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Blackout Haunted House (Review) (NYC Haunted House 2011)

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There was once a boxer from Brooklyn who started making waves in the sport. At first, people would hear whispers and first hand accounts of a kid with a serious punch who was knocking the shit out of his opponents. Nobody knew if this kid actually existed but then he got some exposure and the knockouts kept coming. He soon became the world heavyweight champion.

He didn't come out to any fancy ring music. He didn't wear a robe but instead wore plain black trunks and plain black socks and sneakers. You knew what you were going to see when he stepped into the ring. You were going to see the most intimidating man on the fuckin planet and a scared shitless opponent. When the fight started, there were hits you didn't see coming, punches that came out of nowhere and a knockout that brought you to your feet. This poor opponent didn't stand a chance and was left beatened, downtrodden and utterly stunned by what had happened.

That's the best way to metaphorically describe Blackout Haunted House, bar none the best haunted house in NYC. It's like stepping into the ring with an in his prime Iron Mike Tyson and though you know you're gonna get the crap kicked out of you, you'll live to tell about it. What's more awesome than that?

Having attended last year (see review here and walkthrough here) and the Spring edition (see review here) I am truly proud to be part of "The Survivors Club", a group of 20 or so strong men and women who have become hardened veterans of Vortex Theater's Haunted House. These select few who went through the May "invite only" have experienced the most extreme trauma they've ever paid for. I think some have not spoken about it since that day (well except for me). But even as a survivor, I was still a little nervous of what was to come. I had a gut feeling Josh Randall and Kris Thor, the minds behind this fringe experiment in terror, would up the ante and go over and I mean way over the edge of their previous installments. And they totally freakin do.

Blackout is their best version yet. It's like being a star in a living, breathing torture porn horror movie. You're the final girl (or guy). You meet the characters of Blackout, interact with them and even push the story to its final conclusion. But make no mistake, it's not going to be an easy journey.





But as all final girls/guys do, you're going to survive. It's the most gratifying feeling you will ever get. Being a survivor of Blackout Haunted House is a graduation from your most dreaded fears be it sexual depravity, germ warfare, Abu Gharab torture, claustrophobia and the eerie quiet of pitch black darkness. Blackout has conjured up a class in each of these and the only way you actually FAIL is by screaming the word: SAFETY. And as far as I know, they've gotten a ton of failing students.

I however got an A+ and never uttered the word. But the experience was still as frightening as ever. It seems, unknown to me, Josh had personalized my walkthrough. Characters were uttering MY NAME as they leveled me with trauma. That really hit hard for me and made it 10 times more intimidating. As much as it was a treat for me, it's not standard treatment so don't expect you'll be hearing your name in the darkness.

I'm not going to give a walkthrough and spoilers until after Halloween. So if you came here to read a step by step guide, move along this isn't the review you're looking for. But I will tell you that Blackout is 100 times better than it was last year and more terrifying than the Spring version. You will have to go through it alone and you are equipped with a protective mask and a flashlight and all the rules will come into play. You will be touched, pushed and shoved like a protester at Occupy Wall Street (but without the baton beatings and pepper spray attacks). It's this level of physicality that separates itself from all other haunted houses. Expect's gonna happen and it's gonna freak you out.

Blackout is NYC Halloween Haunted House on Grade A steroids. The performances by the actors are stellar and frightening. The crew is more volatile and unyielding. The sets and rooms and backdrops are beautifully crafted and convey a filth and deterioration of utter despair and hopelessness. As you go from room to room, you slowly fall apart. I started very aware and was mentally preparing myself for what was to come. Rooms with high tech jeepers creepers bring the creepy. As you move on to total darkness, your eyes shut down and your other senses get heightened. I even began to get some sort of Spider Sense. As I sat in a room, possibly all alone? shining a pathetic flashlight on any thing I sensed was getting too spider sense started tingling.

Then BOOM! here comes the torturous depravity and by the time that's ended I'm completely disoriented and in the midst of my panic I don't hear an order to walk down some stairs and I'm stumbling into rooms I've already been in and being pointed towards the way out. But it continues and continues and you have to keep trudging along knowing in the back of your mind there is an end to this madness.

My one gripe I always had with previous installments is that there was limited interaction with the characters. But that has all changed this year. I played the part of final hero guy and I played it well. You'll have to do actions when told to and some of these will make you gag and squirm. I even hesitated at times but I knew that in order to keep going I HAD TO DO IT. These new little quirks in the experience amplified the overall experience. You really do feel like your playing a part in a sadistic horror story that you've accidentally stumbled upon. And you don't even have to wait to get to the good parts. You're thrown right into the ending.

And it's an ending you won't forget.

Blackout Haunted House is the haunted house other haunted houses are afraid of. It may lack the glitzy blockbuster sets, tech and visuals of it's competition. It may not be artistic or thematic or have a catchy premise. But it is the best haunted house in NYC. It's pure blacked out storefront oozes of intimidation. Once you walk through the doors, you enter their ring.

Prepare to be knocked out.

The Vitals
Check out the trailer!


Here is my walkthrough and spoiler review of Blackout Haunted House!

Did you survive Blackout Haunted House? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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