The wonderful season of Halloween — a time of masks and costumes, candy and children’s laughter, spooky decorations and haunted houses. There’s plenty of fun to be had, for the money, during this delightfully macabre season, especially in visiting haunted houses. At least, that’s the idea.
My husband and I visited a little venue that promised thrills and scares, billing itself as “Terror On 10th Street.”
After watching a video on NewsOK for this particular haunted house tour, hopes were not high, however. But in a sense of fairness, my husband and I went anyway. Even if it was as corny as it looked in the video, it might be fun, right?
Nope. We were greeted by an older woman dressed in pink from head to toe. Pink wig, pink shirt, pink skirt. Despite her bubblegum appearance, she purported to be some kind of creepy caretaker for the “old woman in the the house.” She asked if we’d ever visited the house before, then immediately broke character to make a bid to sell us Day-Glo orange shirts with the attraction’s logo and information. Well, all right. Merchandising is perfectly acceptable, though I might have suggested staying in character as more important than hawking the goods.
Back in character, we were led up the steps to a porch covered in every kind of Halloween kitsch known to mankind. In one of only two startling moments in the entire attraction, she let out a sudden banshee scream to “warn” the “old lady” that she had visitors coming. After a few lame jokes, the door opened, and we were ushered inside to sit and talk to the old lady.
And talk we did. This woman, who apparently found fear in the idea of slathered face cream and a geriatrics cane, gave us a running commentary on nothing much for about five minutes. On the one hand, she did an excellent job of mimicking the stereotypes associated with senility induced dementia. On the other hand, she led with an “I killed Santa” crack. And at least a third of her “speech” was blatant advertising for the various businesses on N.W. 10th Street.
After thoroughly convincing us that she was either deeply unhinged or on a terrible script (hint: it’s the second one) she led us through the rest of the house. What followed was a continuing ramble as we walked through the house, with pathetic moments of attempted creepy sprinkled throughout. The “scares” consisted of small children jumping out of unconcealed boltholes to scream “boo.” Literally, “boo.” One of the few non-child actors gave me the only other startle at some point on this tour, which barely amounted to a shiver.
At last, we approached the end of the tour. So far, nothing special, but the patter was starting to get a little unnerving, the strobes and various spooks were beginning to build up a modicum of tension. A big finish was obviously waiting in the wings for a cue. With a bit of timing, it could have been great.
This was the point the “old lady” chose to drop her character almost completely to tell us about Jesus. A 30-second sermon in a can, complete with platitudes and the lame Halloween-themed humor that had characterized the tour up to that point. Don’t get me wrong, a good hell house or a demon-themed haunted house would have segued into this great and I would have been impressed with the honesty or ingenuity respectively.
But it broke the whole thing, especially when before going on, she did completely drop her character to ask if her makeup was OK. The finale was, needless to say, utterly lost without a mood to back it up.
For anyone who doesn’t mind more product placement than a Michael Bay film, a script a third grade class would revolt rather than perform, scares that don’t, and a Jesus break before a pitiful finale, this is the place to take the kids. Cause the adults sure as heck aren’t going to get more than an eye roll out of the whole thing.
To contact Jeremy Cloud, email firstname.lastname@example.org.