When it was announced last year that Larry and Cheryl Bones, of Bone Yards Effects, were going to be creating their own haunt, titled INTO THE BLACK, I was ecstatic. Having been familiar with their work from Halloween Horror Nights – Hollywood, I could only imagine what they would be capable of creating with limitless restrictions. Though INTO THE BLACK would prove to be a bit too advantageous for their first haunt, the Bones still managed to put together an experience that was unlike any other haunt in the area.
INTO THE BLACK, which takes place in the late 1800s, tells the story of the Black family, who have a penchant for dabbling in the occult as well as some Devil worshipping. What sets this haunt apart from its contemporaries is that it’s broken up into four parts: A short film, a VR experience, a Haunt experience, and a documentary. For this review, I will go through each portion as I experienced them, starting back in July at Midsummer Scream.
My first step into the world of INTO THE BLACK led me to Midsummer Scream in July 2017. Larry Bones, and some of the actors involved in INTO THE BLACK, where there to talk about their haunt and it’s creation as well as give guests a chance to view the film and documentary attached to the haunt. The film focused on a paranormal team who were determined to find the infamous Black house, located deep within the woods. My only critiques towards the film was I felt like the acting could have been a little bit better and that the film could have been a bit more smoothed over. There were moments that seemed to drag on for much longer than necessary, especially when our ghost hunters were in the woods. With that said, the set design and production quality were top notch. You could really see where Larry Bones and his team shine, and it’s through the creation of the Black house, both figuratively and literally. I did think seeing the film prior to going to the haunt was an added bonus because it made me really curious as to what I would experience once I had the opportunity to go through the haunt.
After the short film, guests were then shown a documentary that went into the making of INTO THE BLACK. As a designer by trade, I was really fascinated on the ins and outs that go into creating such a detailed event. Viewers got the opportunity to see everything from beginning to end, which included the set build, the costume and makeup fx, the filming of the short, and more. It was extremely apparent that those who were a part of INTO THE BLACK put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this production and had an immense passion for the haunt community. I thought this documentary was a wonderful addition to the overall experience as it shows viewers all the hard work and dedication that goes into making these beloved haunts.
Now let’s fast forward to October. INTO THE BLACK has opened, and I found myself chomping at the bit to go through the next two stages: the VR experience and the haunt. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest proponent of VR, I have yet to do one that really blows me away, but I will say that INTO THE BLACK did a good job of conveying the next chapter of their story through the use of VR. During this experience, we are transported back to 1866 where we get to witness the horrors that encompass the Black family. Having done another event where the VR was shoddy, I appreciated how seamless this one was. I also liked that we were going on this terrifying adventure with the young daughter as it gave viewers the chance to see everything from a first person perspective.
Once the VR was over, it was time to go through the haunt… alone. This is what I had been waiting for all year, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Though there was nothing extreme about it, I found myself wanting to exit as soon as humanly possible as there was an air of dread and terror throughout the entire duration that I could not shake. The scare actors, sprinkled throughout the labyrinth corridors and rooms, were horrifying creatures that stalked their prey mercifully. Speaking of these creatures, the makeup and FX work were absolutely superb, and coming into contact with these otherbeings was truly terrifying. As for the maze itself, I was shocked by the duration of it. This wasn’t an in and out and you’re done maze, this went on for about 15-20 minutes and as the hallways closed in around you, it was hard not to feel the beginning effects of claustrophobia. However, my favorite part was the design of the haunt. Whether it be the wallpaper, the spiderwebs, the furniture, or the sacrifices, everything was designed with careful consideration, detail, and attention. All be told, I was truly blown away with the amount of work that went into this haunt from a design perspective.
Overall, I really liked what INTO THE BLACK had to offer. I do think trying to do so many things made the event a bit more convoluted than it needed to be, but I respect the determination and drive that the creators have. I also enjoyed knowing that by watching the short film again, after having gone through the maze, I would pick up on nuances and clues I had missed the first time. I think just sticking with the VR and the haunt might be the best course of action if they were to make another haunted attraction next year as I think it would be more beneficial to focus on two aspects instead of four. All in all, I still had a very enjoyable time and it was great to actually go through a haunt that put a feeling of complete terror within me. With all that said, I can’t wait to see what Larry and Cheryl cook up for us next year!
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