I’m so grateful to be able to experience the amount of haunts and immersive experiences that Los Angeles has to offer. The amount of creativity that goes into these experiences is above par to most events that I have participated in throughout the country. Every haunt season, there seems to be one event in particular that blows me away in terms of design, creativity, originality, and story and this year that would be THE KAIDAN PROJECT: WALLS GROW THIN from Rogue Arts Ensemble.

The experience starts a few days prior to your scheduled date when you receive an email that contains a letter from someone who needs our help. The letter is from the employees of Mori Storage and they are asking us for assistance in finding Kana Mori, the owner of the company. They’ve received very little information on where she could be except for some odd notes, strange phone calls, and voices that seem to come from within the walls. The employees detail that Ms. Mori had been acting odd and obsessive leading up to her disappearance and they hope that we can put the clues together and find where Kana has vanished too.

Actor Reggie Yip. Photo by Rebecca Bonebrake

What first drew me to the KAIDAN PROJECT was the notion that this was going to be an immersive experience centered around Japanese ghost stories. However, this show is much more than that and nothing could have prepared me for what I was going to experience. Through the use of beautiful storytelling, highly expressive acting, interactive sets, Japanese puppetry, and more, I felt like I was completely immersed in the entire story. To say I was blown away would be an understatement as I had never seen anything like this before. As a designer by trade, my heart was filled with so much joy to see the amount of detail, creativity, and talent that went into this entire production.

In regards to the story, the main focus was finding Kana Mori and making sure she was brought back safely. Even though I felt like there were moments where the story was a bit far fetched, it didn’t deter from my experience at all. The creators of THE KAIDAN PROJECT had transformed a warehouse into a waking nightmare that Mori was living in. I wasn’t sure how each vignette related to what Kana Mori was going through but I did pick up on the idea that whatever world she was trapped in housed traumatic experiences and ghosts of the past who desperately wanted to escape as well.

In terms of acting, everyone brought their A-game, but the true star of the show was the actress that played Kana Mori. For a role such as this the person embodying Mori needed to be passionate and dedicated. It was through her performance that we were to believe that she was truly in need, and in the case of the performer we had, she did just that. Throughout the run time we came into contact with other actors who are there to perform their own experiences relating to the events unfolding. Each person we met on our journey evoked a level of believability to their story so much so that it was hard not to become captivated in what they were saying. I also loved how each character seemed so different from the last and from what I could tell each one represented a warning for what could come if we didn’t ever leave this horrid place.

Photo by Chelsea Sutton

What really blew me away, and I touched upon this above, was the design and the execution of how the stories were told. My favorite experience was actually early on in the evening when my group and I were placed in a room designed to look like the bottom of a well. I’m not going to go into what happens but I can say with complete sincerity that my mind was blown. The way the story was told and the use of animation and live actors was superb. Each and every room that we went in after was designed just as thoughtfully but that first room really hit me hard in the best way possible. To the design team, and those responsible for the costumes and art direction, I commend you for the amount of work you put into this show. Your work was truly a masterpiece and with the exception of Delusion, I have yet to see anything that comes close to that level of dedication, passion, and drive in creating such a beautiful piece of immersive art.

As I’m sure you can tell in my review, I absolutely loved this experience through and through. I don’t know what the future holds for Rogue Arts Ensemble but I can tell you this, they now have a die-hard fan with me. From the beautiful sets, the heartbreaking stories, and the encompassing immersion that guests experience, THE KAIDAN PROJECT is one of the best events that I had during the Halloween season. I know, it’s taken me awhile to write this review and that was partly because it took me some time to find the words to express what I had experienced. With that said, I thank all those who are responsible for creating this breathtaking experience and for allowing me the chance to experience it. This coming weekend, November 17-19, will be their last weekend and even if you didn’t have the chance to catch THE KAIDAN PROJECT, I urge you to follow Rogue Arts Ensemble on social media to stay updated on any upcoming shows.

For more information on THE KAIDAN PROJECT and Rogue Arts Ensemble, visit www.rogueartists.org/kaidan-project.

Actors Tom Dang and Lara Thomas Ducey. Photo by Rebecca Bonebrake
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