Haunt Review: Brighton Asylum

Haunted attractions are one of the things I live for. As an interior designer and a horror fiend my goal is to design and experience haunted attractions throughout the country.

On March 13, I had the pleasure of going to Brighton Asylum, located in Passaic, NJ. What sets them apart from other haunts is that first and foremost, they have events all year. Typically it’s one or two nights a month and these events occur on or around a holiday. Another thing that makes this haunt interesting is that it’s located in a warehouse. Typically haunts are outside, in small buildings, or on hayrides; but this haunt is none of those. This warehouse is also creepy as hell at night. It’s set back from the other warehouses and there isn’t a whole lot of activity going on around this place at night.

Before I proceed with this review let me tell you a little about myself. I’m a huge horror fan and a huge haunted attraction fiend. However, I talk a big game up until I’m about to enter the house. At this point I then freak out; however, I usually have 2-3 other people around me so it’s not a big deal. I also hate clowns. They scare the shit out of me. So, on the night I went to Brighton Asylum, I was going by myself and the theme was clowns. I was almost certain I was going to die.

Upon arrival to Brighton I was first in line for the house. I got to meet Rich, who is the owner of Brighton Asylum. Though he was incredibly busy and running around, he took time to stop and talk with me briefly which I thought was very nice. I was then informed that I would be the first one going into the haunted house and I would be going alone. Since I’m a professional I kept my cool, but on the inside all my fears were exploding. The thing with Brighton is you have to sign a waiver - this waiver allows the actors to touch you: This house is a full contact house (not like Blackout in NYC - thank God). So essentially I would be going into a haunt by myself, facing one of my biggest fears: clowns.

I handed the ticket taker my ticket and proceeded into a room that had a photographer and Twisty the Clown. I have a love/hate relationship with Twisty so I have him a wide berth and declined a photo with him. The next room is designed to look like the outside of the asylum. The design was great and definitely gave off a creepy vibe. Everything seemed to be designed with shades of gray and black. I was actually waiting for fog to billow out of the corners of the room. I felt like I was in an old school horror movie.  At this point I was told to wait at the entrance as they finished setting up the house. Standing at the entrance of Brighton was the tallest clown I ever saw. He looked at me and squeezed his bike horn and walked away. I giggled nervously and tried to compose myself. I made some small talk with one of the employees as I waited to enter which helped calm my nerves. A few minutes later the employee informed me that it was time to go in…

I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll keep this section short and to the point: the house scared the shit out of me. From the minute I entered the house to the minute I ran out of the house I had a clown follow me. Ironically enough this character actually became a comfort to me bc I knew I wasn’t alone. The actors bumped into me (on purpose of course), touched my face, and played with my hair - I even had a scare actor place a happy face sticker on my forehead and give me a balloon animal. I would say the first 10 minutes of the haunt I couldn’t stop shaking and I think sometime during the halfway mark my brain shut off from fear and I was able to complete the last 10 minutes without shaking.

The layout and design of the haunt is what really impressed me outside of my fears. It’s not a short house - it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete the house depending on how fast you move. There are a lot of scenes designed to take your focus away from where actors may be hiding which is a big plus. The set design is on point and they use a variety of tools to scare you…meaning they play off of all your senses. Nothing is what it seems.

As soon as I exited the house I was relieved, shaken up, and proud of myself. I went through the house alone, I faced my fear of clowns and I didn’t die! I was also impressed with all the hard work and detail that went into Brighton Asylum, especially during an off-season event. My only criticism of Brighton Asylum actually has nothing to do with the haunt but in actually finding the haunt. It took me about 15 minutes to find it nestled in with all the other warehouses. I’m not sure if they need better signage but it was difficult to locate.

I know you are all dying to know my review so here it is:

Story/Design: 2
Atmosphere/Scares: 2
Length of House: 2
Makeup/Costumes: 2
Revisit: 2

TOTAL: 10/10

I also need to give a special shout out to the actor dressed as one of the clowns from Killer Klowns from Outer Space.  You rocked my socks off.  For more information about Brighton Asylum, check out their website www.brightonasylum.com.  Also, if you are in the area, check out their newest haunt on May 9th, “Night of the Creeps.”