Friday, October 16, 2015
This past weekend, I went the Asylum Haunted House here in Denver. Haunted houses aren't a "must do every Halloween" sort of thing for me, but I do generally enjoy them and try to hit one up every two or three years. One of the reasons I'm not more diligent about it is that so many haunted houses are duds. Not Asylum, not this year. Of course, haunted houses are always more about startles than genuine scares. But to me, the cleverness is even more important. What's the layout like? Does your path from room to room give you a good ebb and flow of tension? Are there particularly memorable rooms? Asylum excels in all of this.
I'm reluctant to say too much for people who might go in the weekends ahead. But to give you some motivation to do so, I'll mention a few highlights. The experience opens with a contained little "locked room" puzzle, where you have to figure out how to escape. It then takes you through an effective and highly disorienting introduction into the "house proper." There's an especially cool "swamp" area built with fog, lasers, and inflatable air bags. There are two excellent sections built on Dutch angles. There's a dark and creepy cave-like chamber filled with uneven columns you have to force your way through (and you're not alone in there). And lots, lots more.
There are several fun characters inside the actual "Asylum" portion of the house. Performers are screaming their heads off, somehow for hours on end, all in good fun. There's plenty of great make-up, including a particularly great character in a full body look that blends in with the background of his room. Even some of the haunted house tropes (a chainsaw wielder, "please help me" victims waiting to die) get a jolt of life from people throwing themselves into the part.
And perhaps best of all, it's big! Our group darted through the house faster than we really should have for maximum enjoyment, but it still took at least 20 minutes to see it all. Do it right, and you could probably get a half hour out of it, which is a lot for a haunted house.
So the bottom line is, if you love Halloween and you live in Denver, you owe it to yourself to go check this place out. (Particularly in contrast to other houses in the area, which I've heard are far less fun this year.) The Asylum is spook-tacular!