Monday, February 11, 2013

Blackout Haunted House Testimonials Part 3: Off Season NYC Winter Haunt (2013)

For Part 3, I have treat for you. Survivor "Wrapped in Plastic" discusses HER thoughts about the infamous off season Winter experience. Men and Women alike attended this haunt and it left a crater sized mind fuck in our heads.

Seriously, the shit we did for this goddamn free t-shirt was insane.

Before I post my own review of Blackout Haunted House's NYC Off Season Winter Haunt, I believe it's necessary you get different perspectives of the others who attended well. Collected below and in the upcoming days are reviews and testimonials of some of the brave "Survivors" who dared to go where only a few decided to tread. You'll hear from men and women who decided to attain glorious bragging rights to the horror interactive theater production that is Blackout. Some are hardcore veterans while others are semi new. But all are bizarrely addicted to the adrenaline rush of being the protagonist of their own horror movie.

Check back at midnight over the next few weeks as you hear from the brave souls who survived.


For the first time in four events, I left Blackout laughing. Granted, it was a wild-eyed, shell-shocked, half-hysterical kind of laughter, but the experience left me giddy. Over the span of 45 (sometimes too-long, sometimes too-short) minutes, I had faced up to my greatest fears, performed in acts that left me tearful and delighted, and left trembling and transcendent from the heady rush of adrenaline that Blackout produces so well.

More so than in the past, a clearly defined narrative dictates the overall structure of this show. This is the first time I've felt Blackout move definitively past the realm of walk-through haunted house and into being an act of immersive psychological theater. There's no doubt that this is a play, but a play unlike any you've ever seen before, made that much more effective by your involvement as the ostensible protagonist of the story. The caliber of performances and aesthetics of the set design are on par with any traditional staged play I've seen and certain themes echo throughout that remind you that this is still theatre, only evolved. 

The rooms are almost elegant in their simplicity. Even those that you immediately recognize as places of horror are carefully arranged so as to frame you and the actors in such a way that you can't forget that You Are Here and that you are a part of this and that really, you only have yourself to blame for it. The actors move as wolves around you, the sacrificial lamb cut off from your flock, always with a reservation of energy and an underlying threat of violence liable to explode at any moment. And it will. And it does.

These images, yellowed flashbulb snaps of me and them and us together and even rooms of no one at all, are still as vivid to me as though they'd just occurred - mental Polaroids that cut through the rush of adrenaline that is at times deafening. In the past the constant movement through the scenes tended to make everything that happens to you a blur in recollection, but the stayed hand you see exercising careful control over each moment creates an experience that will lingers vivid long after the emotion settles out.

Subtlety is a key word. By comparison, Blackout's Halloween events are a 30-minute long roller-coaster ride in which you're jerked from one startling encounter to the next. This time, however, the limited number of scenes and increased length of performance this time gives ample room to settle into the moment.

Considering I'd spent the previous several days in an increasingly panicked build-up to the event, being left with my own thoughts is a devious way to let my imagination get the best of me. The mind fills in the blanks that are left, and when you're already familiar with the experiences that Blackout can deliver, those blanks aren't going to be filled with warm fuzzies. At one point I became so wrapped up in my own paranoid delusions that I started to physically tremble, shaking uncontrollably under the weight of my own anticipation. The scene in question involved no one but myself.

But don't let any of this reserve lull you into a sense of security - it's only the deafening, dreadful quiet that comes between cracks of thunder. This is the most confrontational Blackout that I've experienced. Certainly Spring 2012 was challenging (who's comfortable getting naked in front of strangers? me, apparently) but the psychological games that this performance plays go far deeper. As a pervasive theme that amplified in Halloween 2012, Blackout continues to toe a very fine line between sexuality and violence. They push their own boundaries to create scenarios that all at once repulse and arouse, horrify and titillate. The scenes are visceral blows, senses assaulted by a barrage of smells, sights, touches, and sounds that shake you out of your day-to-day mind and pull you deep into the experience. Your body responds without your mind being able to catch up as each sense is overwhelmed in turn.

And if you think you're unafraid of anything, give it time. Blackout will find what disturbs you, and there's nothing quite like when they find what sets off those reptile-brain reactions and you forget all rationality. You will know that they know when they've found it, and that's almost as scary as actually experiencing it. It's through this give-and-take that personally, I've realized that maybe my greatest fear (when forced to either face it or quit outright) maybe isn't my greatest fear anymore, and though I couldn't call that experience pleasant, it's a bit of a revelation to realize how much Blackout has shaped my reactions to things that frighten me. Old fears seem less scary when you've survived them, but new ones emerge to take their place when you experience them for the first time.

When I fled from the location, I ran into another Survivor who came to meet me. She asked me what thought and the first thing I shouted, laughing, was "It was beautiful." Blackout has outdone themselves. Their voice has been evolving since this all began, and this time, I feel like they've nailed it. The lingering tones of faith and fanaticism, sex and violence, beauty and filth have never been as clear as they were this time around, from the looking-glass opening until the final shocking end. They've raised the bar not only for their eager audience but for themselves as well. I'm proud beyond description to witness this evolution and to be a part of Blackout. And after being so changed by these experiences, I'm even more proud that Blackout has become a part of me.

-Wrapped in Plastic

Were you one of the lucky Survivors? Want to share your thoughts to the world. Facebook or tweet me your review (no spoilers please).


Blackout Haunted House NYC 2013 Off Season Haunt Testimonials

Blackout Haunted House Reviews and Walkthroughs
Blackout Haunted House Invite Only, Off Season Spring Haunt Reviews and Walkthroughs
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1 comment:

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