Hello again, ghosts and ghouls! Taylor Terrible's back with another review, but this time it's going to be a little different than what I normally do...this will be my first haunt review!
Now, let me give you a little backstory here. The last time I was at a haunted house, I think I was about twelve years old. I remember it like it was yesterday, because it was one of the worst days of my life. It was a daytime children't haunted house, and this was long after I had discovered my love for horror, so I thought I would make it through just fine. I did, and we got to the very last moment of the house, where the guide took us into a little room that looked very much like a Victorian-style bedroom, furnished with old, tattered window trims and chairs with ripped seat cushions...the works. It looked great. Except I got stuck next to the night table. Well, let me tell you, I triggered something and the night table popped open revealing one of the scariest demon faces I've ever seen in my life, causing to pee myself and run out of the house screaming.
I had not been to a haunt since that day. Ten years. Ten long, peaceful years, I avoided haunts every Halloween season, until this year, when I told myself it would be a good idea to face my fear.
In early September, I took a family trip to the New York Renaissance Fair up in Tuxedo, New York (this makes sense I swear). It was my first time going to the fair, and it was stunning. The culture is amazing, the actors and props and atmosphere are not to be believed. If you're in New York and have never been, you need to go next season. Now, as you leave the fair at the end of the day, there's a big mansion set up advertising the Forest of Fear, the haunted attraction put together by the same people bringing us the Renaissance Fair. I got home, and said "hey, why not reach out and see what happens."
I was put in touch with Don (who was an absolute dream) who told me to come on up and have my pants scared off. I started questioning why the hell I even decided to reach out in the first place, but I told myself not to be a big baby, and I drove an hour and a half, hyperventilating the entire time, back up to Tuxedo to experience their Forest of Fear.
So I guess with all that being said, I'll get into my actual review of the place:
The atmosphere is amazing. You first walk through their "Chopping Mall", an adorable little shopping area filled with booths where you can buy creepy, handmade dolls, statues, incense, the list goes on. Then the fun starts. You shuffle into the line to enter the houses (their crowd control tactics are actually pretty incredible, I'll explain later) and as you wait, there's entertainment (aka a gorgeous clown doing aerial yoga), and you're constantly being spooked by characters popping up seemingly out of nowhere. I made quite a few friends - one from an asylum, one with a mouth full of maggots, and an unfortunate Santa with a dirty mouth. One character I didn't get to meet (I'm devastated I couldn't get a picture with him) was a sad clown making horrible jokes with a half-deflated balloon trailing behind him (you all know how much I LOVE creepy clowns).
They split the line up by group, allowing about 10 people at a time so that there's no wait in-between houses, which was SO nice. But what's so different about Forest of Fear that other haunts lack: there is ZERO RELIEF in between houses (and they keep track of how many people need to be pulled out on the outside of each house!). Let me explain.
There are seven haunts to walk through (YES, SEVEN): Uncle Jimmy's, CarnEVIL of the Damned (CLOWN CLOWN CLOWNS <3 <3 <3), The Slaughterhouse, Mourningwood (get it? Hehehe), The Craven Brothers, Blind Panic, and Das Spa.
Once you enter Uncle Jimmy's, the haunts never end. You don't exit one and choose which house you go into next, hence why I said there is no relief in-between them. You get about 250 feet of walking distance in-between, and then you're thrown right into the next haunt. I was terrified of this at first, but I slowly began to realize that you forget that you're on earth as you walk through. You truly forget that you're still in the real world and this is just a haunted house, because you have characters shepherding you from attraction to attraction and they don't break character no matter what you say (I had a man in The Slaughterhouse yelling in my face and I kept telling him he looked like Rob Zombie but nothing seemed to get him to crack a smile).
The haunts start off tame, first it starts out as a house full of crazed hillbillies, then you move onto the circus full of creepy-looking clowns honking REALLY loud horns right next to you (which sounds lame but when you're in a funhouse setup with mirrors and you can't tell where you are, it's really horrible...I got incredibly disorientated and I loved it). You exit the circus thinking "oh, alright, if this is how tame they are, I can handle this" and suddenly, like a switch flipped, all of the haunts become flat out disturbing. You become a patient in a quarantine unit where a disease has broken out, turning humans into experiments (which was home to one of the most disturbing characters of the night...a man in a trench coat with a gun aiming and shooting at people). You're being misled by a crazed family that wants to cut your limbs off (they chased my friend with a chainsaw to the point where she almost tapped out of the house). You're in a heavy-metal butcher's house with corpses hanging and crazed estheticians trying to peel your skin off.
The moment that really set this place apart for me: a giant animatronic (or maybe puppet? I'm not entirely sure) werewolf with glowing eyes and HUGE claws. This thing was massive. Easily the size of my kitchen. I hate giant animatronics almost more than anything and I nearly cried when I saw it.
Each haunt had a wonderfully original idea (minus the circle one, because everyone loves to use clowns) that I never would have come up with for my own haunt. The actors and makeup are impeccable. The setup is not to be paralleled - EVERY haunt should be set up with that "no relief period" feeling - it becomes so much more real.
With all of that being said, I had an absolutely amazing night. I conquered my fear of haunts, and while I didn't pee my pants, I definitely jumped and screamed a few times.
I was gifted a little something special at the end of my experience, as well: Forest of Fear has professional knife throwers. I was put up against the chopping block and tried to do this review from there, but when you have giant knives whizzing past your head, it's almost impossible to get words out...hence why this is a written review.
This is a MUST SEE if you're in the area - between amazing production value and a staff that clearly loves what they do, I know I'll be back at Forest of Fear every year for a long, long time. I want to also say a special thank you to Don, who was incredible and wonderful and was so, so sweet the entire time I was there.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Forest of Fear for having me for the night and for completely blowing me away. I'll be seeing you all again very soon!
And until next time, ghosts and ghouls,
Taylor Terrible <3