We made our way out of the house and down toward the firepit. Each of us, flashlights in hand, looked nervously around. The moon was full, allowing for some visibility, but that didn’t allay our fears completely. As we walked through the night, we saw a shadow move in the darkness, further down the driveway.
“Is that a person?” one of us asked quietly. Surely it couldn’t be, no one in their right mind would be sneaking around in the shadows like that. But as we watched, a lone figure emerged from the darkness. Dressed all in white, with a white animal mask covering his face, he struck an imposing figure in the night. He was still a good 20 yards away, but his slow gait toward us brought up visions of Michael Myers slowly stalking his prey. We began to walk, and the figure did too. Following us. Slowly. But with a purpose.
That was all we need to see before we ran for our lives.
And thus, INTRUDER ESCAPE truly began, as we spent the next two hours solving puzzles, trying to earn Father Ash’s praises, and evading the Buchanan family. And let me tell you, it was an absolute BLAST. But, what exactly is it?
Well, that’s difficult to put into so many words. At its core, INTRUDER ESCAPE is a revamped and re-worked version of WELCOME HOME, a hybrid immersive / escape room experience that I loved last year. The company that put it on then has since gone through a renovation and has returned with this all-new experience that is legions above what it was in the past…which is no small feat.
INTRUDER ESCAPE brings you into the wilds of Santa Clarita, literally in the middle of nowhere, where you are introduced to the Buchanan family. Instead of your average, chainsaw wielding cannibalistic isolated family that you’d expect, the Buchanan’s are more friendly. In fact, they want you to join their family…a family that just so happens to be a religious cult of some sort.
As the evening begins, and we are brought into their home, we learned a bit more about the family from Father Ash, the leader of the group. He explained that we were all there to earn his favor through a series of puzzles and challenges. Those who earn the most points by completing said challenges could become part of the family forever. And those who don’t…well, let’s not talk about that.
It’s not too far after that we are set loose onto their property, armed with only a map of the grounds and a flashlight. Using only posters in the main hall of the house as our guide, it is up to us to figure out the puzzles and their answers beyond. After completing each one, you are instructed to return to the home, find Father Ash, and tell him the answer. If correct, you earn a point…and if not, you are sent back out to continue your task.
Easy enough, right? Well, let’s not forget the various family members, stalking you at every turn to try to stop you. And if they catch you, they will not only take one of your points but you’ll have to escape from their traps.
The “game” itself is a ton of fun, and even though there are only four real challenges to complete, each are involved enough to take a good bit of time. It takes some strategy and quick thinking to be able to make it through them all, and I quite enjoyed the way they worked my brain. The group I was with had a bit of trouble figuring them out at first, but with our powers combined, we were able to make it through. I thought they were clever and very well-thought out, going a bit above and beyond a typical escape room puzzle.
As for the setting of the game, the house and property were gorgeous. It was very isolated, clearly adding to the already eerie atmosphere. With no one around for miles, and plenty of ground to cover, it really did feel like being in a horror movie for an evening. It was the perfect location for this kind of thing, and I wish more experiences did something like this.
The family members, each with their own unique personality and wants, were terrifying. It was stressful enough to try to figure out the puzzle’s answers, but the added bonus of being chased by lunatics was an added bonus. To me, this is where the experience excels: making you feel like you are very much in a horror movie, much like THE STRANGERS or along those lines. Spotting one of the family, in their white animal masks, out of the corner of your eye down the path or peaking out of a window staring at you is by far one of the scariest things I have ever experienced.
The constant threat of being caught, looking over your shoulder, is fantastic and adds a whole other layer to the experience. Each family member has their own “scene” of sorts when they catch you, letting you in on a little more of the story overall. While you CAN go the entire game avoiding them, I definitely recommend getting caught once or twice, just to see the creepy cool things they say and do. Or, you know, hiding under a bed while they pass is fun, too.
At the end of the night, we not only solved all four puzzles and had a blast, but fellow HorrorBuzz writer Melinda Stang was welcomed into the family as one of their own. It was wonderful to see a plan come to fruition, and earn the family’s favor.
INTRUDER ESCAPE blends elements from all of our favorite live-action entertainment to create a thrilling, heart-pounding adventure. Either taken as a solo journey or one with friends, you are sure to have a fantastic time. I understand that the location may seem a bit far for some (it’s about 20 minutes off the Six Flags exit), but even with us coming from Orange County, it was well worth the drive.
INTRUDER ESCAPE is perfect for people who want a true horror movie experience this Halloween season. Go join a cult in the woods, I assure you that it’s the most fun you will have this year.
For more information, and to buy tickets, visit them online at: https://intruderescape.com