As the story goes, many years ago an accident occurred at a theatre known for its eccentric resident magician. This particular location was renowned as a center for the dark arts and was home to only the most extreme theurgists. One ominous night, a magician’s assistant climbed into a magical box and disappeared, never to return. Shortly after, more paranormal events increased and the theatre was closed. Rumors spread and the haunted passages remained closed to the public until today.
This October, haunt goers looking for a little bit more substance to their scares might do well to visit The Blumhouse of Horrors, just one block from the L.A. Live Complex. Blumhouse of Horrors took over the 88-year-old Variety Arts Theater building, located at 940 South Figueroa Street, and has created a unique new haunt experience. Guests are invited to explore the wandering halls and corridors in search of what may have happened on that fateful night so long ago.
Produced by the folks responsible for the frighteningly delightful Paranormal Activity movie franchise and Insidious, The Blumhouse of Horrors was an idea that had been brewing for a few years. During our recent visit, Jason Blum, founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions explained that in creating his recent string of horror hits, he wanted to create story and scares in a new, inventive way. Does it succeed? Yes and no.
Upon entering the aged theatre lobby, guests are greeted by a series of ushers that carefully explain the setup of the story. It is clear that you are in a place of foreboding. Something terrible happened during a magic trick many years ago and the mystery has remained locked inside the creaky walls of this old theatre. Once the exposition is out of the way we are let loose on the path.
Along the way we encounter brilliantly cast actors that portray the inhabitants, past and present, of the building. The dark arts, regret, and love are recurring themes that string together the loose plot of magic gone horribly wrong. Guests are confronted by ethereal magicians, fortune tellers, magic portals and other-worldly creatures.
The production values here are some of the best you will find at any haunt this season. The art direction is pitch perfect. The set design and decoration creates a consistent mood and tone throughout. One truly feels transported to another time, surrounded by burnt tones and a musty color palette. The special effects are used with enough restraint so as to really make the big moments shine.
Another mention needs to be made of the cast. Each hit their marks perfectly during our two tours through the attraction. Of particular note are the various actors playing the magician. All have the same movement and mannerisms down that effectively creates the illusion that they are all the same person. The cast should be very proud of their work here as it is solid.
There is no question that they are attempting something ambitious here, and must be commended for that. Average haunt experiences are a series of scares strung along an overarching theme. Here, they are attempting to create a story that an audience will instantly be drawn into. To give the setup, the plot, and the conclusion in an average of 25 minutes is an onerous task. Especially when most films have 90 minutes to get all of that work done. The team at Blumhouse certainly gives it their best, but on the night I visited, the storyline was never pronounced enough to be compelling. Thankfully, the scares and atmosphere, along with the novelty of touring one of Los Angeles’ most historic theaters is entertaining in its own right.
We hear that they have continued to tweak and refine this haunted experience, and we have little doubt that this talented crew will eventually get all the kinks worked out. We invite you to watch a little video we put together of the Blumhouse of Horrors:
You can purchase tickets by visiting the Blumhouse of Horrors website here.