It’s not Halloween season yet, but I think I just went through a really creepy haunted house.

Well, it’s not exactly a haunted house. But it certainly isn’t your typical play either.

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre in North Hollywood’s latest original production, “Brave The Dark,” sends guest wandering through the black box theater with the lights out–completely out. The show runs every Friday and Saturday night through July 23, with showtimes every twenty minutes from 11 to 12:20.

If you’re familiar with Zombie Joe’s signature horror show, “Urban Death”—or similar incarnations that have been produced at the theater such as “Blood Ally”—you have a sense of what you’re in store for when entering the dark theater. The scenes encountered are similar in nature to the stylized vignettes of “Urban Death.” In fact, one of my first thoughts upon exiting was that I had just experienced an immersive version of “Urban Death”—instead of sitting in a theater viewing horrific scenes, I was walking directly into them. That said, this show has certainly set itself apart from the former with its own style and language.

Brave the dark featured immersive horror.

Brave the dark featured immersive horror.

Don’t go in expecting a traditional narrative. The scenes in “Brave The Dark” are more like explorations of anxieties and emotions. In some moments you feel as if you are paying witness to the events happening around you, in others you are being directly addressed. Overall the show is a morbidly intriguing examination into feelings, thoughts and actions that we tend to figuratively (and now in this show, literally) keep in the dark, hidden, obscured from public view. Like most Zombie Joe’s productions, director Zombie Joe and his cast are not afraid to shock us, creep us out and “go there” when exploring the darker sides of human nature.

The show begins with the audience in blindfolds, enveloping them in darkness before they step foot into the dark rooms of the theater itself. And this tour takes the audience through the entirety of the theater—seeming to leave no crevice of the building unexplored, and upon re-entering a room guests are likely to find themselves in a completely different scene from the last one they had found there.

Another shot from Brave the dark

Another shot from Brave the dark

And in all of this darkness (again, literal and figurative), the use of light to guide the audience and highlight specific moments and actors is often a particularly strong effect. Lights flicker, dance, fade in and out, obscuring your view of the events throughout the experience. One moment in particular highlights the actors as well as the music with its clever use of lighting effects. It’s minimalistic and effective and serves the show well.

Similar to a haunted house, this tour is somewhat guided, leading the audience from one area to the next and showing them various disturbing, dimly-lit horrors. But unlike the usual haunted house, this production emphasizes its emotional impact and unsettling concepts more than jump scares or scenery. It’s a fascinating, surreal slice of Halloween fun in the middle of summer.

Tickets are available here.


About the Author: Anna Mavromati

Anna Mavromati used to watch episodes of Nickelodeon's "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" from behind the living room couch as a kid, beginning a lifelong, enigmatic obsession with everything that scares her. She lives in L.A. County where she writes and teaches English at community colleges. She earned both her BA in journalism and MFA in creative writing from Cal State Long Beach. In her spare time she likes to wander down dark hallways alone, waiting for strangers to pounce.
By Published On: July 12, 2016Categories: Reviews, TheatreComments Off on Brave The Dark at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre a Waking NightmareTags: , ,