The original intent with this review of a local haunted house, particularly Hex House, was to get the opinions of both someone wholly unfamiliar to visiting haunted houses and someone with relative experience in the field. This, I’d hoped, would lead to a more balanced review, as it would be the product of two varied perspectives.
I scrapped this idea only moments after we’d finished the first half of the haunted house because of the unanimity of our opinions. The Hex House, or at least the teaser of it that’d we’d experienced, was much too short, about fifteen minutes or so. When you compare that to the three and a half hours we’d spent standing in a line with some genuinely deplorable people (one urinated on the sidewalk rather than abandon his spot in line), this length becomes even more disappointing. It’d gotten so late, in fact, that we decided to leave the attraction altogether, intending to return on a later date to do the second, titular section of the haunted house. We never did. This avoidance was due to our fear of a torturously long line rather than a terrifying experience, and that’s a real shame.
The Hex House might be aware of this problem, but they’re more concerned with profit than they are finding a proper solution. While my general admission ticket was $25.00, a separate $35.00 ‘express pass’ was available for purchase. The express line might have been convenient for the people moving through it, but for everyone else, it was simply frustrating. I saw a large group who’d purchased their express passes at the same time as my normal ticket make it into the house in a sixth of the time.
The only real entertainment to be had in the lines was watching costumed staff members terrify a few unsuspecting guests, and even that wore off quickly. A man in an oversized rat mask revved a (fake) chainsaw around guests’ legs to disperse groups and chase runners, while an especially creepy clown feigned childlike intelligence and posed for pictures. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to the workers’ fun is the “I-Ain’t-Scared-Of-You” archetype, the guy or gal who has to pump up their chest and ridicule the worker for even trying to startle them. While personally the workers outside never really scared me, I at least enjoyed their attempts, as opposed to the somewhat hostile responses they received from the occasional guest.
The same problem occurs within the house itself. Since we were only a group of three, we were forced to join another group of four, one of whom reluctantly took the lead and immediately donned the “this-is-stupid” approach. This approach consisted of asking workers where they got their makeup and complementing the fake props strewn around the rooms. It’s one thing to be disappointed by a haunted house, like I was. Its another to actively try to have a bad time.
And disappointed I was. Not just in the occasional shoddiness of a room layout, or the predictable timing of a worker’s attempted scare, but also for the lack of a consistent theme. I know this sounds like a stupid complaint, but I can assure you the scariest haunted house I ever went through was modeled like a backwoods town, while in this one you could be getting a lecture from nightmarish clowns one moment, and be ambushed by an oversized dragon the next.
The most terrifying moment in Hex House was one that might’ve been unscripted. Our group suddenly lost hope pushing our way through a very narrow, enclosed space, whose walls we had to fend off ourselves just to get breathing space. As we continued blindly down our path, some of us became genuinely afraid of suffocation, while I worried that we’d taken a wrong turn and might even topple some of the props. When we made it out the other end, we were legitimately thankful for the worker who hopped out and tried to scare us.
By the time we reached the end of the house itself, we didn’t feel relief, but a bitter pang of disappointment. We’d timed the attraction and found that the experience itself — barely over a quarter of an hour — did little to make up for the hours we’d spent in line.
Honestly, this visit to the Hex House might’ve killed any desire I had to make visiting haunted houses an annual tradition. The length of time we’d had to wait, the behavior of the other guests and finally the failure of the house itself to keep me constantly terrified left me a bit wanting. Haunted houses would love to advertise that their guests were too frightened to ever return. In this case, it was exactly the opposite.