Friday, October 9, 2015

[Haunt Review] West Deer Nightmare - Old School Actor Driven Haunting

You never quite know what to expect from smaller, local haunts. In the past, we've been challenged to rethink those guidelines as some smaller, lesser known haunted attractions are just amazing. That said, West Deer Nightmare is one of those in between kind of places.

I know, you're thinking that's bad, but it's really not and I'll get to that further down. Though, from the moment I pulled up, I was skeptical. I won't lie, it wasn't looking good for things, and I found myself wondering why I was even there.

However, once inside this relatively new haunt? Things really got interesting...surprisingly so and not how I expected it to either.

Quick Look

  • Date Visited:10/4/15
  • Review Team: +Kitsune Hazard
  • Rating: Good
  • Recommendation: This is a surprising haunt, if you're nearby give it a chance.
  • Likes: The cast, they sold this place on me and did just an awesome job of things. Love the story aspect that they're telling as well.
  • Dislikes: Not a lot of detail, and a few things felt a little disjointed/disconnected in some areas.
  • Pro-Tip: Go into this one with a bit of an open mind. Also, the smaller your group? Likely the better. If you can, split your groups down to 2 or 3 at most to get the most intimate trip through this one as possible.
  • Video Review: COMING SOON
Disclaimer: As usual, I was invited out to check out West Deer Nightmare. Due to that, I was given complimentary access to the event. That, in no way, nor will it ever, influence my opinions or thoughts on a show. 

Okay then, time to see what old Hobbs is up to...

Driving up, it's really unassuming this one. There's not a lot of signage, and the one that is there is kind of hard to see. At first, I admit, I was confused if I was in the right place at all. Since it was a slow night, and no line was formed either, that just added to it. However, the music and the lights, definitely clued me in that I was.

After being let inside, I really didn't know what was to come, at all. The first room is a bit of a pre-show kind of thing that clues you into the whole story and shows that Noah Hobbs is, in fact, dead.

Well, maybe, if the monitor on the screen before me and what the nice lady said was true. I'm not gonna go into too much detail here, but I did find this initial bit to be a promising sign of what was to come. The other intriguing part of all this was that I was handed a flash light. Usually, when that happens, nothing good is in my future.

After exiting, trusty flashlight in hand, it was time to see just what the research team that's taken over is up to. I had been promised a great many interesting specimens and other oddities and since I'm a little off, that sounds like a good time. What I found? Was curious to say the least. Before me was a very dark, and not very detailed trek into the unknown. However, I found that kind of worked out for the better. I had to rely on the beam of the flashlight to guide me a lot of the time, and that was, well, a mistake. So much mistake.

Further into the into the depths, I made my way through all kinds of scenes; bedrooms, kitchens, hospital settings, and more. Everything just kind of flashing before me illuminated by my light. Between each was kind of a "dead zone", just black hallways with too many places for the next scare to come from. This left me guessing, and usually wrong almost each time. I'd look somewhere, or around a corner, and some creation or victim of Hobbs was waiting to pounce from somewhere else all together, and pounce they did. It's disorienting almost, and I can't remember any sort of order to things as it all seemed very random, but almost intentionally so.

Since I was going through this alone, the experience was a lot more intimate and those lurking in the dark could focused totally on me. Which, was pretty awesome. To make it even better, they were just on things in a big way too. They bantered back with me, made me laugh a couple times, startled me more than a few times, and all while staying 100% in character. Despite it being a slow night, you'd think they'd seen at least a thousand people by the energy they put out. That is something you can't buy, or make, it's something you get lucky with.

Once through, I really had no idea how long I had been inside, nor where I was outside of the building. It was, again, a fever dream...or fever nightmare, if those exist. For a good few moments, I really had to think about what had just been experienced. It's a strange beast this one. So much so, I've had to do a lot of thinking about it since my visit.

This is not your typical kind of haunt so you shouldn't treat it as such either, it's is the epitome of low budget haunting on a lot of levels. However, low budgets don't always mean bad quality. Too often that's the thought many people have. Sure, it's not going to overload your senses every two seconds, but that's not always necessary either. West Deer is telling a story, which is really well put together, about the infamous Noah Hobbs. Throughout the haunt, you experience it in an almost random, dream like way. It's an odd combination that winds up creating a unique, and different experience than anything out there.

Now, would I like to see more detail? Hell yes, I'd be a fool not to say it, and really think they could benefit from such things too, but only as long as it was done right. However, with the cast that they have? It's not entirely necessary to have a great time here right now. The foundation is set for something really great, and they just have to put the pieces together to fully get there. But, until they do, they have something else entirely, and that's a very unique and yes, scary, attraction.

So, after all that praise, why just the Good rating and not something higher? Well, I'll be honest, the cast was really what made this place. Without them, it would've been far, far worse. Even with that, there's really just a lot of areas for improvement across the board here that could throw this up a few notches. Why they're not there? I'm not really sure, but they are still relatively new and that likely plays into things.

However, that doesn't mean they're something you should pass up either. What they have is a unique experience as it stands, and can offer something that's very different than the mass cattle call of other attractions out there.

The final verdict? Definitely check this one out, it's not expensive and they even donate a portion of the proceeds to Don't Be a Monster, which is an anti-bullying charity, so it's supporting a great cause as well.

For directions, dates, hours and to get tickets, check out the West Deer Nightmare website.

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