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WALK-THROUGH & REVIEW: Blackout Haunted House

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  Blackout Haunted House
54 West 39th Street
New York, NY

No two experiences are alike at Blackout Haunted House (formerly NYC Halloween Haunted House), so we have two walk-through accounts for you. The first walk-through is my experience and the second is written by "S."

 The Rules

  1. YOU MUST WALK THROUGH ALONE.
  2. You must be over 18.
  3. Stay on the marked path at all times.
  4. You will be prompted to do certain actions. Please do exactly as you’re told. This is for your safety.
  5. There is absolutely no speaking allowed inside. You can, however, scream as loud as you’d like.
  6. Do not ever touch the actors.
  7. Do not ever touch the walls.
  8. You must wear a protective mask and carry a flashlight at all times.

 

Walk-Through

***My experience of Blackout Haunted House as best as I can remember, due to the terror and disorientation that was experienced.***

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I was one of the very first people to experience Blackout Haunted House in September. They were still working things out and making changes and I left with mixed feelings. It wasn't as scary as it has been in the past and unlike past experiences it failed to create a moment terrifying enough to make me contemplate using the safe word. The following day co-creator Josh Randall e-mailed me and asked about my experience. I responded with a detailed e-mail and described what I loved and what could have been a lot scarier.

On my return visit in October I told them to "bring it." I challenged them to scare me. I assume that what happened to me was a complete accident and that they have made sure it will never happen again, but I can't help but feel like I kind of asked for it... and it was unlike any Haunted House experience I've ever had.

October 27, 2011 : "C" Returns to Blackout Haunted  House

It's cold, rainy, and miserable. One of those nights when you really don't want to leave your apartment.

 ...but I have to. I have a second date with Blackout Haunted House. I am grumbling about the rain when I have to stop and laugh. You know there's something wrong with you when you're on your way to the scariest haunted house in New York and you're stressed about the weather.

I arrive at the 39th Street location, check-in, and take my place in line. I have 3 black dots marked on my hand to ensure the most traumatic experience possible, but the anxiety hasn't hit me yet. I just feel excited.

I update my facebook page one last time. In hindsight, it was probably a bad idea to tell Blackout Haunted House to "bring it." Before I know it the guy ahead of me disappears behind the black plastic covering the entrance.

I'm next.
 
The anxiety begins.
 

I push past the black plastic to reveal a dark hall-way. The walls are covered in more black plastic. I walk to the end of the hallway, turn left, and then walk to the end of another hallway. I stop on the 'X' marked at the end of the hall. I am standing in front of a doorway draped in clear plastic. Beyond the door flashes a strobe light. A loud noise makes me jump and the fear sets in.

I am ordered into the room. A flashlight is shined in my face. I put on the face mask that is handed to me. A series of health and safety related questions are shouted at me. I respond appropriately and then I am shoved through a dark passage.

I take two steps and a large piece of plastic is pulled tightly over the front of my face. Disoriented and gasping for air I stumble into a dimly lit room. Several folding chairs sit before 2 stacked television sets. The first showing the graphic birthing of a calf and the second, a surveillance video camera displaying footage of me walking into the room. A woman in a hospital gown sits next to the TVs eating. She approaches me and motions to sit. I sit in a chair and the woman sits next to me. She begins to touch my face and my hair. On the surveillance video I see another woman slowly enter the room behind me. She sits and the two women touch my hair and face. The first woman takes my hand. After a few minutes the second woman snaps handcuffs around both my wrists and I am directed to the door.

As I walk through the doorway large arms wrap around me in the darkness and I am instructed to stay still. Hands move around my neck and then a hard metal object draws a line all the way around my neck. A chill runs down my spine. I am ordered to lift my arms. "Higher!" shouts an angry male voice.

I am roughly led to the next room where a wet bag is forcefully shoved over my head. I am ordered to kneel. Something firm pats my face and I am ordered to tilt my head back. Water pours over the bag forcing the bag to cling to my face. Unable to breath, I desperately force air out of my mouth. The bag raises and then comes crashing down over my face again and again. Next hands rub over my face and neck and then there is more water. Angry voices shout at me. One calls me a c*nt. I am ordered to scream several times and then told to bark like a dog. Struggling for air I am pulled to my feet. A voice orders me by name to turn to the left. I turn left and then a voice instructs me to walk straight ahead. I take a step and then arms grab me and a voice says "Not yet." I stand completely still. My upper body is soaked with water. Before I know it the bag is lifting off of my head and I am shoved forward. The bag is no longer over my head, but I am still trapped in darkness and I realize that I'm falling.

There is sharp pain as my knees and hands connect hard with a stone staircase. Arms quickly pull me to my feet. A frantic voice whispers "Are you OK?"  I say “yes.” I realize that when the wet bag was lifted from my head, it caused my face mask to pull up over my eyes like a blindfold. I grab the face mask and shove it into my pocket. Then I begin to climb the stairs.

There is a woman at the top. She shouts at me to climb a second flight of stairs. When I reach the next floor a different woman orders me to lie down on my back. She hands me a small glow stick and points to a tunnel and orders me to crawl through. As I begin to crawl, my aching knees scream for me to stop. Pieces of plastic are draped inside the tunnel to make the space even smaller, but any fear of small spaces is currently overshadowed by how much my knees hurt. When I finally reach the end of the tunnel a strange disturbed woman is waiting for me. She leads me into a dimly lit room with a chair. She tells me to sit and then walks over to stand on my left. She groans and takes my hand. She guides my hand between her legs and tells me to pull the string. I pull and she moans and out pops a bloody tampon. She grabs the hand holding the tampon and tells me to open my mouth. I follow her instruction and she squeezes liquid from the tampon into my open mouth. Then she orders me out of the room.

I find myself standing in the dark. As my eyes adjust I see a short completely naked bearded man approach me. He is grinning, so I smile back at him. He greets me by name which is super creepy. He doesn't appear to be feeling well and this is confirmed when he grabs my hand and makes a run for the nearby bathroom. He leads me inside and then shuts himself into the stall and vomits profusely. When the stall door opens he is smiling again and asks me to come inside. He explains that he needs me to get a key from inside the toilet. Wasting no time I start to reach in when he grabs my hand and coos "Oh … you're not scared at all now, are you? Well you know some people get the key with their mouth like bobbing for apples. You wanna try that?" I politely decline the suggestion and he slowly guides my hand into the filthy toilet. "You have to savor it." he says creepily as he moves my hand back and forth through the water.

Then the epic creeper asks "Isn't this the best sex you've ever had?"

"Yeah, sure," I reply sarcastically as I grab the key from the chunk-filled water.

The bearded man explodes. "That wasn't sex!" he shouts over and over before telling me to "leave and never come back!"

I make a quick escape down the stairs where a woman barks, "which hand did you use? and then grabs my arm by the elbow and pushes it into a bucket of water.

I make my way into the final room. A small light illuminates a naked woman chained to the floor. She begs for help. "He will be back soon," she warns. I rush over and try the toilet key in the lock. It doesn't fit. She points to a sink. The faucet is running into a bucket. I reach my hand into the bucket and find another key. This key fits the lock and the naked woman and I try to make a break for it. We rush down a hallway and then suddenly she's gone. A voice shouts "Get Out" as I am thrown from the house.

I shake my head and look myself over. My hair and my sweatshirt are soaked. I have a small cut on my hand and my knees are throbbing. I am anxious to get home for a warm blanket and an Advil. I have a sudden need to curl up in the fetal position.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

There is nothing like Blackout Haunted House. Each time I entrust them with my safety, I have no idea what to expect. I attended both their 2010 Haunted House & May Off-Season Event, yet never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be water boarded. There are strict rules for those who enter, but when it comes to the content inside the house, Blackout obliterates all the rules of the traditional haunted house.

I was involved in an accident while inside Blackout Haunted House. I admit that I wasn't thrilled to have black and blue knees, but that split second when I realized that something had gone wrong was terrifying. If a moment like that could be safely simulated, it would be an incredible addition to what is already a sick, twisted abduction experiment. I look forward to what they have in store for us in the future.

 

 

Walk-Through by "S"

Blackout NYC is an extreme haunted experience. I'd read all the reviews, watched the teaser videos and was super psyched to live through the terror first-hand.

The wave of a flashlight told me to enter the plastic-covered doorway. As I walk through the tight hallway, feeling my way through the darkness, I seriously wonder what I am doing there. I'd never gone to a haunted attraction on my own and I certainly wouldn't be able to live it down if I needed to use the safe word.

I'm instructed to wait at the entrance to a dimly-lit room. As I wait in the dark for what seems like forever, I take in my surroundings. The doorway is made of clear butcher-type plastic. I can't see through it, but occasionally I can see flashes of a hand-held light and hear the piercing sound of a whistle. Surrounded by plastic, I can't help but draw upon images of a Dexter-style kill room. Suddenly, a bright light blinds me and I'm instructed to enter the dark room, where we go over the rules. No touching the actors, no speaking once inside. I'm asked if I know the safe word, I nod, fearful that if I answer I'll be sent to the back of the line. I'm asked to say the safe word

"Safety"

He hands me a surgical mask. I put it on and immediately feel the warmth of my own breath.

Am I really breathing this fast already?

I'm told to stand on an X facing a black plastic curtain and countdown from three when I'm ready

Three.. Two...

I'm grabbed by the shoulders and pulled into a dimly lit room. As I try to adjust to my surroundings, a plastic sheet is pulled taught over my face. I can't breathe. I'm being pushed along the floor to the opposite corner of the room. My abductor releases the plastic enough for me to take a gulp of air through the sterile mask. “when I say, run down the stairs and take a left....”

“RUN!!”

And I'm off...down the stairs, through a hallway and into a makeshift viewing room.

There's a row of chairs in front of television projecting gruesome images of some kind of animal surgery. The man that was in line ahead of me is sitting, watching the television with an unkempt-looking girl wearing a hospital johnny. A different crazy-looking girl approaches me and leads me to a chair to view the bloody massacre playing on the television screen. She's singing, quite eerily, a faint melody to me as she presses my head to her breasts and begins to rock me, stroking my hair. It's terrifyingly reminiscent of the closet scene in Carrie. Awesome. She removes my hair elastic and runs her fingers through my hair. I open my eyes to see the other crazy girl rubbing my arms with a plastic spoon. At some—I’m guessing—the other guy in the room had been led out. My crazy muse goes behind the television to grab a black strap. She slowly, methodically approaches me and binds my hands. I am pulled off my chair and led to a dark hallway. I'm nudged into the darkness.

I feel my way through the hallway and enter into a pitch black room. Waving my bound hands in front of me, fearful I'll walk into something—or someone.

Too late.

I'm grabbed by the neck. A forceful man whispers into my ear, “Don't fucking move!”

So I don't.

I even hold my breath as he burrows his sweaty face in my neck and proceeds to smell me. I can finally breathe again when he walks away.

And I wait...

In the dark...

...and, of course, my mind is playing tricks on me. I keep thinking I see someone creeping out of the darkness, but if they're there they never show themselves.

Just as I'm starting to get annoyed, I feel a soft touch on my inner calf. The delicate touch causes me to shudder as the hand makes its way up to my inner thigh. Whoever it was, appears to be gone, but I can't help but hold my breath and wait for the next assault.

I hear a strange metallic sound, similar to the sound of someone sharpening a knife. Something slides across my throat, raising goose-bumps and forcing me to press my bound arms into my chest.

A man grabs me from behind and begins to push me through the room. “You're gonna love this...

I'm pushed into a different room.

My assailant forces me into a chair and places goggles over my eyes. A flashlight is placed into my hands, pointing straight ahead of me. The goggles are foggy and I can't really see anything but the emptiness in the cylindrical glow created by the light. I think it's my imagination but, no... there's someone there. I can feel him. I finally see someone appearing in the corner of the room. He moves so slowly It's hard to notice at first. As he approaches, I can see that he's wearing a woman's camisole. He's so tall and it's certainly not long enough to hide the fact that he's naked underneath. He walks up to me, and gently cups my cheek. The softness in his touch and the familiarity with which he gazes at me is unsettling. His hand moves from my face and reaches to the flashlight. He removes it from my hands and slowly forces my legs apart to place the flashlight on the ground between my feet. He lingers far too long for comfort, never moving his gaze from mine. I'm pulled onto my feet to stand. He whispers, “so pretty....so sweet” spins me around and embraces me from behind. Still holding me, he leads me forward.

Suddenly , I'm grabbed by a forceful man, pushed up against a wall and told to stare at the bricks in front of me. The room is filled with the sound of blood-curdling screams. The man grabs my head, cocking my head to the side so he can whisper directly into my ear.

“Do you hear that?"

The screaming has turned into begging. HELP!! PLEASE, HELP!!!

“You're next."

I thought the slight yelp that escaped from my mouth wouldn't be heard over the victim's screaming but my assailant didn't miss a beat.

“DID YOU JUST LAUGH?!?”

I shook my head NO!!

“DON'T.  FUCKING.  LAUGH.

“Now, what you're gonna do is back up from the wall real slow...”

I start to move away from the wall.

“I SAID, SLOW!!” He screams.

I'm turned around and told to get on the ground. My captor pulls me to stand on my knees and a wet bag is placed on my head. Before I know it, I'm hit in the face with a wall of water. It drips down my face and chest all the way down into my pants.

I'm drowning.

The fabric from the bag has made its way into my mouth and nostrils. Every breath I take is labored and filled with water. My assailant shoves his fingers into my nostrils, pushing the fabric deeper into my nose, forcing me to breathe through my mouth.

I can't breathe.

“I wanna hear you scream”

I scream so loud I can't even believe the scream could be coming from my mouth. They tell me to cry for help.

I'm begging, “SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME!!”

I am one second away from calling the safe word when he shoves his hand in my mouth, grabbing onto my upper teeth, tilting my head backward. His hands are covered in some kind of chemical. They reek of rubbing alcohol and the smell makes me feel dizzy and disoriented. I'm pulled onto my feet and pushed forward. The bag is lifted off my head to reveal a staircase. I'm told to run up both flights of stairs.

I run as fast as I can, still feeling the effects of the torture.

Somewhere along the way I've lost my hair elastic and my hair is soaking wet and sticking to my neck. My surgical mask is damp, but I don't dare remove it. When I reach the top of the stairs, I'm handed a glow stick and told to get on my knees.

“Crawl!”

I'm pointed towards a dark tunnel. As I crawl through the misty tunnel a man grabs my foot. I shrug him off and crawl faster, hoping to out-run any other assailants. The plastic above my head begins to shake—someone is trying to get me, but I'm fast and I make it out of the tunnel unscathed.

When I emerge, there's a crazy-looking girl, wearing child-like pajamas. She takes my light and throws it into a dark hallway, pulling me into a room lit by a single floor lamp. I'm led to a chair. She keeps saying “Don't look” and pushes my face away from her.

I feel something in my hand—it’s a string. When she tells me to pull, I'm left with a tampon in my hand. She pushes it into my mouth and tells me to suck it. I'm immediately taken out of the scare, the scenario is dumb and the acting is terrible. I'll say it once, I'll say it again: menstrual blood is not scary.

She yells at me to get out.

I'm glad to escape.

As I enter the hallway, I encounter a short, naked man. He corners me and begins to heave. He grabs me by the hand and pulls me into a bathroom. He locks himself in the stall as he retches into the toilet. He opens the door and pulls me into the stall.... “the key,” he motions to the toilet.

I hesitate. I know what I need to do, but it doesn't make it any easier. I shove my hand into the toilet—to my surprisingly sick enjoyment, it's filled with a chunky vomit-like substance. Gross.

“it's just a little vomit,” my naked friend encourages me. He then proceeds to grab my arm and shove my hand all the way into the pipe of the toilet bowl!! (I'm glad I chose my right hand and not the hand with my engagement ring!)

I grab the key and pull my arm out of the filthy water.

He tells me to go—and I'm running again.

A stage manager makes me wash the arm I've used—which is kind of weird.

I enter a room where a naked woman lies in shackles on a mattress. She instructs me to use the key for the lock on her ankle. It doesn't work and I'm told to check a bucket in the sink. As I go to reach into the water, she screams—and I'm genuinely startled, thinking I might be electrocuted or something of the like.

I grab the key and this time it works. I set her free and she tells me we have to get out. As we enter a dark hallway, we're spotted by a man who yells,

“what the fuck are you doing with her?!? GET THE FUCK OUT!!!”

I run down a dark hallway and emerge through a plastic curtain into the safety of the waiting area.

Now, I feel like a survivor.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

"C" and I always feel that anticipation is key to an effective scare and Blackout certainly got it right this time. There's something terribly unsettling about the subtle white noise in the expansive warehouse setting of the haunt. Being left alone in the dark allows your mind to play tricks on you—you have the time to let yourself be scared.

The surgical masks really draw attention to the warmth and speed of your breathing. They're totally effective and creepy—until they're soaked with water and you have a wet mask on your face , which is gross and effective in a completely different way.

The roughness with which the actors treat you is exhilarating and frightening. As a small girl (under 5'2”), no one usually dares to push me around. It was scary when the actors grabbed me, but I never felt like they were out of control.

Sliding your hand (or whatever it was) across my throat was terrifying. I hate it when people touch my neck or throat and it was extremely effective.  I had chills immediately.

The creepy, gentle demeanor of the man in the camisole was such a great contrast to all the roughness at the beginning of the haunt. I like that the actor really took his time. His slow and methodical movements made my heart race.

Umm, you water boarded me? Really?!?  That was awesome and terrible. Nice work.

The stairs were annoying.

Menstrual blood isn't scary.

I don't understand why that man swallowed a key and why I had to get it—and I definitely don't understand the connection between the naked man and woman and why he didn't just save her himself, not that she really seemed to be in any trouble – there were no signs of struggle, abuse or  blood. She looked well fed. I guess I just didn't understand the second half of the house.

Blackout is not a haunted house for the faint of heart (or stomach, or knees, for that matter!) Its audience is a brave bunch—there are many who are terrified at the idea of entering alone –and trusting the actors to touch you! There is a genuine need for a safety word here; it's not just a gimmick to sell more tickets. The fact that you enter alone should tell you that ticket sales aren't Vortex Theater's main concern. The character development and story line within each room is top notch in comparison with the other haunts out there, but I would love to see the connection between each room next time.

 

Additional Info

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