Tuesday, October 29, 2013

[Haunt Review] Hauntville - Actor Driven Madness on the Shores of Lake Erie

The third overall stop during our trip into Ohio was our first one of the day on Saturday. This found us arriving into yet another strip mall and another former big box retail store. Seriously, this is a pretty good way to go with a haunt if you're looking for a location! It also seems to be pretty common in this area of Ohio...who knew, huh?

Hauntville is located in Elyria, Ohio and boasts four attractions to it's credit, Cellblock 13, Psycho Manor, Wicked Clowns in 4-D and a brand new Zombie paintball area that's in 3D as well. Apparently that last one is a first for Ohio...I know I haven't heard of it anywhere else at least.

We really didn't know much about this one outside of what we had been told by a friend of ours (and staff member) who worked there, +Madeline Eckhart (aka Peachy). So, once again we were going in pretty blind but with a few things to give us some background information.
  • Date Visited: 10/26/13
  • Review Team: +Carrie H.C. and +Kitsune Hazard 
  • Rating: Good (Actors: Excellent)
  • Recommendation: Definitely have to give this one a shot if you're in the Cleveland area.
  • Likes: Brilliant acting and some very unique takes on things that are quite surprising!
  • Dislikes: Would love to have seen more actors throughout the attraction as a whole and more set design in Cellblock 13 in some places.
  • Pro-Tip: Have fun with the actors, they seem to love to play off people and it makes it that much more enjoyable for not only them, but you as well!
Disclaimer: We were invited out to check out this year's Hauntville and given complimentary entry to the event. We also know one of the actors here as well. However, that has not and never will influence our opinions or view of any attraction, including this one.

So, with that down let's move on to the review, shall we?

We weren't sure of what to expect here as we pulled up, but after seeing that the whole big box store turned haunt worked the night before, we were pretty cool with the idea at this point.

So, through the coffin flanked entrance we went and after a quick stop at the ticket window, in line for the first of the three haunts that we would be experiencing on our trip. The first thing you'll notice along the corridor leading you into the start of this haunt is that theming isn't entirely lost on them. Definitely was nice to see.

Once we were in line there was an LCD screen that made it look like someone was trying to escape from inside, only to meet their untimely demise. These things are always pretty cool, but the fact that it was on a pretty constant loop meant and short meant that we saw quite a few times. After a few minutes, those around us started to make fun of it at that. Maybe this one needs something a bit longer or a pause between it refreshes.

As we got closer to entering, our tickets were punched and we were counted up. Apparently the maximum amount of people per group was right around 7 or so. Definitely a good thing to see and soon enough it was our turn to enter a do a little time.

After entering, we found ourselves being told to line up and we were given a bit of a performance by someone that probably should not have been in charge and it was made fully aware that the inmates were in control of this place these days. After this we were let in through the gate and towards a crazed journey filled with strobes, loud music and even crazier inmates. Some of which, definitely wanted to play a bit more than others.

They area very tricky bunch to deal with and you'll find yourself being led astray, pranked and scared from all sorts of interesting places. They're just having a blast now that the guards are nowhere to be seen and they have a fresh audience to work with.

Overall, this area really wasn't that bad and the acting really saved some of the lackluster scenery between different rooms. Plain white or black painted walls aren't really the best thing in the world here, but you can overlook it since the acting is so great inside them. Would like to see more devoted to scenery in the future though as this has a lot of potential to be really great.

From here we found ourselves wandering through an outdoor garden type area and then up to the front of Psycho Manor. After being welcomed into this grand estate, we were confronted with all manner of interesting folks who have taken up residence. It was a twisting and turning trip through the nightmarish world that they called home, they were all too eager to have us stay for dinner as well. We kindly refused that offer...

Once again, the denizens residing here really nailed things and were having tons of fun with everyone that came through. That said, there were definitely too few of them and as a result, a lot of scares seemed to rely on animatronics or areas were dead. The ones they employ are really great, but personally I would've liked to see more actors in here on the whole.

The next area to hit was Wicked Clowns in 4-D. Okay, we'd heard of 3D and even seen 4-D movies at theme parks, just what in the hell did they have planned for this one?

Again, typically we're not the 3D clowns types. No, we're not scared of them, just seen it enough times to make us want to tear our eyes out. So, let's be honest. We weren't overly looking forward to this one, we never do.

However, after an amusing greeting by one very curious (and familiar) hostess, we were met with quite a few surprises that we weren't expecting at all...

It's a insanity riddled technicolor wonderland filled with some really wicked little tricks. They will have you dealing with moving floors and a couple of other things that I won't mention here. I wouldn't want to spoil the surprises that await after all, now would I? On top of that  you're faced with some pretty deviously demented and playful clowns. They're in character and having fun with the whole thing and everyone that passes through which really helps elevate this above many others out there. So, in that area of things, don't change a thing at all!

In the end, we had a lot of fun with Hauntville. I can't say it's the best haunt that I've ever been to, but definitely a good one and well worth the visit. The actors are really great throughout and carry the place in a lot of ways. That said, I really would like to see a little less reliance on the prop/animatronic scares and more focus on their awesome actors and more inventive ideas they haev going on. Maybe even pairing them up for a one-two punch as well, ya know to go even further over the top. I'm confident and hopeful that some of those things happen, this one has a ton of potential for being a really great haunt in the future.

There's only a few nights left to check out Hauntville this season (one of them being Hallowen night) so for hours, tickets, directions and all other kinds of info, head on over to the official Hauntville website for that and more!

Happy scaring out there and as always, keep it here or follow along with us on Twitter @KitsuneHazard and on Google+ for all the latest updates, news and more from haunts all over the US!

All photos, unless otherwise marked, courtesy of Haunvtille.