Anxiety settled in its regular seat in the pit of my stomach as we turned into what seemed to be a relatively normal neighborhood. I double checked the address to ensure I made it to the right place, as it seemed too quiet of a neighborhood to house an extreme haunt. As if reading my o, wn thoughts, my best friend excitedly pointed out the MDNGHT XPRMNT sign that beckoned us towards our shocking fate.


MDNGHT XPRMNT: ILLUSION (MX: ILLUSION) is Lights Out’s seventh production and second in the Midnight Experiment series. Lights Out has been cranking out various immersive experiences since July 2019 living in various realms from a Sorority Rush event to a chaotic fun house. When MX: ILLUSION was announced, I was ecstatic to explore more in the extreme haunt environment.

MX: ILLUSION proved to be an enjoyable, quick haunt that seemed to be perfect for folks newer to more extreme horror experiences. Upon arrival, we were instructed to wait since they were still getting ready due to their previous, less-extreme haunt’s popularity. After a bit of waiting, we were finally summoned to embark on our MX: ILLUSION journey.

MX: ILLUSION set up the narrative beautifully in a very unsuspecting way. We were essentially individuals auditioning for roles in a show. This portion of the experience was reminiscent of a high school improv class, as we were instructed to utilize various improv and acting based skills. It effectively eased my anxiety and lowered my guard, which contrasted nicely with my future mental state during the extreme events I was about to experience. After we passed our auditions, we were given a “pill” for fun(!) and promptly ushered onto set, where we would begin our training and ultimately, our torture.

I tend to hesitate when going through extreme haunts I haven’t experienced before since safety is always a huge concern of mine. MX: ILLUSION was incredibly safe with their practices, and I admired their professionalism in ensuring the protection of both the actors and the guests. The first room found each of us in various compromising positions. One individual in our group was tied to a chair with what appeared to be wires. Another was prompted to crawl into a dog cage. My friend and I were instructed to sit on the floor. 3 out of 4 of us were shocked with a standard hand taser only once. While getting shocked always sucks, I was thankful to only have been given one shock before being lovingly told to get out.

The next room in MX: Illusion appeared to be the drug den, and 3 out of 4 of us were instructed to lay down on a bed covered in plastic. I was the lucky odd one out and was instructed to help them give my fellow victims, I mean audience members, drugs. Syringes filled with blood were used to simulate the effect, and I always enjoy a messy blood moment. After our little break from the more physical antics, we were quickly whisked into the hall for some lovely mind games. I was incredibly impressed with the actor in this area, as she was absolutely psychotic and fun. MX: ILLUSION effectively tormented me psychologically during this portion of the show with a shocking game that surprisingly did not shock us and with a blindfold and knife trick that had me fighting every urge to feel for blood on my neck.

After that bout of mind games, we filed into the room I was most looking forward to: simulated drowning. Two of us had our heads plunged into ice-cold water, while the other two were carefully waterboarded. MX: ILLUSION executed this room seamlessly and safely. I really appreciated the caution and care they took, as it went a long way in my books. This room also featured a great atmosphere. There’s just something special about hearing a remix of ABBA’s “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” blaring while I was held under water.

The ending of MX: ILLUSION felt a bit anticlimactic compared to the emotions that were previously stirred up. It was essentially a whole “you just got punk’d on a live stream” moment, but the stakes did not feel as high as they could have been in that moment. However, the actor in this area was incredibly strong and had a great presence towards the livestream camera, which made this scene a bit more believable.

Overall, MX: ILLUSION was a fun jaunt through a chaotic world of torture perfect for those new to extreme haunts. Their attention to safety, the pacing of the experience, and the varying personalities of the characters we met all added nicely to the excitement that stems from any extreme experience. While the narrative that was so tediously set up seemed to be lost in the chaos, I still enjoyed all that was MX: ILLUSION and am looking forward to seeing their future projects.

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About the Author

Linnea Swanson enjoys writing about things that scare her. When not writing, she enjoys reading and screaming into the void.
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