2014-2016 Reviews

2016 Horror Hall Review

Location: 11 East Poplar St. West Nanticoke, PA, 18634
Webpage: http://www.horrorhall.com

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Introduction

Horror Hall is an annual visit, a haunt that has been a staple in Northeast Pennsylvania for more than twenty years and serves as a fundraiser for the Plymouth Township Fire and Rescue Company. Despite a lack of overall changes, Horror Hall features a host of genuinely effective, detailed set designs, is a lengthy attraction and with some minor changes/modernization can be one of the scariest in the area. From a structural standpoint, the attraction is stronger than many mainstream haunted attractions and has rather impressive scenes that are sometimes not utilized to their full potential. The maze portion of the attraction is also effective at generating anticipation from scene to scene. Periods of darkness, loud sound effects and tight spaces are the perfect setting to generate scares. Character actors are also well hidden along these paths, and while they don’t go beyond the general scream or yell, they can induce a startle scare from time to time. With some modern enhancements, and enhanced scare acting, Horror Hall can remain a family friendly haunt, while at the same time incorporating a more intense experience that caters to veteran visitors of this longstanding attraction.

After visiting numerous haunted attractions in the tristate area, it is safe to say this is one of the more impressive indoor walk-through attractions. Horror Hall’s design is on par and exceeds many haunts with massive advertising budgets. Hopefully, in future seasons the attraction’s designers find ways to maximize the potential of the impressively designed haunt to use new strategies to create a fresh experience for mature haunt fans. The show is improved over last year’s event, incorporating new scenes and generally improved scare acting that creates a stronger show. For $13.00 this is a value of an attraction, and we recommend you visit this season!

For those who visit yearly, they may know the attraction by heart, which while does not hinder its quality, an updated presentation and alterations to the attractions operations can enhance the experience immensely. The set designs and scenes are some of the best you will see in mainstream or non-mainstream haunts, feature impressive details and creativity that adds to the “fun” atmosphere generate by this haunt. Scenes such as the iconic hall of horror villains, a zombie infested “Movie theater”, jail break-out scene, creepy graveyard featuring an impressive animatronic rising from the grave, and swamp set are memorable set designs. Furthermore, Horror Hall has added a grizzly, gritty new butcher scene, disturbing carnival/clown room and a twisted take on Christmas featuring “Krampus”. As mentioned previously the design of the attraction is impressive, an almost flawless recreation of a funhouse that can evolve into a truly terrifying experience.

Attraction

Horror Hall is a popular attraction in Northeast Pennsylvania, and wait times can be lengthy as we approach Halloween. While waiting, we watched the familiar pre-show entertainment featuring Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and provide the rules. The attraction escorts guests into the attraction in larger groups as rows of guests are guided by flashlight upstairs into the main haunt and keeps larger groups together throughout the duration of the attraction.

Horror Hall is designed in a maze-like manner, featuring dark corridors filled with various scare actors who engage in various startle/drop scares. Each corridor is dark, utilizes lighting effects and fog to distract guests. Auditory and visual distractions allow actors to generate “jump” scares, and a few more monsters would make the experience even more fulfilling. The set designs found at Horror Hall are classic, we love several of the classic scenes, along with new scenes such as the surprisingly gory butcher/chainsaw scene, and visit with Krampus.  In many respects, the attraction was ahead of its time as many haunts are beginning to incorporate interactive scenes, and Horror Hall was one of the first to do so, with collapsing rooms, bridges and the infamous room of “saws”. Horror Hall’s use of dense fog, incredible soundtrack, and blinding lights effectively disorientate guests as they make their way through a detailed, lengthy maze. If the attraction can address some minor issues and incorporate modern haunt aspects into its classical show, it has the potential to be a truly terrifying, unique haunted attraction experience.

Line management and group control is an issue which prevents Horror Hall from reaching its potential. Larger haunts of similar maze structure are utilizing strategies to break up groups of six to eight into smaller groups allowing more intimate, personal show. These attractions are still maintaining relatively short wait times, yet finding ways to separate groups so every guest can experience a quality show. The larger group format also hinders the effectiveness of the impressive set designs featured at Horror Hall. The design of this attraction is genuinely impressive, yet at times a sense of being rushed as actors are out of place, too much guidance is given to groups to keep moving, and attention is distracted from the scarier set designs and experiences provided by this haunt. Again, smaller group sizes managed by a combination of scare acting and sets that slow progression can be utilized to create personal experiences and allow all visitors the chance to appreciate the hard work placed into the creation of each scene. Rushing guests through each room/corridor prevents the scare actors from being able to get to all members of each group, as they often had to jump back into place. We also missed several of the new scenes, such as a gunfire/prison escape, and the full effect of the hall of “horror” movie villains due to this issue. Horror Hall is proving a quality show and deserves to be experienced in its entirety.

As mentioned in previous reviews, actors who yell, make loud noises and pop out of nowhere are only scary if they are complimented with actors who tell a story.  The scare actors are very aggressive in some scenes, yet some are reserved in their interactions with guests. The best haunted attractions visited invest heavily in actor training, finding ways to incorporate “extreme” elements such as light touching and strategies to create characters to create fear.  Startle or jump scare loose effectiveness if they are not combined with more direct or interactive acting. Horror Hall has the infrastructure and set designs in place to create true fear. Not all scare actors need to be storytellers, but an overemphasis of startle/jump cares distracts from the overall experience. The diversity of scare actors can also help emphasize the more impressive, daunting set designs/ animatronics and props created by the attraction. There are some truly unique scenes in this attraction that are often ignored or rushed through due to a heightened pace. Perhaps Horror Hall can incorporate elements used by other local and larger scale haunts such as “blackout events” in which it can provide a more mature/extreme show or more physical interactions in which guests who wish not to participate are provided a glow neckless. Incorporation of new ideas, coupled with an emphasis on using each scene to its fullest potential can make a huge impact on the fear factor generated by this haunt. There is serious potential to create an experience that caters to haunt fans of all ages, and backgrounds.

The attraction can still use a stronger climax as the execution scene is a rather flat ending after a memorable visit with Krampus and feels more like a bonus scene than a true ending. Horror Hall continues to be an entertaining, at times extremely impressive haunted attraction that with small changes and modernization can be one of the best in an ever expanding Northeast Pennsylvania haunt scene.

Final Word

Horror Hall is an enjoyable, traditional haunted attraction experience which features several unique scenes/set designs that you will not see in any other haunted attraction. The attraction’s design has held up over the past several years, and new additions this year add to the overall experience. The unique set designs and special effects are impressive, especially for a volunteer/charity based attraction and again some organizational changes regarding line management, scene pacing and possible inclusion of  more mature haunt elements can keep Horror Hall as a must visit attraction.

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