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Let's Define "Scary"

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Wanted to get a discussion going here concerning what people define as "scary" nowadays.


A big sum of people have been mentioning that this year is "off" and not "scary". What exactly does this mean? Please educate me on what the whole "not scary" comment means.  


IP houses are known for not being as "scary" as the originals due to people knowing the content they are going to see. Originals, however, people don't know what they are getting in to. That is, on their first walk through.


Is it that the event is getting less "scary" or is it, in my opinion, more of a conditioning of going to the event year after year? I was absolutely horrified my first year at Horror Nights because I had never gone before or been through a haunted house / walked through scare zones. Since then, I've gone four years in a row. Granted, the event is not nearly as "scary" as my first year, but that is merely due to the fact that I'm conditioned to know what to expect with the atmosphere of the park as well as what to expect inside a house / scare zone.  


The "scariest" moments at HHN are your first night visiting for the year. If you didn't see any spoilers / watch videos on walk throughs / etc., how can you not be somewhat afraid considering you don't know what Universal has conjured up inside? Maybe it's not "scary" to people anymore because they've walked through the gates of USF a million times for a replica of the event they go to every year, just with different costumes and themes.


Dead Exposure Patient Zero from HHN 28 was probably the scariest house I went through since I started going back in 2016. Now I'll preface this with saying the first time I went through, it was the scariest house I've gone through at HHN. After that first time, though, I knew exactly what was going to happen. How can people expect something to remain scary once they've done it before? I believe any walk through of a house has an unnerving feeling no matter how many times you go through it. I still find them scary no matter the amount of times I got through, I just am more keen to what is up ahead.


HHN houses / scare zones / horror movies in general are only as scary as that first jump scare you get. After that, if you go through / watch again, it won't get you or be as "scary". I'm sure everyone on this forum has seen the original Halloween. Watch it again and tell me it is just as scary as that original time you watched it. Obviously, that's not going to happen because you know what's going to occur.


On top of that, again, it has to do with conditioning. Going to the event year after year, you know how Universal works their haunted houses. Large sets, triggers with loud sounds accompanied by a jump scare, flashing lights, tight hallways, and the list goes on. They do different themes each year with completely different IP's and original content, but their system of how haunted houses and even scare zones are run remain pretty much the same. 


Go through Tomb of Ancients, Scarecrow, Dead Exposure, and then Nightingales. That can't be done of course since they all took place over different years but they share the similarity of being the "scariest" (this can be debated) house of their respective year. Why? They are located in the same exact tent year after year. This is the location Universal clearly goes in on attempting to make the "scariest" house. 


So what is it then? Is it the content that isn't scary to people? Is it that they are making the event too teen friendly? Or is it too much of the same thing and knowing what is coming around each corner? 


Please give examples of something you would find scary if HHN did in a house or street that you would find horrifying every single time you saw it.


Just trying to get a grasp on what the true reason people don't think the event is "scary" anymore. Sound off...

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"Scary" means a whole lot of things, depending on who is being asked.


To someone new to haunts, everything is scary, and by scary I mean they feel like they will chicken out at the last second or not make it through. My daughter experienced Scary the first time I took her to a haunt at 14.  Now she's 16 and not much scares her.


To haunt veterans like us, is there really anything scary anymore?  Or do we now go through the houses watching others' reactions to gauge scariness?  Or do we go through to see how they pulled off the magic?  I have done magic for a long time and am a member at the Magic Castle.  When I first got into it, and learned how much of it was done, the idea of "magic" was lost forever.  Instead it became watching to see how well moves were hidden.  It's a different degree of wonder, but I use that analogy as to why we still go to HHN today, even when it no longer scares us.


I don't really get "scared" anymore in haunts - even the "extreme" ones.

About the best I can hope for is startled, and that usually happens when my attention is diverted.

I think hands down, the "scariest" house this year is Graveyard Games, and I was startled in it each and every time.  The reason being is that the house has an much larger than normal number of scare options for actors - and they tend to use each and every one.   In 15 years of HHN I cannot recall so many boo holes crammed into one house.


The last time I was legit scared in a haunted house was around 2008 at Erebus in Pontiac, Michigan.  They had this one room that had a fantastic acrophobia effect.  

At least, this was the way I recall it...

The room is nearly pitch black.  You are walking along a dimly lit path on the floor.  Suddenly lights below the floor turn on to show a very long drop on either side of you.  The path ahead narrows to just a few inches wide.  Blowing fans helped to make you feel like you were balanced on a beam.

I came to a sudden stop when the lights turned on and I was convinced there was a drop on either side.  I mean, I knew there was no way it could be real - it was a mirror effect - but my mind was doing serious battles with my feet.  I think they even had various breaks in the path, urging you to jump from one to another.

I bet the actual room was not much like how I remembered it, but I bet many of the "scary things" we remember from houses did not actually happen the way we recall.


The In-Between at HHN 21 had a similar effect in the "Christmas Light Room", where they simply had a mirrored walkway and a sanded "path" you walk on.  I got a similar sense of vertigo in that one.

But that's me.  I don't think I'm afraid of heights, but put me on a ledge and I will have a problem.  Clowns, monsters, noises, etc.  Doesn't phase me. 


Concerning IP vs Original, if an IP scared the hell out of you as a kid, then a house will have a great chance of scaring you.  But an original will be an unknown quantity to all, and history has shown that the scariest houses are almost always originals.  To me, Poltergeist was GOAT because that clown in the movie scared me as a kid.  But A&D took that clown - that had a screen time of under a minute - and turned it into the last 1/3 of the house.  They were able to tear the scab off so many scary memories and make them fresh.  It was essentially an Original wearing an IP mask.  That's the way all IP houses houses should be.




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I do think it would have served them well to save the appearance of the monster for the finale (and I wish the waterfall effect had worked), but once again the subject matter of Depths scares me very, very much. I squirm just thinking about the eel coming down from the ceiling. Short, narrow hallways with tight turns combined with the countdown created panic. And yeah, Helix crying was so chilling.

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