As a huge fan of haunts, I'm always looking up new attractions to visit during the spookiest time of the year. Rarely do I come across ones that are open year round and worth my time and energy. From my experience they usually fall flat and are obviously geared towards tourists instead of a haunt enthusiast like myself. Luckily, with enough digging you can find a gem from time to time, and Escape The Dark is that gem!
Escape the Dark is a collaboration between two groups, NYZ Apocalypse and Fringe Horror Theater. The set-up is as follows: "You and three partners are research scientists working for the Aurora Institute, sent underground to investigate a terrible accident in the Apollo Prison System. Armed only with a single flashlight and your nerves of steel, you chances of survival are slim." Sounds terrifying, right?
The actual experience was quite unique. Once my group and I approached the building we were greeted by a solider, who ran down the rules of the attraction. We were told once inside, we would have to sign a waiver and would only be given a single flashlight. It's worth noting that only groups of four are allowed in at a time. The solider briefed us on the backstory, he explained to us that the creatures that now inhabit the prison are sensitive to light and live in the darkness, meaning the flashlight would be our only means of defense. We were also told that a few survivors needed to be located inside and that they might have clues to help us escape. After this we were instructed to enter a door and quickly guided to the beginning of the attraction. Our guide quickly vanished and our decent into darkness began.
The labyrinth itself was dark, but it wasn't pitch black since I was able to make out most of the set decoration. That's a plus for me! I have been to several haunts that rely heavily on darkness to scare visitors. Usually, it ends up feeling like you're in a void being felt up by strangers, not a haunted attraction. Each room was filled with gore. Blood splattered walls, disemboweled bodies, and severed limbs are littered throughout the haunt. At one point we passed through a disgusting bathroom set. Complete with the most realistic smells and props splattered throughout. I won't go into detail, but I'm sure you can use your imagination to guess what it was like. As we continued walking we came across the survivors mentioned at the beginning. Each had a distinct personality and urged you to find a hidden number somewhere in the room. One of the more difficult numbers to retrieve was hidden inside of the "guts" of a dog. We all hesitated at this point, until one of us decided to stick our hands into the sticky mess. Good times!
The actors and make up were also top notch. From what I could tell all of the creatures were dressed in orange prison suits and wearing clouded contact lenses. Their reactions to the lights also felt authentic. Anytime our flashlight would hit them they'd let out a loud shriek and disappear into the darkness. If we didn't move quick enough, they'd grab at us making the whole experience even more realistic. The closest thing I could compare them to are the creatures form the 2005 film, The Descent. The music playing throughout the attraction was excellent. The soundtrack seemed pretty familiar to me, as I'm almost certain that I heard music from Christine, It Follows, and The Guest. All together I feel Escape the Dark was an awesome haunt experience. The setting, mood, and ambiance all hit the nail on the head and I look forward to the next event from Fringe Horror Theater.
Also! Escape The Dark was housed inside of NYZ Apocalypse, which is normally an interactive zombie experience. Your group is equipped with special laser guns and tossed into the middle of a zombie infested prison. Your goal is simple. Survive. Blast away any zombies that stand in your way and make it through the prison unharmed. Since I have never gone through the original experience I can't give that a full review, but I do plan on going back and trying it out!
For more info on Fringe Horror, check out their Facebook page.
Also, check out NYZ Apocalypse's Official website.