Okay. Forget nearly all that you know about Christmas. Throw out the warm fuzzy feelings, toss the sugar cookies, and forget about a warm fire. If you are looking for a truly demented holiday, you need to look no further than The 17th Door’s Holiday Treasure Hunt of Absurdity, open this weekend. You will get gifts if you are good, you will see lights if you keep your eyes open, and you may even get to meet Santa. Although, you might be giving him the presents.
In a word, The 17th Door has created a Christmas overlay for their haunt that could be described as vile. We use that in the most positive sense of course. We happen to like horrible, arduous haunts that test the boundaries of good taste. The experience begins as you check in for a holiday visit to the Perpetuum Penitentiary, the new home to our scrappy heroine, Paula. It seems that her new cellmate, Santa Claus, has taken over the jail and set up a grueling treasure hunt course through the facility. With each room comes a new challenge. With each challenge met, groups collect prizes. At the end of the experience, visitors turn in their points for potential goodies.
This is not child’s play. Although, to be totally honest the trek through the jail resembles an episode of Double Dare at times. Guests are subjected to a host of horrid challenges in hopes of achieving a special prize. Without spoiling too much, on our trip we were shocked, made to crawl through a tunnel filled with ice cubes, we were covered in flour, and yours truly, volunteered to get their hair trimmed in the barber chair. (This scene was totally voluntary and I chose to let the talent trim a bit of my hair for the prize.)
Say what you will about The 17th Door and their approach to the haunt experience, but this was a hell of a lot of fun. While I personally find the room to room approach to scares a bit rhythmic, something feels vastly different with the addition of the scavenger hunt. The tone of the haunt is also vastly improved with the nasty playfulness of the engaging cast. Each room becomes worse and worse as our group endured challenge after challenge until the level of absurdity became hilarious.
There is also the stunning set design. The creative team behind The 17th Door knows production values and, once again, the set design and decoration are perfection. The everlasting path through the penitentiary is populated with stained walls, rusty pipes, dim lighting, and prop work that would make Chris Williams proud.
No, The 17th Door is not for everyone. The haunt can be considered extreme as the actors can touch you, they can ask you to eat or drink things (though you will not be forced) you will get wet, you will get dirty, you will need to bring a towel along to sit on your car seat for the ride home, but for those into getting down and dirty and laughing like a demented elf, The 17th Door’s Haunted Holiday Treasure Hunt of Absurdity is hard to beat.
Buy your tickets for this weekend here.