Art is meant to be disruptive. You’re supposed to look at a piece of artwork and be moved by it, to feel something within yourself. It should force you to think, reflect inward, and see the world in a new light. Art is beautiful. It’s living. It’s yours.
HAUS OF CREEP is a work of art. There is no doubt about that, as it is beautifully constructed and disruptive to the world of immersive theater. To this reviewer, it’s their best show yet.
Coming into their fifth year of Halloween offerings, JFI Productions had a lot of to live up to. They have constantly reinvented themselves over the years, not just with their CREEP LA shows, but also their other events such as THE WILLOWS and their entertainment activations.
But with HAUS OF CREEP, things are different. No longer are guests on “tracks”, following a particular storyline from start to finish. Instead, they are set loose upon an open world, similar to video games such as GONE HOME and WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH. Guests are welcome to explore and choose their own path, seeing what stories they can uncover and what secrets lurk beneath the surface. Part of the reason I like the work of JFI Productions so much is that they are never content with doing the same thing, over and over again. They like to try different things, reinvent themselves, and that is exactly what they did with HAUS.
Set against the backdrop of an art installation, it set out to parody some of those Instagram museums that have popped up all over the country. However, unlike the Museum of Ice Cream, HAUS OF CREEP’s installations were far and beyond anything I have ever seen, and surpassed in quality that which they set out to mock.
Before the show even began, we were introduced into the world during the check-in process, as various people made their presence known in the group; the young man recently in from England, solely so he could see this installation, the art critic from the Chicago Tribune, the Instagram influencer who was live-streaming the entire time. Among them were also people who worked for The Company, the nebulous corporation who was sponsoring the art show, as they ran around to get everyone into small groups before moving them inside. Watching these characters play off each other, while also talking to us, helped set the tone for what we were getting ourselves into.
Once inside the space, the show truly comes alive, as we were set lose to explore the works of art. And works of art there are plenty of; from relics of CREEP’s past shows, to actual art installations, to living art. I was groped by a wall of hands, I watched as a dancer performed on stage, I peeked into peep holes to see…things I can’t even begin to explain. Once the centerpiece of the art is revealed during a show moment, we were allowed to explore the back half of the room, where more living art installations were located. Though taking photos is not allowed, I will say that I loved how they integrated those famous CREEP LA photo booths into the show itself, so don’t worry, you will be able to post those fabulous photos after the fact.
It’s hard to describe what I saw and what went on at this show to a certain extent because I do not want to give away any of its secrets or story points. It’s so densely packed with moments waiting to be explored that it is literally impossible to see them all in one go. However, what you can see during your time within, slowly revealing itself before you, is a spectacular feat of storytelling.
As I wandered around, I spent a fair amount of time with some of the creeps lurking within. It is such a shame I was unable to speak and explore what they all had to offer, but the ones I DID talk to showed me such wonderfully creepy things.
Matt Vorce’s voyeuristic artist unnerved me as he told me his story, as he sexually suggestively played with an old video camera. His obsession with “Stacey” lead to him taking a token of sorts from me. It was creepy as hell, and Vorce’s performance made my skin crawl. It really showcased his talents as an actor, and that scene is going to stick with me for a long, long time.
Sophie Cooper’s Instagram influencer was also fantastic, as she was one of the very first characters I encountered outside. She played he role as a self-obsessed millennial to perfection, and interacting with her over the course of the evening, seeing how she was changed by the art, was masterful. Hell, even after the show was OVER, her character continued to evolve as she chatted with us in the gift shop.
Clarissa Hawkins, as played by Misha Reeves, was the curator of the HAUS, and gave me some personalized tours in an excellent performance. She led me toward exhibits she thought I would enjoy most, while also questioning how much art meant to me. She asked me if there was anything there I would die for tonight, and when I told her not yet, she wanted to make sure to change my mind. Her devotion to The Company was apparent, and like a puppet master pulling the strings, she was there to make sure it all ran smoothly.
Speaking of puppet masters, Kylee Thurman’s scene was a bizarre yet welcome addition to the show. Her interactions with Mr. Boppo (which has to be seen to be believed) were a delight, and her maniac pixie energy was just the right amount of off-the-wall liveliness to be discomforting.
I only spent a brief scene with Stephanie Turek’s dancer, but it was quite unsettling as well. Her suggestive dancing did match the story she told me, creating such a weird and uncomfortable scene. This was yet another scene that will stick with me, as her character really made me feel for her, it nearly broke my heart.
Rosay, one of the featured artists, was among the crowd as well. Interacting with her throughout the evening was a treat. Portrayed by Joshua Rivas, Rosay started as such a gossip queen that I was instantly taken to her. During the grand reveal at the front of the show, she stood behind me, whispering snide remarks and commentary that I couldn’t help but laugh. But as the night went on, her darker side was revealed, and Rivas’ performance was pitch-perfect. Hearing the origin of the HAUS OF CREEP from Rosay in a secret back room toward the end of the show, while the sounds of madness played just outside, was unsettling as hell.
I wish I could talk about the rest of the cast in depth, but unfortunately my interactions with them were not as long as I would have liked. However, they all were fantastic, and one of the big reasons as to why I will be going back again. HAUS OF CREEP has so much story, so much to see, and I want to uncover it all.
The show may be about an art installation, but it is an actual work of art. The writing from Daniel Montgomery is so layered that it makes my head spin. How JFI Productions continues to pull off such masterful shows is beyond me, but each one is ground-breaking in their approach. They continue to create such weird and creepy art that I can’t help but be enthralled by it.
Even in such chaos that entailed last night, it amazes me how they can create character moments that resonate with you. As the world collapsed around us in the show’s final moments, one of the characters grabbed me and whispered in my ear: “Don’t be afraid to destroy something, to allow something better to grow in its place.” It was such a beautiful moment, one that really rings true with me right now. It struck me how insane it was that they were even able to CREATE that moment amid the insanity that was happening around us.
The Halloween season has barely begun, but I know that it’s going to be hard to top this show. HAUS OF CREEP is magnificent and truly breathtaking in its execution. JFI Productions has impressed me again.
The doors are open. You need to go see this show.
For more information, and to purchase your tickets, visit them online at: http://creepla.com/