There is something to be said about a haunt that combines terror, gore, and hot men and women. For some reason, it seems to just go together, like two puzzle pieces meant to fit into each other perfectly. When I first heard about GORLESQUE! I was attending Monsterpalooza and was very intrigued with their marketing. In front of me stood a large cage, around 8 ft tall, which housed a dancer scantily clad and looking a bit worse for wear. The reason being is that she's not exactly alive, but that didn't stop the hordes of men (and women) from taking selfies with her as she tried to make all those that got near her into a little snack. Fast forward a few months to Midsummer Scream and guests had the chance to experience their mini version of what they would be offering come Halloween time. Having had the chance to go through their mini experience and come face to face with the world of Dr. Weltschmerz, I can say with certainty, that this was one of the haunts I was looking forward to the most.
The story that centered around GORLESQUE! was simple yet effective. Guests are introduced to the Weltschmerz Society, created by the late fictional German scientist Dr. Weltschmerz, who had a penchant for beautiful women and a deadly obsession with perfection. His followers, aptly called "The Weltzie Society", are here to show those who enter their kingdom the teachings of Dr. Weltschmerz and prepare us for perfection through what they called PARADISE. However, all is not what it seems as we get a glimpse into the mind of this madman and become victims and targets of the perfection-obsessed "Weltzies".
One of the strongest aspects of GORLESQUE!, and something I picked up on right away, was their advertising and design aesthetic used to lure people into their haunt. Seeing the posters of a half naked beautiful woman, chomping down on a man's detached leg, blood dripping from her lips, with a smile that's as sly as a fox, is definitely going to garner some attention. It was genius marketing on their part and it worked. This haunt is not a kids maze, it's an adult experience with adult language, situations and physical contact, so first timers beware. Pete and Wes, the creators of GORLESQUE!, created an event that was inspired by their own horror fan memories and favorite female archetypes, but not those innocent damsels in distress that we see all too often, but by showing females as strong and voracious monsters.
For a first year haunt, there was a lot that I was impressed with and a few things that left a bit to be desired. First and foremost, I loved the storyline and was immediately intrigued with the somewhat Scientology vibe I was getting. Other than a strong storyline, the other aspect that needs to be just as strong is the acting and the actors for this experience were on point. I found myself having a bit of a sweet spot for the Weltzies that would yell in our faces and push us into the next room. They were definitely something special and had no problem asserting their dominance in the name of perfection. Each individual that we encountered, whether it was one of Dr. Weltschmerz followers or a tragic "imperfect" victim, was at their best and interacted with each and every person that came through. The only issue I had was with one of the actors at the end who made us all stand in a row while he hurled insults at us. I understand what he was doing, I completely get why he was doing it, but I had a feeling that he was going a little too far. Telling me, a woman who has dealt with weight issues her whole life, that I need to learn to push away a plate of food (in the name of perfection), hit me in the gut hard and I found myself feeling ashamed. I don't like that feeling and it was something that was hard to shake off. Other than that one instance though, which I'm willing to look past, I absolutely loved interacting with each person throughout this 20-30 minute experience.
The only other thing that I felt was really lacking in this haunt was the set design. This was disappointing mainly because of how well all their marketing material was, it really seemed that they had the design portion of this experience under control. I completely understand that creating a haunt such as this is a lot of blood, sweat and tears but I would have liked to have seen more from the designers. I felt that with just a little bit more of a push, the whole design could have been elevated to a whole other level which would have resulted in a huge impact on the audience. It's as though GORLESQUE! was right on the brink of being there and with just a little more time and possibly a bigger budget, they would have hit the ball out of the park.
Regardless, at the end of the day, what GORLESQUE! did was entertain me and my friends. Though there were some growing pains, something that all first year haunts go through, I still left this experience with a smile on my face. I would love to see this haunt expanded in the years to come as I think it would be really intriguing to witness how the burlesque side of the show gets interwoven within the storyline. All in all, this was one of the more entertaining and exhilarating haunts that I went to this season and I can't wait to see what the team brings next year!
For more information visit the GORLESQUE! website at www.gorlesque.com.