Unlike last year, where they oversold so many tickets that people waited for hours and hours to get in, this year (at least, if you get there at around 8 like we did) you won't have to fear the long lines. Whether or not you have to fear what's inside depends on who you ask; while one member of our team was physically trembling, most teenage boyfriends from New Jersey (who make up most the audience) scoffed when we asked them if it was scary as they exited the building.
It starts with a foul mouthed dead nun, which was more off-putting than terrifying but, unlike a few of the other young actresses further in, I give her credit for staying in character and going all out with her filthy talk. Shortly after that encounter we were hustled into a pitch dark corridor, a good sign, since the same gimmick when employed upstate at the Forest of Fear was possibly the scariest thing I've ever been put through. Other parts that really stood out were the room full of body bags and a lurking monster; a dining room with a real non prosthetic gigantic cannibal (think the gluttony scene from Seven) who sics his pet human on you; and a high anxiety building room with two bloody chainsaw wielding mad men who wait just long enough to freak you out.
There are a few attempts at scares that just fall flat, sometimes to the point that you want to pretend to be scared just to avoid hurting the bloody actress' feelings; and I don't know why they let the autopsy victim do his own routine “Blah, blah blah, hedge funds?!”
Sure, it's cheesy in many ways, but that's what I liked about it so much. Unlike the heady Nightmare house downtown (which was more interesting than scream inducing), this is a traditional classic: guys and girls in makeup, jumping out of the dark, yelling at you and (usually) scaring you pretty good. It's timeless and, for the thirty bucks you spend, the high production values shows. You can disagree if you like, pointing out all the plastic dummies, but I've been to quite a few horror houses in my time and the Citadel Mall certainly never had the attention to detail of moving books on the shelves and misting blood.
But what do you think?