Wednesday, October 31, 2012

[Haunted Attractions]/The Dent School House

Well, I'm a few days late on writing this but attending GMX in Nashville and then the whole deal with Hurricane Sandy kind of derailed things a little bit. That said, Carrie (Insanity Lurks Inside) and myself did manage to make it out to The Dent School House on Thursday the 25th. Granted...we almost didn't due to how long the drive is for us! Either way, I'm happy that we did make it, this haunt definitely lives up to it's reputation and is incredible in so many ways. This place delivers some 100% Grade A Nightmare Fuel...and we loved it.

You've still got tonight (October 31st) and then this Friday and Saturday (Nov 2nd and 3rd) to check it out and you're crazy if you don't.

Rating: Extremely Good (They're just one course away from Excellent)
Set Design: Excellent
Acting: Very Good
Recommendation: Just go already!
Price: $20 (includes Detention Hall as well), $30 Fast Pass!
Remaining Dates: October 31st 7:30pm-10pm and Nov 2nd and 3rd 7:30pm-Midnight

Full disclosure: We were invited out by Bud, co-owner, and comped admission so that we could experience this haunt and write these reviews. We arrived close to the end of the night on a Thursday as well. As always, I'll do my best to be fair and objective as best as I possibly can be.

Just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio we were faced with another haunt in a building with a lot of history, part of it being over 100 years old, and being genuinely creepy. The atmosphere is definitely set as you walk across the street from their parking lot and you see school buses and even a hearse waiting for your arrival to what could be your last day at school...though, I think that Carrie and myself would've loved it if our school was like this (Yes, we're twisted). This is a whole new level of completely twisted shit.

What The Dent School House does best is, well nearly everything to be honest. There's not one corner of this place isn't decked out to the nines with some kind of insane creation or tortured soul that's just dying for you to stay and play with it....forever. There's a lot going on inside of this haunt and while I'd love to explain all of it in detail, I just won't. It would give away too much and where's the fun in that? You'll just have to go and see it for yourself to find out what truly lurks behind these century old walls.

One thing I will say is that they have an amazingly well thought out and detailed back story for the entire haunt and they execute it well throughout. There's no questioning that you're in a school house gone wrong and that something evil lurks inside it's abandoned rooms and dark halls. The Janitor, Charley, is lurking somewhere in this twisted maze of brick, plaster and tortured souls...just waiting for another victim. They've expertly woven this tale with real history and fictional information that truly makes the entire thing feel extremely real. There's a sense of history that is given that can't be ignored and it carries over into the haunt perfectly.

With that, on with the review...
Warning: Possible spoilers below

We started off entering the fenced in area of the school yard, filled with little children. Oh think of the children, no...these kids definitely had something going on with them that wasn't quite right. And, what of the preacher going on about demons and the occult?

This was a prelude to what we were about to enter, this school truly had gone to hell and wasn't coming back anytime soon. It's an uneasy feeling you get and a great start to things that really sets the mood perfectly. Our group being hurried on by the preacher, we entered the inevitable nightmare that awaited us...

Once inside we were met with an onslaught of scares from every angle and set details that were truly amazing. I could easily sit here and write an entire novel about every last detail that was in place here. The twisting maze of this tortured experience not only confuses and disorients guests but also serves up the thrills in a ton of creative ways. You're taken through every memory, or nightmare, of school. We found ourselves under the barrage of crazed cafeteria ladies, school nurses gone completely insane as well as gym teachers and students hell bent on scaring the living piss out of you. Moving through the dusty and bloodied halls you find yourself going through school offices, class rooms and destroyed hallways that offer up the scares in some truly unique ways and unexpected ways. You'll want to look up, down and every other direction as you never quite know where a tortured student or insane faculty member is going to come from next.

What's waiting around the corner and down below just ups the ante to a whole new level. That tiny staircase leading us down into the bowels of the beast, the dusty and cramped feeling that just sat with a heavy, ominous feeling. Things were not right and you could tell that evil was just waiting, biding it's time to put you out of your misery and have you join the legions of undead within the walls. This section of the house upped the terror factor to eleven without any question. The tortured and mutilated bodies of Charley and his helpers' victims were everywhere as we moved through the claustrophobic underbelly of the school.

Every turn bringing us face to face with shop teachers gone mad, hooded minions and demons bursting through walls. Each new area we entered into was filled with some new, delightfully twisted vision of a nightmare and each was more than happy to get the biggest scares possible out of anyone that happened into their corner of this world of nightmare fuel. Every step that was taken along the way, you could feel things building up to the climax. There was no doubt that some serious creepy shit was taking place around here and it very well could be the last thing you ever see if you don't make it out alive.

But, the nightmare doesn't end there. New for this year is the Detention Hall. Usually these tacked on mazes aren't much to write home about, but this is a bit different. Fog machines working in overdrive, flickering lights and the minions of Boss Honk taunting your every step. Inside you're lost in a maze of metal bars, smoke and the constant misdirection and scares from those wandering the labyrinth within. And that music...god, that happy music playing throughout. It would drive just about anyone insane!

Overall, The Dent School House delivers up the scares in some seriously creative and surprising ways. There's not much I can truly find to fault here, and to be honest, I did find a couple but I had to really, really look deep at the place to find them at all. Most people wouldn't even notice, the group that was with us definitely didn't. That said, there were a few scenes that relied a bit too heavily on animatronics and some that were devoid of actors at all, just relying on static props. I'm not sure if this was due to the fact that it was a Thursday night or what, but it was only in a couple of places and not really noticed by many...but it would've been nice to have those couple areas with a bit more intensity.

What the crew at Dent has accomplished is truly amazing and they've used every opportunity that the building has given them, and making some of their own, to create a world class haunt. They fully deserve their status as the #2 haunt in the country. It's a rollercoaster ride of terror that they've skillfully managed to blend with the location and the actors inside are top notch. Topping that off with state of the art effects and amazingly detailed scenery, they've got one helluva show going on and it should not be missed. Screw what the rules, don't walk, to this haunt!

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