What’s creepier than the monsters, the haunted houses, the creatures that stalk the darkness? Well CreepLA believes the answer is the terrible things that real human beings do to other real human beings. And building upon this fear, CreepLA has created an inventive and immersive haunt. Although it isn’t all gritty realism—no, CreepLA truly finds its niche through its superb use of nostalgic horror, mischievous playfulness, and creepy actors.
CreepLA opened its doors October 2nd to a sold out first weekend. For a first year haunt, this proves that there is already a steady buzz around this haunt. So we were intrigued when we were invited down to meet the Creeps.
We arrived to their location: a supposedly haunted warehouse in the arts district of downtown Los Angeles. We formed a group of six—our Editor Norman Gidney, Jon Schnitzer from Haunters The Movie, Camilla Jackson of Fangoria, Taylor Thorne, and myself. After signing a waiver, we were escorted to a small waiting area—and instructed to sit in a very specific order. Then out of the darkness, a well-dressed man in a purge-like mask emerged. He walked by us, inspected us, studied us—and then pointed at Norman and beckoned him to follow him into the darkness.
The man returned and began to study us again—looking for his next victim. Yet this time, he pointed to all of us and we followed him. We passed a small corridor where a disembodied voice called to us from darkness. The rest of the group continued to follow our guide, but I, being the curious type, followed the voice instead. I approached where it was coming from, and pulled back a closed curtain only to hear “Don’t you dare come in to my house! GET OUT! GET OUT!” screamed back into my face. Startled, I quickly turned around only to find our well-dressed guide grab me by the shoulders and push me towards the door the rest of my group had entered. Already, I was excited and intrigued by the non-linearity of the haunt!
The room I had entered was clearly decorated as a teenage girl’s room. As I was late, I quickly found my place against the wall. The guide then turned off the light and closed the door, leaving us in pitch blackness. A voice called out to us to remember the safe word (which was “Choke”), to not touch the actors (but they can touch us, it’s their favorite part), and that Creep can be defined as “to move slowly with the body close to the ground” (but they prefer the definition of “a strange person who you strongly dislike”).
The light is then turned back on revealing two teenage girls in catholic school girl outfits. One lies on the bed while the other sits at a small desk playing on her phone. The scene resembled that of the opening of The Ring and would have fit perfectly in any 90’s horror movie.
“Bitch, have you ever even played Bloody Mary?”
This starts an involved conversation that discusses the likes of Slenderman, hashtags, and Bloody Mary–but, ultimately sends the girls out of the room to play. Left alone, we decide to follow them out, and find ourselves on the opposite side of the mirror as they say Bloody Mary three times. Now I won’t spoil what happens next, but let’s just say this is where the haunt really starts. And this is only the first five minutes discussed of roughly a 30 minute haunt.
This initial scene also highlights where CreepLA excels: its actors. The girls were superb actors and set the scene for the rest of the haunt. The dialogue did not sound campy or forced; it sounds like a normal conversation between two girls. Interestingly, this scene is also the only scene that is passively watched; the remainder of the haunt immerses you in the action. You must help those victimized and hide from those who seek you. Some of the most memorable moments come from these interactions. One notable instance was meeting a man trapped in a dreamlike room who exclaimed that no one ever played with him. We engaged him, and ended up playing ring-around-the-rosie with him, and he seemed so happy when we were done—especially when we all fell down.
A second standout section had each group split into groups of 2. Each group had a different character to entertain them. Jon and I’s creep asked us some personal questions, then took my glasses from eyes and began wearing them. She began telling us a story about her best friend Jennifer, and as the story continued, it got creepier and creepier, keeping us entranced the whole time. She moved around like a child during her story, very animated and excited, and ended up sitting on Jon’s lap for the end of the story. This invasion of personal space was very fun and increased the creep-factor. Further, this room highlights the repeatability of CreepLA. After completing it, I wanted to jump back in to see what stories the other creeps had to tell.
Unlike some other haunts, CreepLA does not maintain a cohesive storyline. But what it does is perfectly created a mood that makes you uneasy about each person you meet in the haunt. The actors, even the friendly ones, seem a bit off–like they could snap at any moment. In combination with the acting, the set design further defines this mood. Each room is carefully crafted to keep you uneasy, nervous, disoriented. There is heavy use of darkness, strobes, and fogs to help keep you disoriented. Further, you are forced to crawl (CreepLA is nice enough to always keep the ground cushioned in these sections), run, and hide on occasion. The hiding is a simple addition that was completely novel to me in a haunt setting.
In place of a story, CreepLA has carefully sculpted small vignettes in each sections–each highlighting a different level or aspect of creepiness. Some are disorienting, some are intense, some are scary, and some are just downright fun. However, the theme of “creepy” does not always maintain a clear and consistent linkage across all rooms, and in a few occasions the section felt disjointed and random (which again, may not be a bad thing if it adds to your disorientation). Providing a character or two that appear throughout would help improve the flow and consistency across the rooms and would vastly improve the overall cohesiveness of the haunt. Yet, this is a small detraction to an overall beautiful homage to horror, child-like playfulness, and creepy people.
For those wanting a fun, interactive haunt that completely immerses you, CreepLA is perfect for you. Despite the imagery on it’s instagram, it does not focus on the gritty, hyper-realistic side of horror, but rather a mischievous playfulness with a layer of uneasiness that slowly creeps up on you. The rooms are dreamlike and varied to the point that ideas feel fresh and never feels repetitive. The set design definitely makes you feel uneasy, and the acting and interaction with the creeps is the standout of the haunt. Finally, the possibility of dealing with different actors on subsequent visits make this haunt ready for repeat customers. Join CreepLA and let it’s unique brand of horror creep up on you! CreepLA is here to stay!