Last Year Jason Blum, producer of such horror films as Insidious, Paranormal Activity, and The Purge, burst onto the haunt scene in Los Angeles with the fully immersive haunted house attraction called the Blumhouse of Horrors. Situated inside the 6 story Variety Arts building, Blumhouse brought effective scares, enveloping thematics and a touch of class to the LA Haunt scene. The theatrical-like maze told the sinister story of a magician’s trick gone awry and the supernatural and sometimes gory consequences.
This premium haunt experience raised the bar for scares and storytelling in a way that is rarely seen elsewhere. Blumhouse set high expectations for the inevitable follow-up. What would Jason Blum do to top the spectacular work he had done for Blumhouse of Horrors last year?
The 2013 Haunt season brings an entirely new adventure from Blumhouse Productions, The Purge: Fear the Night. This maze was designed as a self guided walk-through themed to Blum’s The Purge film. In that movie, we see a dystopian United States in which the government rules without question. Once a year the elected officials lock themselves in the government headquarters while, on the outside, any and all sort of crime is legal for a 12 hour period – including murder. Violence and chaos reign as civilization turns on itself and crime is not only permitted, but encouraged.
The premise for The Purge: Fear the night was a good one. But after the first few previews it became apparent that the free-form haunt idea was a little too ahead of the curve for some and many guests didn’t know how to properly tour the facility to get the whole story and see all the wonderful effects. We attended that first preview and while we were blown away by the sets, immersiveness and creative story, the action was too spread out and other guests we encountered seemed to have no clue where to find the action happening in the building or what to do. Clearly, we’ve all been trained to get in a single file line and follow a set path. While the performances were amazing and the production values were over-the-top, it was all lost on an audience that was expecting something far more straightforward.
To their credit, Jason Blum and his crew are not in the business of delivering a shoddy product. They wanted to create something remarkable and enjoyed by audiences. After paying very close attention to the comments that audience members made after the first performances, Blumhouse shut the show down, rewrote 80% of the script, built brand new set pieces, and rehearsed endlessly to create a more effective piece of horror theatre. After just one week, they reopened a tighter more linear version of The Purge.
MiceChat and EVERYONE who purchased a ticket to the preview performances were invited back to experience the reworked version of The Purge: Fear the night. Producer Dayton Miller introduced himself to us outside the venue and explained that we were actually the very first people to see this updated production. He thanked us for coming out to give it another try and hoped that we would share our thoughts with him. Dayton, a super nice guy, was visibly nervous. It was apparent that there was a lot riding on this overhaul.
We entered the lobby and were given our Government clearance badges. All of the attendants and government sanctioned ushers had a disturbing placidity to them as they queued up the guests for a “Security Check”. One by one we were then sent through security, ALONE. We won’t spoil the surprises here, but the checkpoint then lands you immediately into the middle of a government rally.
Guided to take seats in the expansive auditorium, politicians spout rhetoric and platitudes of peace and equality as the purge storms outside. A creepy, saccharine sweet glow seemed to ooze from everyone guiding the group through this disquieting calm before the storm.
The theatre area is actually a holding spot for guests until your tour guide is ready for you.
Soon, a guide takes us backstage to meet to meet some important government VIPs . . . and then something goes terribly wrong. Rebels from outside the safe zone break in, take you hostage and incorporate you into their plans for a government takeover.
This is a loud, aggressive, in-your-face, high tension horror trek from this point on. It is also at this key point that the production separates from its previous script and becomes far more structured and guided. Before you were allowed to wander through the building. Now you are guided through to each specific scene as the storyline unfolds. It’s a welcome change which forces you to become part of the story instead of a hapless witness.
Coerced into the rebel band of mercenaries, you are under constant attack as you uncover the dark secrets of a sinister government. Pushed, pulled, prodded, and in some cases kidnapped and even intentionally separated from your group, visitors are now an active party of the scenes. Being ordered to perform certain actions or complete certain tasks throughout the show. We will not get into the specifics of what guests are subjected to, but let’s just say that it is a lot of fun.
The original version of this year’s event was a failed experiment, but it led to an admirable new version like a phoenix out of the fire. They improved what worked and fixed what didn’t. They really did the impossible in less than one short week.
They even went so far as to proactively offer full refunds to all who attended the preview weekend, also inviting them to come check out the improved version the next weekend for free. Who else does that? Nobody. It was a very difficult thing to do, but also the right thing to do for their customers.
The Purge: Fear the Night, now lives up to the standard they set last year. An engrossing plot thrusts you into the center of the action, demanding that all visitors take part in the story as it unfolds. This is a visceral experience that will leave your heart racing and your mind spinning. It is a wonderful touch that the walk-through concludes with a visit to a real bar. You may need a drink or two after surviving the Purge.
As an added benefit, The Purge Fear the Night is located just a block away from LA LIVE, which is filled with wonderful restaurants and night clubs. Make an evening of your visit to the freight-tastic haunt.
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