Twisted Attractions, noted for the now infamous ‘Morgue Live’ and ‘The Facility’ presented their latest attractions ‘House of Insomnia’ and ‘Ward 78’ under a new ‘Halloween Scream Nights’ guise. Having been part of the first group to enter ‘The Morgue Live’ on the press/launch night last October, we have seen the Twisted Attractions team evolve into a sleek production unit capable of pulling off exceptional attractions (mainly in the form of ‘The Facility’).
With the barrier of expectation set so high after experiencing ‘The Facility’, we were hopeful the two new attractions would be as good if not better on our visit to the VIP launch night on October 1st.
Having arrived at the location in the heart of Birmingham City Centre on Wrentham Street (the same location as The Facility), we, along with a large crowd of friends, scare reviewers and industry figures were warmly welcomed by Twisted Attractions.
We then proceeded to join the queue for ‘House of Insomnia’ which was slightly larger than the production team had anticipated and meant we had more time to take in the atmosphere and observe the two persistent queue line actors who were menacing with guests throughout the night.
As the queue shortened we turned the corner to view the impressive ‘House of Insomnia’ facade. The facade appeared to represent a ‘Hill Billy’ style wood cabin which we later discovered was part of the House of Insomnia back story.
After a short wait we were placed into a modest group of 8 and led into the attraction by an extremely lively actor who was wearing what can only be described as a ‘Steve Irwin’ esque outfit. The outfit later made sense as we found out he was actually a museum tour guide (part of the narrative).
As we entered the ‘House’, the majority of back story, explained by the ‘tour guide’, was missed due to some unfortunate noise bleed from a group entering the final scene of the maze. Similarly, more of the story was missed in the opening circular room scene due to bad sound quality (which we were assured would be rectified for public opening). However, the circular room scene really set the tone for the maze with an effective light show which built tension and led you to believe something more sinister was about to happen.
After exiting the circular room, we began winding our way through the maze which featured some extremely well thought out scenes including a bathroom, living room, freezer room and garage to name a few. The detail put into each of these scenes was impressive, notably, the living room scene.
More and more scenes passed by before the adrenaline fueled grand finale which had us dashing out into the queue line exit and seemed to provide entertainment to those currently queuing.
The acting throughout was passionate and quality as ever as we were taken on an emotional rollercoaster from start to end. There seemed to be a great deal of pride from the actors who gave the impression they really wanted the House of Insomnia to be a success. Well either that or they were competing with Ward 78 next door, either way, the outcome was awesome!
What we particularly liked about the attraction was the sheer range of scares that we experienced. From the ‘possessed’ woman on top of the washing machine to the completely insane Hill Billy characters, you were never sure what you were going to get. The use of subtle leg and arm touching from unexpected and unseen places also added to the intensity of the maze.
Aside from the lack of narrative which I’m sure will be ironed out in time for public opening, House of Insomnia has touches of brilliance and the set design of an attraction with a significantly higher budget. Overall, the TA team have produced a really solid attraction with an original storyline set to horrify everyone through its doors. Let’s not forget, this is only Twisted Attractions second year of operation and only their third maze production. Judging by the quality of The House of Insomnia, you really wouldn’t believe that…
Next up was Ward 78! After queuing, we noticed a disclaimer warning us about the extremity of the maze. We were also informed by the Twisted Attractions team that this maze was the more intense one of the two.
With that in mind we entered the daunting Ward 78 to be greeted by The Matron who made us aware that she was well and truly the boss. We were reminded of the disclaimer presented on the walls of the queue line and asked to sign our lives away which we did without hesitation. In return we received a candle style light which was our only salvage as we proceeded down a near pitch black corridor.
Carnage then ensued as we progressed around what was certainly the more intense maze of the Halloween Scream Nights. Great actor positioning, strobe lighting and tight corners made for really hectic experience. The smaller group numbers (2 max) really played into the hands of the actors who could focus on you as an individual a lot more. I’ve always found larger groups deter from the overall experience of a scare maze!
The construction of Ward 78 was really simple yet effective. At one point we were forced on our hands and knees and made to crawl through a pitch black tunnel which really disoriented us. The use of scent to create foul smells was evident and added another dimension to an already super immersive experience.
The acting, similarly to The House of Insomnia, was superb and a lot of energy and effort was put it in by all. The scene directly before the tunnel frightened the life out of us as one of the actors pounced onto an old medical bed which created a loud crashing sound.
The number of direct and impact scares throughout really put us on edge for the entirety of Ward 78 which was rounded off with a surprisingly wet ending, pardon the pun.
As the second addition to the Halloween Scream Nights line up, Ward 78 was our firm favourite in terms of scares and overall experience. While the set of The House of Insomnia was arguably of better quality and more detailed, the scares didn’t seem to hit home as hard or as frequently as Ward 78 which was intense and filled with adrenaline.
Importantly, the two mazes seem to complement each other really well and present the overall Halloween Scream Night’s as a larger and more complete package than perhaps a single maze.
Generally, it’s without doubt that the Twisted Attractions team have once again delivered two great concepts excellently. The two mazes are a great tribute to the sheer resourcefulness, creativity and hard work that everyone involved with Twisted Attractions has put in to ensure visitors like us leave feeling impressed, exhausted, frightened, relieved and amazed to name a few emotions.
If you are a horror fan, adrenaline junkie or just fancy something different, we highly recommend visiting the Twisted Attractions Halloween Scream Nights this October!
Tickets are available from: http://www.twistedattractions.co.uk/