulls back an unassuming white curtain we must have ignored as we walked in, to reveal a stairwell covered in bloodstains and threats that lead up to a closed door. We’re handed a torch and we sheepishly climb up the stairs before opening the door and walking into the gloomy room in front of us; as we enter the room, the door behind us slams shut with a loud bang and we all scream. This, I’m afraid/amused to say, is very much how the rest of the experience went for us…

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Without giving too much away, but Nightmare Asylum is almost what it says on the tin: yes, it was an absolute nightmare and had us saying “I don’t like this” and pushing each other to be the first through the room whereas we’d usually be fighting to be at the front; however, there wasn’t anything themed around what I’d consider an Asylum – hell, there didn’t seem to be any theme or story behind it at all: it was very disjointed and almost like a horror movie game, but this really, really worked well and actually made it feel like it lasted a lot longer than it actually did (great once we got out, but not so great when we were in there).

The haunt is so strange I’m actually struggling to write this part of the review!

The actors know the haunt like the back of their hand, and you’ll know why I put that when you go. It’s a full contact haunt and you are grabbed and pulled at mercilessly throughout which, when combined with the situation you’re in, quickly becomes stressful and spooky (in the right way).

The only criticism I have is that some of the sounds didn’t properly sync up with what we were doing – I’m not entirely sure whether the audio is triggered manually or not, but a sensor or something that monitors the object the sound is meant to sync up to would definitely be a vast improvement. Usually I like seeing the sets a little more, but for some reason the way Nightmare Asylum is done currently, you really don’t need much light at all.

I have no idea why we were so scared throughout – looking back there’s nothing groundbreaking or mindblowing, but for some reason the “less is more” mantra really worked well for Nightmare Asylum, and with the team behind it, I really hope they’ll be scaring us for many years to come!

 

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31/03/2018 – Nightmare Asylum

13/01/2018 – Room Escape Southend: Apartment 666

Three weeks after getting spooked silly by a zombie Santa, Room Escape Southend had completely gutted their winter wonderland theming along with the cabin that’s been stood for the last two iterations of their room escapes, and has been replaced with an ultra modern flat: Apartment 666.

This has to be the toughest room that Room Escape Southend have put on with puzzles being rather complex and spread out across the apartment, which is only made harder as portals between the two dimensions open…

I’ve deliberately left this short and sweet as it’s only in its second day (at time of writing) and I really don’t want to give too much away, but the Room Escape Southend team have really worked their arses off to bring you what is an intense and testing escape room that’ll leave you screaming and ducking for cover as you work your way out of the room!

 

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13/01/2018 – Room Escape Southend: Apartment 666

22/12/2017 – Room Escape Southend: A Zombie Christmas

Southend Room Escape feature very prominently in my reviews: since my first visit to them for Down The Rabbit Hole over 6 months ago, they’ve change their escape room theme an incredible three times, with this visit being their fourth – it really is amazing how quickly they produce and create brand new worlds for guests to explore and inevitably get scared!

Donning Christmas cracker hats and sitting round the family dinner table in a winter wonderland, we’re told that Santa has come over with an illness which has changed his taste buds drastically (unfortunately for us), and that the chain that ties him to the spot will extend every so often, meaning there’s no place to hide: fortunately, singing Christmas songs seems to put him in a daze, meaning we are able to distract him for short periods of time. It was down to Ash (of Hide & Shriek), Michael Bolton (of ScareTour), Liam, and myself to solve the clues and save Christmas forever! Quite a scary precedent given how close to Christmas it was!
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The timer begins and we instantly pick up on a number of puzzles dotted around the room: we instantly gather all the clues we can get our mitts on and gather them on the table, completely wary of the zombie Santa sat barely 2 feet way from us in the corner.

What happened over the next hour or so was a mixture of confusion, yelling, plenty of singing, and eventually managing to solve the clues in order to save Christmas and escape!

Rather cleverly, the team had recycled the shack and most of the scenery from The Cabin, which, when coupled with the changes to the “outside” area, really made the escape room give off a Christmassy vibe – we had the cracker hats, all we needed were the corny Christmas jumpers!

The puzzles themselves were rather tough (despite what Bolton says in his review) even though we had all seen the same padlocks a number of times in their other rooms, there were a number of new and impressive puzzles, with a number of the puzzles requiring one of us to sneak past Santa whilst the rest deafened him with our tone deaf renditions of Jingle Bells over and over and over: the final puzzle with the baubles was by far my favourite puzzle, but then again I really enjoy intricate puzzles that require technology.

Even though this was easily their least scary escape room so far, it was still intense and riddled with moments of panic as we tried to avoid the evil Santa, and it was definitely an absolute blast! Once again, Room Escape Southend delivered another fantastic attraction with A Zombie Christmas, and I really cannot wait to get back down to Southend for Apartment 666!

22/12/2017 – Room Escape Southend: A Zombie Christmas