On Thursday evening I ventured back to West Adams to take in “Delusion: His Crimson Queen” for the second time. It was my first haunt of the season — I went for the press preview — and now it bookends as the last.
I struggle to write about this show because I feel myself falling into superlatives. I’ve written several reviews now
, where I praise “Delusion” for being the high water mark of Los Angeles’ haunt scene.
There’s a lot to be said about what makes this show so great, and a lot to be said about going through it multiple times. Like a good movie, the first time presents you with a surprise and a delight around every corner. Repeated viewings allow you to delve into details: the progression of the story, how they stage their scares, the stunt work (which in itself puts the show into a class all its own) and the audio and visual cues that play such a vital role in “Delusion”. Etcetera, etcetera. The devil’s in the details.
More than that, though, last night simply seemed to have a magic all its own:
It was a cold December evening, at least by LA standards, and the tail end of 2016 — a difficult year by anyone’s measurements. So to head back to the mansion for one last show had a bittersweet quality to it.
I ran into Jackie Kreterfield, the show’s producer, and asked her how she was. She’s eyeballing the end of the season and is looking forward to a full night’s sleep, but didn’t seem to be burnt out by the show. If anything, she seemed more energized. I asked if there was much on-set drama. She smiled and said no. “We’ve all bonded,” she told me, and talked about how for their Halloween party they watched horror movies in the mansion’s living room and drank all night.
“Oh, must have been nice,” I half-joked with her, envying what it must be like to be a part of this show, rather than on the outside looking in.
, the audio and lighting designer, came up to say hello. I noted the projection playing on a loop in the window. A scene unfolded that had been in there during the press preview, and they told me that it had been cut for time.
They’ve edited a lot, Jackie told me, from the beginning of the run until now. The scene in the living room was creating a bottleneck for the tours, and it kept pushing back the start times.
My ticket was for the 10:15 show, and I didn’t wind up going in until 10:50, but last time it was a two hour wait before I got in, so I consider that progress.
And, they have a bar, so that helps.
Inside the bar I ran into Jon Braver
, resident crazy person of “Delusion’s” team. He announced over the walkie talkie’s that he was standing next to me and I was requesting some nipple clamps and testicle crushers ASAP. He gave me a boyish smirk and a hug and then told me he had to run.
Drink in hand I went up into the gazebo to wait to be called. As I stood there Lawrence Lewis and Devon Paulson, the creators of The ALONE Experience
, came over. They’d come to see the show as well.
We hugged and chatted, and when the Usher called my group to the entrance we promised to catch up soon.
While my group went in I noticed Rich Fox and Kris Curry, the husband and wife team behind “The Blackout Experiments
” documentary, leaving the show. I ran over to say hello to them before joining my group again (and getting razzed by The Usher for being “that guy”).
And away we went.
On repeat visits I love to watch the reactions of my fellow audience members. What’s it like the first time they see a vampire fly 20 feet in the air or crawl along the wall? What about when they’re asked to present their wrist to be sucked on?
And overall, since “Delusion” rewards repeat visits, I made sure to try to be in different places for the scenes. If I’d been grabbed and pulled into another room during my first visit I positioned myself differently this time. During the climax I made sure to be grabbed by the vampire brides and put into the coffin to see how the scene played out from a different angle. The answer is: it’s much scarier.
And in the end, after we survived the visit, I left with a big smile on my face.
Before heading home I chatted briefly with the other members of my group to see how they’d enjoyed the show. Everyone could only speak about “Delusion” in superlatives.
I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t.