“ALONE: AN EXISTENTIAL HAUNTING” (Haunt Review)Books/Art/Culture,News Camilla Jackson
While haunted house attractions are normally bound to the Halloween season, there has been a surge in permanent haunts that give horror junkies their thrills all year round. They can range from the gentler ‘PG Family Haunt’ to the extreme psychological haunt with the capacity to send one into therapy. Yet he common theme among the majority of the haunts is that you go through a darkened maze and, when you least expect it, a monster/ghoul/zombie/vampire etc. will jump out and frighten the lights out of you; in essence, it’s good, clean fun. However if you dig a little deeper, you will find organizations that take things to another level, and the Los Angeles-based ALONE: AN EXISTENTIAL HAUNTING falls into that category.
Usually in a review, I would write a blow-by-blow summary of the event in question. For ALONE… I am not going to do this. Firstly, out of respect to the creators Lawrence Lewis and Devon Paulson, I would not want to give too much away. Secondly, as the title suggests, this is truly a personal experience, and having discussions with other brave souls afterwards further confirmed this.
The haunt took place at an undisclosed location that was given to me the day before the event. Upon arrival, it had me wondering if I was in the right place. No fancy zombies running around here, just a typical seedy Downtown alleyway that had me in fear of being mugged. Two clinically dressed cult members thrust a waiver into my hands and demanded it be signed. With great trepidation, I signed said waiver, shaking on the inside and wondering why I would want to do something that could possibly lead to my demise. After sitting in the creepy alleyway for a while, I was surprised when my name was called out. This experience really was very customized!
Four other brave comrades accompanied me as we were lined up and ushered inside an abandoned looking warehouse. This was where we were given our “Safe” word. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel like backing out at this point. My heart was pounding with a combination of fear and excitement as we were marched into a rickety service elevator, and greeted at the top by another clinically dressed staff member who made us fill out a survey, which was so strange!
After completing the paperwork, we found ourselves participating in some sort of peculiar yoga class led by a mystical yogi type. At this point, I was thinking that maybe I didn’t need to be frightened, but of course, I was wrong. Before I knew it a bag was thrown over my head and the real fun began. And although the evening started out in a group of five, I can assure you that you do in fact go through this experience entirely alone.
The evening had me feeling a mixed gamut of emotions. Sometimes it was fear, sometimes confusion. Other times I felt uninhibited, amused and strangely enough, there were occasions where there was a sensuality that would not usually be associated with this sort of thing. The addition of performers being allowed to touch guests can sound a little extreme to some, but having experienced the haunt myself I believe it is one of the beneficial factors in what makes this such a winner. There were certain times during the evening that I was led to believe that the haunt was over, only to discover that it was all a trick; even the security guards were in on it!
This particular haunt has shunned fancy special effects, but rather has created illusions with darkness, light, shape and sound, a true testament into what doing extensive research into the human psyche and emotions can do without all of the bells and whistles. The experience was so well executed, that still days later I was suspicious of passers by on the street, wary that I may still actually be in the experience.
The closest way to explain it would be to say to watch David Fincher’s THE GAME. This haunt was very similar to the adventure that Michael Douglas was presented with, all the way up to the personalized survey you’re forced to take. Lewis and Paulson’s backgrounds in film, sound and fine art has helped shape the ALONE experience into what it is, and they would ultimately love to grow the ALONE experience into a realm of artistic possibilities, not just haunts. I am eager with anticipation to see their future endeavors come to fruition, and will gladly sign my life away again for whatever their warped minds conjure up next.
L.A. based horror fans can experience ALONE for themselves by checking out their official website.