1525 South 8th Street
St. Louis, MO
Touted as “America’s Best Haunted House,” The Darkness has been on our list of must see attractions for quite some time. This juggernaut of the haunt industry first entered the scene in 1994 and has since dominated the genre by expanding into manufacturing and distribution of their haunt sets and props. They’re also responsible for the Transworld’s Halloween and Attractions Show and produce and distribute HauntWorld magazine. This self-proclaimed “King of Scream” is located in downtown St. Louis, and includes three attractions. Darkness Haunted House is a massive two-story traditional walkthrough haunt filled with Hollywood style props and sets, state of the art animatronics and professional lighting design. In Terror Visions 3D you’ll experience a slew of maniacal clowns, including an Ice Scream Truck and a surprising Jack in the box. The haunts exits into The Monster Museum and gift shop, which is filled with replicas monsters from numerous feature films such as the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Alien and Predator.
Is It Scary
According to their Official Website: “The Darkness is not like any other haunted house you’ve ever experienced. Because of its national reputation, the creative team behind this St. Louis haunted house believe they must go above and beyond what any other haunt across the nation can do. The Darkness continues to set the standard across the World for what a premiere haunted attraction should be modeled after.”
The Raven and Black Cat says: “Visiting The Darkness is like walking into a museum of mayhem and horror. No phobia is overlooked in this massive walk-though haunt, filled with Hollywood quality sets, detailed costumes and realistic props. The Darkness is a scenic designers dream come true and the faint of heart’s worst nightmare.”
What We Loved
There are so many awe-inspiring, innovative elements to The Darkness that there’s a lot to love. From the moment you step into queue, you’re surrounded by waterfalls, an alligator infested moat, a giant cobra – it feels like a twisted version of a Disney ride in the most horrifically delightful way. Every set piece and prop is realistic and no detail is overlooked. The lighting is impeccable and effectively draws your attention to the focus of each room. Every possible theme is explored and chock full of Hollywood quality sets and effects. My favorite animatronic is the Outbreak inspired caged monkeys. They’re truly disturbing, and a nice change from the typical zombie outbreak. I found the hallways of broken pipes particularly fun and surprising with its foggy mist and air cannons. The Darkness has many creative effects, and has mastered the art of unsure footing – one room tilts from side to side as you walk over the floor, a drawbridge drops from under your feet and as you climb into the ‘Ice Scream Truck’, the vehicle rumbles and bumps along with the video footage to create an incredibly terrifying ride.
What Could Be Better
This is a really long haunt. By the time you’re halfway through, you’ve almost forgotten what happened in the first few rooms. As a haunted house enthusiast and connoisseur, I can appreciate the amount of money that has been spent to develop the effects, animatronics and sets. It’s not surprising that they’re the dominating manufacturing in the horror world, but it’s just a little gratuitous. The event is so over produced that you find yourself studying the sets instead of experiencing the haunt as it was intended. There are surprisingly few actors in the haunt – many rooms solely rely on animatronics and all of the actors choose a startle scare method. Despite the effectiveness of the startle scares, after the first 15 minutes the scares were too predictable and in need of variation.
The Darkness creative team has spent so much time and money building the framework for a haunted masterpiece – it would be incredible if the characters and script were developed with the same attention to detail. Create variations in volume and tone of voice. Use actors as living set pieces to breathe life into the scenery. I don’t understand why haunts are still enthralled with 3D attractions, but if you’re going to have a 3D section that is that long (way too long in my biased opinion) you need to invest in plastic glasses that don’t fall off your face and fit over your four-eyed fans glasses.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in state of the art scenic design then The Darkness is the perfect haunt for you. If you can’t get enough of those special effects, there’s more where that came from – be sure to check out their other haunts: The Haunting of Lemp and Creepyworld.
The Darkness 2012 Season
October 12 – November 3
General Admission: $23.00 | Speedpass Admission: $30.00
Children 10 & Under: $20.00
No age requirements are specified.