If there’s one word that perfectly encapsulates what Motel 6 Feet Under is, it’s classic. With the obsession with pushing the envelope in terms of scares and subject matter we’ve seen from some of the newer crop of indie haunters, it represents a breath of fresh air that managed to get some solid scares out of this jaded veteran, while still managing to create an experience that is fun and appropriate for older kids and teens. Don’t let this give you the impression that means the experience was cheap or hokey; on the contrary, I couldn’t help but marvel at the sort of props they were able to achieve on a budget that has to be a fraction of what some of other large-scale haunts are working with. In fact, Motel 6 Feet Under is a non-profit program of “BOO!”, which stands for Building Occupational Opportunities, and 100% of proceeds go to providing job training and opportunities to under-served adults. It always puts a smile on my face when haunts and other horror-based organizations buck off this concept that horror fans are gore-obsessed weirdos and use horror as a means to bring people together and benefit the community. Not that we aren’t gore-obsessed weirdos, but hopefully this helps remind the naysayers that our hearts are in the right place, even if that place is bleeding out on a pile of charred corpses.
The aesthetic is rather simple, but effective, with thrift store finds strewn lovingly with cobwebs, perfectly capturing the feel of an old, abandoned motel. Motel 6 Feet Under is centered around the story of Mabel, a young girl who came to stay at the motel but found herself unable to age or leave. Now this wrathful child calls the shots, and no one gets in or out without her permission; and at this motel you can check out any time you like, but good luck leaving. The other patrons of the motel, the lost souls trapped by Mabel’s need for playmates, include Otis the elevator operator; Victor, Mabel’s own personal clown; Bones, the maintenance man; and Agnes, the maid. Agnes has clearly let the place fall into disrepair, but Mabel keeps her around because she was never very fond of cleaning her room either, though she’s been banished to the depths, presumably for being a poor playmate. Each of these characters has their own personality, and the masks and makeup are more than enough to make you not want to encounter them in a dark room.
Unfortunately for you, the motel hasn’t paid its electric bill in some time, and you will often find yourself wandering aimlessly through the darkness, an ideal mark for the actors that lie in wait around every corner. In addition to providing a classic haunt experience, Motel 6 Feet Under is also a maze in the purest sense of the word, with looping corridors and misdirection that makes what is already a fairly space seem like it goes on forever. I managed to keep my wits about me (most of the time) but those with a weaker constitution may find that a panic sets in as you begin to wonder if you will ever escape, or if the whole thing really is haunted and you are the pathetic fool that agreed to join Mabel’s tight-knit group of forever friends.
While the majority of the set pieces simply fade into the ambience of the scene, it’s clear where the money has gone. They politely asked I leave some of the major showpieces to your imagination, but sufficed to say there were a number of complex animatronics and cleverly-engineered props that both terrified me and made me marvel at just what they’re managed to achieve with an experience entirely funded by sponsors and donors. From the cobwebs to the black light paintings that adorn the walls, Motel 6 Feet Under hearkens back to the classic haunts of yesteryear, but does so with style and personality, and would make for an ideal haunt to bring the family to once the kids graduate from Mickey’s Halloween Party.
Please visit their website for more information or to purchase tickets. Ticket costs vary wildly from the $10 general admission to the $100 backstage walk-on, but they offer a variety of fun perks and it’s all for a good cause. In addition to their philanthropic efforts, they are also running a special promotion on October 9th where military and first-responders will be given two free tickets to the event.