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WALK-THROUGH & REVIEW: Blackout Haunted House Off-Season Event (2012)

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Manhattan's Blackout Haunted House is infamous for its unconventional scare tactics. It has reached cult status among its fans and given birth to crazy urban legend hoax theories. Their exclusive off-season events are always the most extreme.

This will be my second off-season event and I'm feeling anxious, but focusing all of my energy on arriving exactly on time. Tardiness is not tolerated.

I'm dressed in old clothes that I don't care about. A lesson I learned last year the hard way.

I arrive at the secret location exactly on time and a peaceful feeling comes over me as I relinquish control to Blackout Haunted House. I am in their hands now.

I have no idea that in 40 minutes I'll be lying naked on a hotel floor wrapped in industrial plastic.

A man wearing a Blackout Elipsis t-shirt walks over to me. I am instructed to read and sign a waiver. I must read the last paragraph out loud for a video waiver.

I am instructed to walk down the street. I walk cautiously, afraid I will miss something, when Blackout co-creator Josh Randall appears at my side and in his intense way gives instructions and hands me a cell phone and an envelope. I follow the instructions and when I reach the specified intersection the phone rings. I answer. I open the envelope as instructed. Inside are directions and a key card. The voice tells me to look to my left. Then I see my destination. It's a hotel.

I focus on following the directions printed on the small sheet of paper I found in the envelope. Enter the hotel. Take the right elevator. Find the right room. I take a deep breath and enter the warm balmy room the hotel AC is working tirelessly to counteract.

I follow instructions. Take my shoes off and place them by the bed. The "gift" I can accept or refuse sits on the desk in front of the bed. It is a shot of whiskey. I figure I can use all the help I can get and toss it back quickly before I follow the final instructions. "Get into bed, turn off the light, and go to sleep."

I try to relax. I listen to the hum of the AC. Then I realize I can hear movement coming from the far side of the room. It continues and I can feel it growing nearer.

I am surprised when I suddenly feel weight on the bed in two different places. The weight moves until I am sandwiched between two bodies audibly breathing at the same pace. The warmth and deep breathing feels sensual at first but quickly grows hostile and claustrophobic as the breathing gets increasingly faster and closer until there is simultaneous hyperventilating on each side of my face. The breathers quickly rush in closer to my face and then out. The breather on my right accidentally clocks me in the head.

Disoriented, I am lifted up and held in a seated position. Then a pillow presses over my face.

I inhale deeply as the pillow moves from my face. Arms pull me from the bed and I am standing on the floor moving toward the other side of the room. A bag goes over my head and my hands are bound. I am led into what I assume is a corner of the bathroom and a voice tells me not to move.

I stand perfectly still for a few moments and then I hear a sickly voice. "Take off the hood."

I remove the hood and turn. "Pull back the curtain," the voice says. I follow the instructions and pull back the shower curtain revealing a dirty and naked young woman lying in the tub. She mumbles additional instructions to give her a pill (Tic Tac) from a pill bottle and a swig of water. The (Tic Tac) pill brings her back to life. She climbs out of the tub and corners me. Then she begins removing all of my clothes.

I'm standing naked in the bathroom with the dirty naked girl and notice the infrared camera on the ceiling.

Great... Video footage of me naked.

I'm starting to feel really creeped out and then the naked girl starts touching herself and it's ruined.

Watching another girl masturbate isn't scary. It just makes the bathroom smell like vagina.

I'm feeling underwhelmed by the bathroom/naked girl section when the bathroom door opens and I am led back into the bedroom. I am completely naked except for a pair of night vision goggles that have been placed on my head.

Still completely naked, I am ordered to sit in the hotel desk chair (and the germaphobe in me dies a little thinking of all the germs.) They mention something about a phone, but nothing happens and I can't find it. (I learned that other victims received a phone call and had to write their home address on a piece of paper.)

I am pulled up from the chair and the night vision goggles are removed. My captor demands that I lie face down on the 'X' on a sheet of plastic that now covers the floor beside the bed.

Instantly visions of Showtime's Dexter and a million horror movie scenarios run through my head. My brain calculates: Naked Body + Industrial Plastic = Dead.

I follow instructions and lay down on the sheet of plastic. Then I'm being rolled in the plastic like a big naked burrito. I have plastic over my head and I can't breathe. My head is lifted up and I am instructed to open my mouth and two fingers press through the plastic allowing me to breathe. Then there is a face very close to mine and it says in a hurried and intense way, "It's Never Over! You have exactly 60 seconds to get dressed and get the f*ck out of here."

I am released from the plastic and frantically grab my clothes, which are laid out on the bed. I dress as quickly as my arms will allow and stumble out the door clutching my socks in my hand. Then I make my way back onto the warm NYC street and try to wrap my head around what just happened.

Final Thoughts

I have really mixed feelings about this event. I really liked the interactive opening, but I could have done without the entire naked girl/bathroom section. I understand how that could be effective for male participants who are afraid of becoming aroused in front of a camera, but from a female perspective it was a bit boring. "Scary Vaginas" seem to be a recurring theme for Blackout and it's one that I would like to see them retire.

My favorite moments were lying on the bed in the dark and trying to determine whether there was someone else in the room (or if it was just my imagination) and then the claustrophobic dispay that answered the question. 

I am not a fan of being completely nude during my haunted house experiences, but I have to admit that there is something quite chilling about being naked and wrapped in plastic. Blackout Haunted House delivers another shocking 45 minutes that would make my mother cry. 

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