Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nyctophobia 2014 (Review)

The first question in Nyctophobia's FAQ is: What is Nyctophobia? The answer they provide: Correct. Well that's just vague and odd. Some clarity would help I think.

But that's the beauty of Nyctophobia. You're not going to get a straight answer. What you experience is a mystery hidden in another mystery. It's a journey that's both visceral and immersive that its hard to even explain after you've gone through it. And you know what else it is?

It's fuckin awesome.

Nyctophobia is the equivalent of entering a living, breathing dream world that has you falling through the proverbial paranormal rabbit hole. You'll wake up in darkness, see flashes of mysterious figures, push the story driven arc by talking to some oddball characters, glimpse feint images of yourself and others and then you'll have to answer questions that border on the real or surreal. Nyctophobia 2014 is a remarkable experience that takes fringe theater into a whole new level.

Set in the middle of Nowhere, Long Island part of the charm of Nyctophobia is it still feels like an underground experience, only receiving the secret location the day of. The adventure begins as you drive out where GPS devices usually fail. The waiting is part of the fun of it (if you like waiting).

Entering in pairs but then separated, you'll think you've spent over an hour at Nyctophobia though it only lasts 20 or so minutes. Once in, you start to realize as I did last year, this is NOT a haunted house. It's not a scary or hardcore BOO! place but one that has you fully immerse yourself in a short novella filled with much weirdness and an interconnected story.

You truly transform into the central character and the actors will react accordingly. You can respond to all the dialogue and you'll get replies that are unique to you. What Eric Striffler has done this year is a sight to behold in that he takes a minimalist approach to maximize the spooky, the creepy and the WTF.

I will admit, I had to talk to my friends and Eric himself to fully comprehend the residual plot that was being echoed. Simple items, conversation are all interconnected if you watch out for them. As much as I think I'm smart to get the easter eggs, I wish they just told me what these were. A scene that plays out in the middle with some Q&A seemed out of place (I'm not sure how it fit in) though the ending will have you probably not looking your best. With any sort of interactive theater, interactivity is key and the more decisions and actions the participant can do only enhances the experience.

But it's slow, methodical approach is what separates Nyctophobia apart from any haunt. Parts of Nyctophobia are cohesive and have you filled with dread of what's to come. A simple walk without sight had me on edge. Even the simple act of sitting down gave a sense of vulnerability as characters would get up close and personal. As you move along, they'll remove senses like sight and hearing and emphasize touch and taste. It's a mental tug o war.

The performances by the actors are top notch, from the mute silents to the quirky serious. They seem to make sure you're in the moment and personalize what is a very tight knit structured walk through. Nyctophobia also uses their space to create different levels of eerie. You really don't know what could happen next.

My first encounter with Nyctophobia was last year was something I didn't expect. It was like a Last of Us scavenger hunt. This year, I really thought I'd be experiencing something along those lines but I was dead wrong.  The most simplistic analogy would be to say is it's an interactive holodeck of The Others. But really it's much more.

So what is Nyctophobia?


Was that too vague?

The Vitals

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  1. are you ever going to write another top horror movies list, ever?

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