Inside America's Most Notorious "Psychosexual" Haunted House
BuzzFeed - Latest 2014-10-06
You won’t find ghosts in Blackout House , but you may leave with blood on your clothes.
Kristjan Thorgeirsson / Blackout House
Blackout House — an "extreme," theatrical haunted house produced each Halloween season in New York and Los Angeles — has made a name for itself, both for pioneering the solo walk-through experience and for shifting popular notions of what it means to be "haunted." Blackout's creators play on predominantly psychological fears, and the results, for some, are intense; reviews have called it "more torture chamber than scare-fest," "horrific, painful, abusive," and a "psychosexual terror extravaganza."
BuzzFeed was invited to Blackout House's opening night early this October. This year, it's dropped the solo walk-through in favor of experimenting with group dynamics. Its website promises, cryptically, "you will not walk through alone."
What follows is our experience, with moderate spoilers. (That said, in our opinion, it's an experience you can't really "spoil" — it's one thing to read about it, and another to do it yourself.)
Arianna Rebolini / Via BuzzFeed
Arianna Rebolini: Well I think it's fair to say that the "lead-up" began the day before, when we decided to investigate what we were actually walking into. Personally, I said yes (as someone who's never been in a proper haunted house) because I like scary things in general, but once we started reading Yelp reviews and seeing the words "psychosexual" and "girl who pretends to shit in your hands" thrown around I was a little…reluctant.
Katie Heaney: Our conversations, out of context, started to sound like the paranoid, imaginary negotiations of crazy people. I was like, "I can deal with it if someone throws up on my back. But what I really don't want to do is dance with a naked man." We spent that whole afternoon (and the next) kind of cycling between reassuring ourselves, reading Yelp reviews, and freaking out all over again. At one point I emailed the PR contact and was like, "Just making sure, are we gonna get groped?" He said no, and I was relieved for about a minute.
AR: I would be lying if I said I wasn't soooort of hoping for a subway delay that would make us miss our reservation.
KH: I think on the subway over you kind of spiraled and I was overcome with that weird sort of pre-inevitable danger calm. When we got there there were just a few people in line — other press and some friends of people working in the house — but from what I understand, when it's open to the public, the line gets CRAZY. But we were ushered in quickly, and made to stand against a wall next to three other people, who'd make up the rest of our group.
The awkward thing was that I immediately got a crush on the guy next to me, who seemed maybe drunk? And we were getting called up one by one to fill out our waivers and then go downstairs, but while I waited I was, like, chatting with this cute boy about how we were so scared. But I wasn't really scared. I was excited. When it was my turn I filled out my waiver (which I did not read) and asked the male guard if you would be staying with me. He was being "mean" so he just glared at me, which made me laugh. I was like, "OK." They made me put on a surgical mask and I went downstairs and waited for you.
AR: Waiting in that line, overcome with panic that they were splitting us up, and then skimming the waiver (which warned about physical contact, exposure to water, and CRAWLING) was probably the height of my fear, to be honest. My mind is capable of imagining TRULY horrific and unlikely scenarios, including being accidentally murdered in a Halloween attraction. Actually, I was so shaken that I handed the waiver in without signing, and then had to ask for it back with a million apologies because I'd already accepted the fake reality that this woman was, like, a corrupt prison guard and could punish me.