Okay, so this is my first writing a review on the forums. I just want to say from the beginning, I have been to the event every year since 16. And while that isn't as much as a lot of people here, I have had ups and downs. Overall, the event felt different for me. I am not sure that I liked the different feel of the event, but others may like it. i personally want to go over the event as a whole; this means I will talk about houses, streets, advertisement, everything.
This year, I honestly felt a lack of scariness in the event. The popping scares have always been at HHN, but the mystery behind some of the houses just wasn't there. I feel this is because we had a strong commercialized event; not only does it destroy the mystery of the event, but it gives the event unreachable expectations. There will always be complaints about what was missing in Silent Hill and The Walking Dead just because we have seen the shows and played the games. I know i loved The Walking Dead, but the house missed out on a lot. Of course, this isn't to say that all commercialized events have been terrible in the past. The Wolfman house of 19 was really cool to me.
To me, mystery is so important to the event. I fear the unknown, not the expected. This is why i believe that half of the reason this year was just okay was due to advertisements and websites. Of course the media gets the word out for the event. But in years past, we were not spoon fed what the event was. We were left to forums and games on the websites to decipher codes about the event. This year, we were literally GIVEN the houses, and to top it off, there were pictures of scenes everywhere on the Facebook page. This kills half of the fun and scares. If you have preconceived notions on the event, you have set expectations on the event, and know what will be in it. To me, the advertisement was a complete failure in that it made the event feel like it had nothing more to give.
When you get to the park, the atmosphere is slightly set. The chain fences outside are pretty cool. I personally miss the jumbotron TV, but I can get over that. Getting tickets was relatively easy, since I went to the electronic Kiosk. The one problem I had was a lack of understanding from the staff about the Horror Unearthed Game. I asked many employees about where to get the card (I eventually found it) and more importantly where to SCAN the card. I was slightly irked that no one could tell me where to scan the cards; most employees didn't even know what I had in my hands. The other problem I had was the express pass. In years past, the express pass was a nice purchase. But this year, it backfired on many houses. Since I knew I would only be going to each house once, I used the express pass as often as the lines were long. I made the mistake of using the express pass on the Alice Cooper house, which had a 15 minute wait, and I was stuck in express lane for 30 minutes. I always ask for the opinions of employees about whether or not we should wait or take the Express. I ended up wasting a lot of time in the express lanes. The highest queue was 45 minutes this particular day, but waiting 20-30 minutes in line doesn't seem right, as i have waited 15 minutes in the past for an 80-90 minute queue. I am not sure if I will go for it next year, but we will see.
Now to the actual houses (I apologize in advance for the lengthy review of the event). I have to say, I was not too impressed with the houses this year. Some stood out as beautiful, but that does not make a completed HAUNTED house for me. I want to be scared as well.
This is the order I did the houses this weekend.
Silent Hill- At first I was impressed by the house's design, but now I can't even remember anything I saw except for the facade. It felt kind of repetitive in design. I was deeply saddened that I did not see a true nurse room in the house. It just seems like it would be something that would HAVE to happen. It's been done before (Dead Exposure 18). While I did enjoy Pyramid Head (Awesome job!) I did not really get any other scares because the resets of them were blatantly obvious without other scares going on. Also, I didn't hear the alarm. Overall, I thought this house was on the bottom of the list. Too monotonous. 3/10
The Walking Dead: Since I have watched every episode of the series, I was not pleased with this house at all. The scene changes were very abrupt and didn't convey the show very well. The scenes were more like a wannabe imitation. I feel as if Uni could have called this Zombies, and it would have worked. Minus the RV, which I thought was interesting, nothing scream TWD. I was impressed by the scares to an extent. Some resets were very well done. But, again, do my disappointment, I was getting hyped over a barn fire scene, and I didn't see it. I am not sure what happened, but all I saw was orange light behind planks of wood. That killed the house for me. I did enjoy the actors, and how the house transitioned to the street. But overall, the effect of the house didn't work.
Penn & Teller: Okay so this house is kind of fun. I liked the 3D effects. Typically I hate humor houses, but this one was pretty good. The interactivity of buttons and ropes was there, but it distracted me from the actual scenery. The Christmas light room was really my favorite part of the house. Overall, it was fun, but not too scary. Minus the lights and 3d of the house, it wasn't too memorable. I know i laughed though. 5/10
House of Horrors: We have had quickly made houses before, and we have had the strobe effect before. But honestly, I thought that this house was one of the best of the event. Yes, it wasn't "black and white" because of the neon blue feel. But I can get over that. If someone tells me that its supposed to be black and white, and I can see they tried it, I can feel it. This house was so interesting, and I got quite a few scares. The actors were great and I though placement was good too. For only a month, this house felt prepared. I also liked the crouched effect with the Mummy. Finale was pretty fun. Overall, good job with what you were given and kudos. 7/10
Alice Cooper: To sum this house up: mattresses. That is what I got out of it. Mattresses. The music was there, and so were the actors. I enjoyed some of the effects, but this house just didn't do it for me. It seems so disconnected in both story and set. i did get a few scares and appreciated the actors. In conclusion, I was just confused. I think I need to look over the house again to understand it more, so I can't blame the house entirely. 4/10
Gothic: in one hand I have to say this house was beautiful. On other hand, it wasn't too scary. Beauty isn't everything in a house, and this house was very much looks. It is possible to be scary and have looks. Winter's night did that for me last year. It irritated me to see some of the actors not really care about the house. For instance one of the gliders just went across the night scene completely still not flapping the wings, like it was asleep. I lost all immersion when I got there. The effect of being high in the cathedral was impressive, but something was still missing for me. There were some good actors and some bad. House was beautiful, but thats it. Even so, I enjoyed the fluidity of the house, minus the abrupt ending. Probably one of the better houses, but still needed scares. 7/10
Dead End: I was psyched about this house, and I think I had unreasonable expectations. And while the house didn't totally affect me, i know it was a timing issue. This house scared A LOT of people while I was in it. I loved the effects of the house, and a prop scared me. The house was really cool, and I loved the hints that the pictures gave about the house. I know the potential of this house was huge. The only complaint I had was there were almost too many video effects. The house relied heavily on effects that didn't feel tangible. Other times, it was really dependent on actors. i had trouble knowing how many actors are in the house. Overall though, this was my favorite house. 8/10
i was not excited about the streets. But I should have been. If the streets are done correctly they can be awesome! i was literally chased from MIB all the way to the main store in the front of the park by a group, and I know it was partially due to them relocating, but they chased my group. I swear 20 of them would not stop chasing us. I loved the intensity of the street actors, and I prefer them over the scare zones that I have seen in the past. Every group was unique. I have to admit I though female chainsaw prisoners was eh, but I loved them. Every group acted uniquely, and I appreciate that. The other thing is they really acted on the "nowhere is safe mentality." I saw them hide by bathrooms, in stores, in wait lines for rides . My favorite was the one vampire who hid in the bushes by the exit queue of AC and PT. Lastly, the streets were dark, and I Liked that. Fog and darkness worked well this year. Funny how when we don't have zones that deeply need fog that the effects work very well.
This is the first year I enjoyed streets more than houses, and I don't know why. It might have to be because the streets were mysterious to me. But I think everyone should give the streets a chance. The concept is good when it is done right.
Overall, this year was okay to me. I have seen better and worse days, though more were better. I feel that the event was too hyped and meant for the fans who were not too ingrained in the non-commercial HHN. I personally feel that originality makes things better if done correctly. I will neither encourage nor discourage the event, or the use of commercialized items. Anything can work, it is just the process of the event, and how it is handled that determines its success.