13/10/2017 – Farmageddon

Farmageddon has a lot of reputation behind it, that’s undeniable: I really wanted to add it to my lineup last year, however as many people know, their tickets sell out phenomenally fast and I missed out on the opportunity. Being more clued up this year, and with a gentle nudge from a friend, we got tickets and I finally had the opportunity to get to one of the most famous scream parks in the country!

We finally got to Farmageddon at 9pm, after driving roughly 4 hours from south London and hitting a hell of a lot of traffic which caused all of us to panic, as we really wanted to see all the haunts but were afraid that it wouldn’t be possible in the 90 minutes we had. Sounds like a bad intro, right? Well, we thought it was too.

After getting our wristband and entering the park, the atmosphere hit: loud metal tracks blasted its way through the air, sound effects were going off everywhere, clever visuals projected/playing on walls and the like, and everyone was just absolutely buzzing as actors roamed about, getting scares here and there from the unsuspecting victims.

After panicking and deciding that we could forfeit the Zombie Paintball experience, we jumped into the massive queue for Terror on the Farm, a 20 minute attraction through multiple different sets that lacked a story, but where it lacked in story it really made up for it in set pieces – there were huge animatronics, live actors very cleverly hidden in with props and other set pieces, and special effects that we really weren’t expecting! The queue itself looked horrendously long, but the queue seems to constantly move, meaning that you’re only queuing for maybe 20 minutes at most; we started getting a bit nervous because a quick moving queue means that large groups are being pushed through as quickly as possible, and from previous experiences, that generally means you’ll also be queuing to get out: not the case here. Group sizes are exceptionally small (we went through as a three) and are batched quickly: taking it at a casual pace, we never bumped into the group in front, which is an absolute miracle! The scares themselves were all jump scares, but the actors and effects were so on cue that they even got me to jump and shout a few times! Honestly a very impressive haunt that left me shaking a bit!

 

Our next haunt of choice was The Meat Locker. We joined the queue (which also looked horrendous) but as we navigated the cage maze that makes up the queue, we discovered that in fact there were multiple queues and the one we were sent down only had a 10 minute wait at most – score! This one had more of a dedicated theme – Saw meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre but with a slightly sci-fi twist. The door in front of us automatically opens and we’re ushered inside with another small group (no more than 6 or 7 of us in total); the door closes behind us and a sound clip explaining the loose story plays as the room fills with smoke and the lights go out. We’re ushered out of the room and end up in corridor after corridor of what can only be described as a goreno fantatic’s wet dream: bodies and limbs lie all over the place, blood splatters line the walls, and props are dotted all over the place. As with Terror on the Farm, the scares here are mostly jump scares though some of the actors like to creep about or hide in plain sight before getting you. The whole haunt you’re left to wonder where the next scare will come from and just when you think you know, the scare comes from a completely unexpected place! Props and live actors work in harmony to ensure that you get at least one scare. To say it’s intense would be an understatement, as I caught myself using my jacket to hide behind as I led the group through the attraction! I absolutely¬†loved this haunt from start to end, though I was definitely glad to catch my breath after being chased away!

 

Our final haunt for the night is Contagion 3D – a name that really doesn’t fit the theme. Over the last two years, I’ve done plenty of 3D haunts and the 3D effect more or less works for most, but Farmageddon has really nailed it on the head – 3D paintings line the walls, ceilings, floors, props, actors… absolutely everywhere, making it almost impossible to discern a prop from a painting on the wall or from an actor, and the scares well and truly play on this deception and disorientation to create some truly surprising jumps that seemingly come from nowhere! I won’t lie, I felt like I was taking in the 3D effects far too much for the actors to actually scare me, but the amount of detail that went into making this haunt work is impeccable! The zigzag slope after the vortex tunnel really made it feel like we were in a twisted funhouse, and the dubstep track that was playing really added to this effect (if anyone knows what it is, drop me a line!), but what was by far the most impressive was the fact that as soon as you said a name in there, the actors instantly picked it up and passed it onto the actors in the following scene – Amber from Parks, Scares and Glitter got absolutely tortured by actors, which was the funniest thing for us to watch! The finale in this attraction was also incredibly strong, and made me high tail it out of there as quickly as I could whilst still trying to retain my coolness (ha!).

 

The thing with Farmageddon’s haunts is that they really know what they’re doing with their make up: there were points during the haunt I was convinced a prop was an actor and vice versa, only to be surprised when an actor jumped out from elsewhere! Not only does the actors’ make up match the props design, but the actors and props work in harmony – an actor might jump out at you quickly followed by a huge set piece or special effect triggering, meaning you’re completely bombarded with scares as you make your way through! I had so much trouble trying to predict the scares that I actually gave up and just started wandering round suspecting absolutely everything, and not even that prepared me for some of the scares!

 

Wow, what can I say? All three of the haunts were absolutely incredible in their own right: intense, detailed, and incredibly jumpy! I thought that I’d be able to give criticism easily, as there was a lot of loud music playing right outside the haunts themselves and I was readying myself for sound bleed from outside, but I don’t remember picking up on any noises coming in from outside! I can honestly say that the only criticism is that we turned up later than anticipated and didn’t get the “full” experience of just wandering around and taking it in, but from what I got to experience outside the haunts, I was just as impressed with – never did I think I’d see a queue of adults cutting shapes loose and fast to a clubland cover of Eiffel 65’s Blue as a guy dressed in a similar fashion to Frank n Furter dropping it like it’s hot in 6in heels! Tickets have sold out as of today, so if you missed it this year I suggest getting in early next year! Definitely the surprise of the tour!

 

13/10/2017 – Farmageddon

14/07/2017 – Southend Room Escape: The Cabin (Preview Night)

After the roaring success of its predecessor (Down the Rabbit Hole) and with a SCAR Award under their belt, the team at Southend Room Escape quickly began boasting about their brand new addition to the growing list of horror themed escape rooms: The Cabin. We were invited to a preview night to give the room a test run, and I’ve still not entirely decided who was tested more: us, the actors, or the room!

Inspired by the legend of the Blair Witch, participants enter a long forgotten cabin hidden deep in the woods where a number of people had been vanishing, and it’s down to the participants to solve the clues and save the kids from their impending doom!

From the moment we stepped into the building, it was clear to see why they needed two weeks to redecorate! The scenery was absolutely incredible and as soon as the front door opened, it was easy to believe that we were in an old abandoned lodge. A dead radio in the corner fizzled to life and explained the rules, and we left the starting line… albeit very slowly.

We spent the next hour sweating over the most easiest of easy riddles, trying (and succeeding!) to hack locks and clues (much to our detriment…), and even trying to appeal to the actors soft side in order to get a hint on how to solve the clues (you really need to have your thinking cap on for some of these), and screaming as we’re attacked by a benevolent force as the claustrophobic cabin and intense darkness were used against us.

Once again, the team at Southend Room Escape weaved their magic and bought their universe to life in their little pocket of Southend. This is truly not for the feint of heart, and really does require everyone in the team to be able to cope under stress. We will definitely be back later on in the season to see the full show (clues were being changed after we left, so don’t ask us for clues!) and to see if we can best our time!

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14/07/2017 – Southend Room Escape: The Cabin (Preview Night)