Prepare to be scared
As I walked the wooden halls of the Gateway’s Haunted Playhouse, a seemingly familiar voice caught my attention — probably because it was speaking my name. I heard an eerie “Glenn” drawn out for dramatic effect, and even some variances like “Glenny-boy” or “Hi Glenn.”
“Who are you?” I shouted at the man dressed in ragged clothes, separated by a broken-down fence but just mere inches from my face. Was this someone from my high school? One of my friends altered to be unrecognizable? I was forced to let it go and continue my quest through the haunted back alleys of The Gateway. I later found out that the performer had asked my name from one of my friends at the front of my group of six, and used that information to make my experience a little more personal.
This is just one of many examples of how this haunted house is like no other. In true Gateway fashion, it was really a performance — a play taken from the 2D space of the stage and spread out over the entire facility, expanded to 3D and 4D.
For 10 years, the haunted house has been a staple of the theater’s repertoire, each year changing, adapting and growing. This year was no different, except the 10th anniversary allowed creators to bring back some old characters and themes and meld them into something unique. The official story is: A Gateway tinkerer has created a time machine to go into the past, but when things malfunction, everyone is transported into a crazy dimension that is home to a lot of the characters from the past 10 years.
As “horror” is not a genre of entertainment I generally subscribe to, it took me a bit more time than I’m willing to admit to enter the haunted house. But upon entering, it was already clear that I would be in for a mind-melding experience. The story doesn’t rely on just shock or jump-scares, but a real story line that could be plucked right from a horror film. Characters — over 100 in total — lined the narrow pathway up and down the theater, which wasn’t recognizable from inside the route. Some of them were behind doors or fences, pleading to break free. Others were standing in corners, waiting to get a good look as you passed. Not too long into our journey, I was comforted to be in the back of the group, when around one corner I heard my friend — our leader — scream.
The production at Gateway is second to none. There are thousands of small details that make the experience more lifelike. Each character was specially crafted and fit perfectly into their respective scenes. The set was created with special details and movements, allowing for hideaways, secret openings for the actors. My adrenaline level was on high for the entire 40-minute walk-through, but it was worth the end relief of reaching the final destination.
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