Oni and I visited the Haunt “Brighton Asylum: Infectious” on October 13th 2012. To say we were amazed by the quality of this haunt is an understatement.
First off, don’t be confused: The group that does this haunt also does another event in a different part of New Jersey called “Zombie Apocalypse: Doomsday 2012”. That haunt and this one are about 30 minutes distance from each other, and are 2 different styles of event. We did not go to the Zombie Apocalypse event, we didn’t have time.
With that out of the way, what exactly did we see at Brighton Asylum? Well, first off this haunt, as opposed to many in the tri-state area, does not take place at a farm. This event is entirely contained within a building, which appeared to be a former factory or other industrial warehouse (always a good start and adds to the creepy factor). One nice benefit of this is they have the ability to house their queue line inside if the weather is bad–a great idea that really shows they thought about their customers. On our date the weather was fine, so they kept the line outside, and had their scare actors out and menacing the queue. A creepy tricycle riding asylum clown, chainsaw maniac, and even a version of the slider style zombie (people who wear metal protections on their legs which allow them to run, and then slide across the ground to great scaring effect) were present.
Since we were invited as media, we received VIP passes, and were lead right into the haunt. Even so, if we had had to wait in the regular line, it looked like it was moving fairly well, and they had set up a LCD tv which showed a video loop on a zombie invasion to get people into the mood. The scare actors really did make things lively, and seemed well versed in how to interact with people in the line to keep them entertained.
First thing that was shown when entering the event was a mini “museum” of various horror movie props that are part of the collection of the haunt owners. Props from the Silent Hill movie, the new Wolf Man film, and various other classic and recent horror movies were present, with a guide to provide explanations and lead you around the area.
After this mini tour you are brought to the front of the haunt itself. Right off Oni and I were impressed: the front of the haunt was designed to look like the front of the asylum building–so a building front was built inside the building. That always shows a bit of extra thought and work, and starts things off with a great impression. (as opposed to simply having a door or other simple way of entering the event–you really get into the notion you are entering a new space and it sets the tone) While not entering the realm of Universal Studios, it was still very high quality for a haunt, and definitely was one of the best examples we’ve ever seen on this scale (i.e. by someone independent and not part of a huge multinational company / movie studio).
Now we entered the haunt. They were pulsing groups with a decent amount of time between, so we never ended up getting too close to the group ahead of us, and no one caught up to us. A few times we did slow down though, just to be sure. We tend to move fairly quickly through haunts, since we as veterans tend to know the situation with where scares will be coming. In this case though, they were doing some innovative stuff, and were not very predictable–which is a major positive.
One thing we really like about the indie haunt industry is how often they innovate and go “off script” for what is considered the norm for other events. In this case there was a really fun segment where you were stopped and made to sit on a couch to watch a “presentation”. The result of this was a great unexpected scare. In addition, the tired use of claustrophobia tunnels at other haunts was given a reason for their existence in this haunt, so it made sense for it’s inclusion and was a neat re-think of this idea.
They also used above netting (remember, this was built inside of a building) to bring the “roof” closer to you, to make it feel more enclosed as you walked through the haunt.
In all, the feel of this haunt is long. At a good haunt you start to get a feel of exhaustion–from being overwhelmed with scares and the unexpected. I was really approaching this during this haunt; the combo of fresh takes on scares, and really well trained scare actors.
The final scare of the event was neat, and really hit well–and is far from the typical “chainsaw guy runs you out” scenario most haunts fall back on.
Overall, we really liked this haunt, and would definitely suggest it. Total time from start to finish was in the 15-20 minute range, and could have been longer if we had proceeded slower than our normal pace.