I felt a bit bad that my last Halloween review skewed so negative. I don’t want to come off as some sort of cynic who can no longer be scared, or somebody who takes a condescending attitude toward all haunted attractions. Luckily, I can give you a very glowing – and possibly gushing – review of another haunted attraction. This is the interactive play, ‘Delusion: The Blood Rite‘ and this has quickly rocketed to the top of my all-time favorite attractions.
Nestled in a little corner near Downtown Los Angeles is a street lined with old Victorian mansions. Most are privately owned, but one stands out among the rest. Bathed in indirect light, this house holds the interactive horror play that is truly unlike anything you have ever experienced. ‘Delusion: The Blood Rite‘ is the passion project of stuntman Jon Braver, a man who loves all things Halloween. Funding the entire project on his own, Braver has written and directed something magical…and it’s of the darkest magic you can imagine. The play first premiered last year to rave reviews, and was called “The hottest ticket in LA” by NPR. After having seen it for myself, I can see why. This year, Neil Patrick Harris has joined as a co-producer (in case you were looking for a Whedon connection). What has been crafted here is a genuine one-of-a-kind experience. As a veteran of haunted attractions across the country, I can safely say to you that I have never encountered anything like this. It even got my own nerves of steel to falter more than once.
I realize that I’m being quite hyperbolic here, but to give too many specifics would be to ruin the surprise. So I’ll simply paraphrase what is readily available on the website and try to be vague about all the rest. As you enter, you are assigned to a group of 10-12 people and directed to the back of the mansion. Here they have set up a fantastic Victorian-style bar, all decked out in spooky decor, that serves their own unique cocktails like “Cozy Hot Death” and “Blood Type O.” I tried a “Grave Keeper’s Grog” myself, and it was pretty darn tasty. There is also a food truck that serves some tasty noshes and non-alcoholic beverages. In regular intervals, a woman will come through, calling for groups. When your group is called, that’s when the real fun begins.
Now, when they say that this is an “interactive” play, they’re not messing around. Most plays that call themselves interactive usually restrict themselves to paying some lip service to the audience and asking for some group consensus decisions. Not here. One by one, every person in your group will play some integral part to pushing the story further along. From having to take keys off of unconscious bodies to jumping into open graves to playing a deadly game of musical chairs, you are fully a part of the events unfolding around you.
This is the basic premise of the play. It is 1918, and you are a veteran who has just returned home from fighting in World War I. Upon arriving, you have felt pulled to this specific house. Answering the call, you begin to uncover the mystery of what happened there. The house once belonged to a Dr. Frederick Lowell, a madman who conducted gruesome experiments to usher in a new stage of human evolution. The house is still populated by his former patients who all possess different supernatural abilities. Your arrival is the key to the final breakthrough, as you realize that you are far more intertwined in Lowell’s work than you ever knew. I wish I could say more, but it would give too much away.
The production values in this show are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Using a combination of wire work and very specifically directed lighting and shadows, you are treated to sights of people flying and crawling on walls and the ceiling. Objects fly around seemingly unaided. With expert pacing, the tension ramps up higher and higher until you are literally running through corridors while crazed patients come at you from all (and I do mean all) angles. You are made such a part of the action that I think most people will find themselves actually starting to embody the roles placed on them. It’s an immersive experience unlike anything I’ve ever seen. When it comes to horror, I’m the kind of person who enjoys atmosphere a lot more than simple gore and things jumping out at you, and ‘Delusion: The Blood Rite’ has atmosphere to spare.
Because audiences only go through a dozen at a time, tickets tend to sell out very fast. Tickets go for about $45, and while I consider it to be worth every penny, the more frugal among you might want to check out sites like Goldstar for discounts. These will go even faster, so if you’re at all intrigued by this, don’t hesitate to pick up a ticket and experience it for yourself. You won’t regret it. As for me, I’m hoping to visit it again, and perhaps a few more times, before its run ends on November 10th.
Update: All discount tickets on Goldstar are sold out for the entire run.