For the past decade or so, Blood Manor has become quite the Halloween establishment in NYC, thriving off of word of mouth reviews and promotional posters covering the subway walls. Surprisingly, despite operating all of these years to a dedicated fanbase, 2018 marks my first year attending the infamous Blood Manor.
While I’ve been to haunted attractions in the city before, almost none have come close to my experience with Blackout – a company known for their extreme sensibilities and no-holds-barred approach to the haunted house. However, something like Blackout exists in another realm. It’s unfair to compare a more traditional haunted house to an immersive theater experience/home invasion simulator. That’s why we need haunted attractions like Blood Manor: they provide an appropriately spooky necessity for the glorious Halloween season.
So what can you expect from your Blood Manor journey?
Given that it’s based in Manhattan, Blood Manor doesn’t have too much décor on the outside. There’s a small trailer where tickets are sold and, with it, comes a line that stretches down a block or two, depending on how busy it is. Actors patrol the sidewalk as they take photos with customers and do their best to build suspense for the main event.
Blood Manor is more or less divided into two sections: the first is a more traditional haunted house while the second is a more sensory affair that involves 3D glasses. While the first half is easily the scariest, the second half produced genuinely cool effects that I’ve never seen before. As someone who wears prescription glasses, having to hold the 3D ones over them wasn’t terribly convenient, but I was still able to appreciate how the 3D effect made the costumes and neon-soaked decorations come to life.
The overarching theme, from what I gathered, is a twist on the classic southern bayou/haunted plantation setting. Imagine a psychedelic journey into a world of witch doctors. While not all of the rooms maintain this theme, the team made a serviceable effort to ensure that each section could exist in the same universe.
Being a solo traveler, I was paired with a family of four. At first, I couldn’t help but feel like an uninvited guest and insisted that they could go ahead of me to ensure that I didn’t interfere in any way with their experience. However, as we made our way through Blood Manor together, things became more comfortable as we exchanged laughs and the occasional yelp. There was even one moment in which I found myself holding onto the shoulders of two of the family members in front of me. After realizing the situation, I apologized profusely. They laughed it off.
One tiny surprise that I enjoyed was the fact that it’s not an entirely linear experience. There were a few moments in which I was separated from my group and instructed to walk down a different hallway or to interact with one of the actors. While these didn’t play a huge part of the experience, they served as nice diversions and helped to bring a level of intimacy to my journey. Speaking of which, the actors did a fine job reciprocating the energy that the audience provided. Basically, it seemed as if everyone in my line of vision was having a blast, and this only added to the fun factor.
The liveliness of my experience at Blood Manor makes it easy to recommend, but there is a caveat. For haunted house veterans or those looking for extreme thrills, you most likely won’t find it here. Where Blood Manor succeeds is in providing a fresh twist on a classic haunted house template. If you have a group of friends looking for an appropriately spooky night out for the Halloween season, it’s a great time.