Event Review: A+
We've been searching the labyrinthine, gothic Fitzgerald Manor for some time now for the elusive and powerful author Elena Fitzgerald. The eldritch horrors of her classic novels have escaped the page and have taken over her mansion, terrifying and tormenting us and a few of her other obsessed fans that hide within the walls of this estate. We hope to find Elena because maybe, just maybe she can end all this and show us a way out.
We've already dodged death several times and seen many horrors great and small by the time we've hidden in the secret chamber behind the fireplace. Small windows allow us to see the monster that has trapped us in here. Our guide until this point, Ruth, has concocted an invisibility potion, and asks for a volunteer to use it to distract the monster so we could make an escape. An old friend of mine, Ashley, volunteers and accepts the potion, sneaking back into the monster's room, through a pair of double doors, and distracts the monster away.
We exit our hidden chamber and go through the double doors, looking to congratulate Ashley for her bravery.
Instead we find her strung up in the next room like a marionette at the head of a dinner table. Her face has been crudely painted and her arms are bound. The room is full of crude and not-so-crude dummies. Ashley warns us that we can't free her, that the monster who did this would return soon.
She wasn't wrong. Ruth directs us to hide beneath the table as Marion, the classic villain from one of Elena's novels, stalks through the room. A massive puppet of a man with impossibly long legs, he stalks around us for a moment before fixing the skipping record player, then exiting the room. We need to save Ashley, that much is clear, but if we free her too quickly, Marion will return. Looking at one of the room's larger dummies, I get an idea so crazy it might work...
Delusion: Lies Within is the fourth entry in L.A.'s best ongoing Halloween event, and continues to top the bar in interactive horror theatre. Unlike most Halloween fare (which I also love, don't get me wrong) Delusion isn't about cheap scares and blood running down the walls (though both could be found in their proper doses within the manor), It is an immersive, interactive experience that feels much like walking through an honest to god gothic horror movie. Instead of being mere viewers, everyone in your group becomes involved in the action, be it through volunteering for heroic deeds or being dragged off by one of the show's many horrors or heroes.
Four of us went as a group (myself, Fiona, my friend Ashley and her boyfriend Patrick), and all of us were roped into the story at one time or another. Fiona got to read a secret message on a typewriter in between flashes of lightning. Patrick was forced to act as a conduit for Elena's spirit. Ashley and I got to watch a character's transformation through a very awkward one-way mirror. I crawled through a room bisected by multiple, massive spider-webs that if touched would summon a spider-monster (and god help you when you do summon him because a guy crawling across the ceiling after you then jumping down is about as effing scary as it gets). At one point, we were all locked in a room full of scorpions (in glass cages, but still) as a mad scientist began pumping in flesh-melting gas...
Like I said, it's a different kind of Halloween event. It's creepy and fun and utterly brilliant, with impeccable set design inside a genuine hundred year old L.A. mansion, stellar makeup effects and some of the creepiest damn special effects you're going to see at any Halloween event ever. As long as they run this show, Fi and I (and probably Ashley and Patrick) will be there, and should the opportunity come up to attend, for the love of god grab yourselves some tickets.
Trust me, this is an experience you will never forget.
Notes if You're Interested in Attending:
Tickets for this show have already sold out this year, however should you already have tickets or should some become available to you, here are some tips that Fi and I have learned that we want to pass along.
- Fortune favors the bold. While you can get one hell of a scary time just standing around watching the whole show unfold, the real fun of this one comes from taking part in the experience. If you want to take part, raise your hand whenever volunteers are asked for, or jump in if they ask to jump in. When you're in a group, try to make your way to the front as much as possible and you'll stand a higher chance of being volunteered. While everyone will be involved in some way, these increase your chances of a truly unique experience.
- Arrive early! Arrive at least half an hour early to ensure decent parking (they have an onsite parking lot this year, which is a great improvement over last years parking troubles) and enjoy warm drinks, ambiance and some hints of the story ahead in their lounge area.
- Play your part. They say early on not to talk unless you're spoken to, and while this is looser than the guide will lead you to believe, do your best to play along with the show. You don't have to go full period in character, but nothing breaks the illusion quite like some loudmouth laughing and making jokes. It's disrespectful to not only the others in your group, but the actors and production crew who put on this amazing show. Keep the jokes for after the show, and let the story take you in. You'll have a lot more fun. (And for the love of god when they say don't sit on anything, DON'T SIT ON ANYTHING!)
- Heed the waiver you sign up front. This is a physically demanding show involving a lot of climbing, crawling and moving quickly at a moment's notice. You will probably end the night a bit dinged up. I have attended this show three times and always come out of it a little hurt in one way or another. Don't get angry at the show people, just accept that it's part of a physically demanding and awesome experience.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Can't stress that enough.