Monday, October 13, 2014

Blackout Haunted House: 2014 House (Review)

Let's talk horror remakes OK?

Some people love horror remakes, some don't. Some people fall somewhere in the middle. I'm one of those people who falls in the middle. I loved the Evil Dead and The Ring remake, others hated it. I hated the Friday the 13th and the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, some didn't. You're also going to get some horror remakes that were just good but not great. Maniac comes to mind. Horror remakes can divide horror audiences like no other.

This is exactly how I feel about this years version of Blackout Haunted House: Blackout: House. It falls somewhere in the middle. It's still got a bit of the old that I absolutely love and it's got a bit of the new.  Every year Blackout remakes itself and creates a new version venting brilliant scenes of the uncomfortable, the weird and the WTF. But this year, you'll notice that some things are missing from previous haunts.

Gone is the walking alone aspect; now replaced with groups.
Gone is the old abandoned storefronts and random buildings in the middle of nowhere. This is now replaced with a former dance club that seems to have been recently shut down.
Gone is the physical and elevated extreme nature of Blackout replaced with a psychological and more fringe theater feel.

Sure some previous years aspects are residually there, but any past reviews or walkthroughs you've read by me should be disregarded at this year haunt, just like last year themed Elements haunt, this is a new year, a new theme.

This is a  Blackout that you will either love, hate or feel something in between. You'll need to judge for yourself.

Blackout: house is a visceral interactive experience, where you'll encounter uncomfortable scenes set up for you to solve, the unseen horrors done to others and some role playing that tests your determination. In the midst of this is your group, now paramount to the experience. In a new twist, if two people in your group SAFETY, your entire group is escorted out (as mentioned in the creators AMA). Now you'll need to rely on friends and/or strangers to survive. This can either be good or bad but it actually had me terrified that a stranger could end my own experience.

This years haunt seems longer (could it really have been more than 30 min?, I'm not actually sure) than previous ones. The cult like figures return as Blackout employs a world where they are the guards in this Stanford experiment gone awry.  There is a bit of waiting before the haunt begins. But when it does, it throws you in ready or not.

Each scene is crafted for maximum WTF. Blackout virgins may be unprepared for the assault on their senses. Scenes play out and you'll need to get on board quickly with the subtle directed action ques you'll need to do to move on. Savvy veterans will easily work out what needs to be done and get that shit done. Each room you head into will have you interacting with the actors and the things in it. As this is a group thing, some people will get more attention than others. I think the actors were picking on the noobs to give them something a bit extra.

As you go along, the group will have to work together to move around and each member will be chosen for a special moment. Mine was an encounter with a lovely young actress who gave me something that tested my revulsion. I totally did it without any problems because I'm the motherfuckin jaded viewer.

The final scene plays out with everybody in your group in some sort of odd and crazy situation and here I found myself telling my fellow survivor not to SAFETY and to just do whatever instructions she was told. I followed my orders to a tee as did my entire group. After the experience, I sincerely apologized to that person in my group. She was a stranger after all and what I had to do to her was bizarrely not normal. Yes you will need to probably apologize to strangers.

My initial reaction after experiencing Blackout: house was one of confusion. I didn't know what to think. It took me a few days to digest the experience and as I replayed scenes in my head I thought of what Blackout was trying to accomplish. The group dynamic had me initially fearful that somebody would safety but as it went on, I knew the people I was with wouldn't SAFETY, they decided it was not an option. You're going to have to trust your group, that's something scary in itself. I've been use to having my own personal Blackout experience, you sometimes start comparing the past with the present. I disliked sharing and wanted it all about me.

After thinking about it, each haunt should be judged on its own merits. This years version is all about teamwork within a group of friends or strangers where the scenes are designed for you to work together for a common goal. It should be judged with all its nuances and ways this can be fun as well. Some will either dislike this and say Blackout has left what made it so memorable, the you versus Blackout, one on one experience. Others may say this opens up Blackout into a whole new way of experiencing their haunt.  I thought the group thing would have made me to do things in front of people I would regret or be embarrassed about but that wasn't the case.  I for one miss the alone experience, but I can see the merits of opening it up to groups. Again, this is for each person to decide.

I've been reading the other reviews and talked to other veterans who've experienced this 2014 haunt. The initial consensus seems to be it's less extreme this year and has more general scenes of David Lynch-ian weirdness. There also seemed to be less touching for a haunted house built on the fact they are suppose to touch you. What you get is more of the psychological and what your willing to do to get through it. I can't believe I'm writing these words, but Blackout: house is not as scary as you think it is this year.

I am sure for newcomers, they will get a thrill from all the weird shit that happens. For many, this is Blackout boot camp and they'll be seeing shit they've never seen or experienced before. Blackout has always amped up their performance as the season went on. I went on opening night where press and a few hardcorers were first to attend so maybe what I experienced will be different compared to somebody going on Halloween. I hope they get back to some "old school shit" and make alpha males and sorority girls SAFETY along the way.

Blackout is still the king of permanently embedding raw emotions and vivid memories in their haunts. It sparks a conversation like no other haunt in America. To try Blackout is to test your limits, to go to that Rope Swingers level I've written about before.  If there is a time to see if you can make it through, this is the year.

Blackout has been remade. Good or bad it has to be experienced to be believed. You have to give credit to creators Josh Randall and Kris Thorgeirsson for always reinventing Blackout every year, experimenting with new challenges and changing the rules to make it different. It's a testament to them they have not just done the same thing year in, year out.

As much as change is inevitable, it doesn't mean I have to like it. With Blackout: house you have some old and some new and a remake that Blackout survivors will be divided on. You will be saying WHAT THE FUCK?!?! and this year it will have two different meanings.

Which one will it be?

 The Vitals

Blackout Haunted House Reviews and Walkthroughs
Blackout Haunted House Invite Only, Off Season Winter/Spring Haunt Reviews and Walkthroughs
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  1. Will you go back for the Sunday solo walkthrough that Blackout just announced?

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