102. The number is written in black ink and pasted across my chest. 101 and 103 stand to my sides, our feet behind a taped threshold. A man in black pants, black shirt, and black hat shines a flashlight directly at me – and then at a small X made of tape on the north side of the room. I move there quickly and am handed a medical mask. I slip the elastic over my ears as the cloth covers my mouth and nose – and I’m immediately aware of how hot my breath is. I wait, silently, feeling the pulsation of the music’s bass against my chest. Another man emerges, tossing a single shoe to the ground and then motions for me to follow him past the black tarp. Blackout10NYC
Blackout is the immersive horror pioneer; starting in 2009, they revolutionized the genre in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago – and essentially the world. Being the first to transform the haunted attraction concept by sending guests through alone, allowing actor contact, and focusing on an adult demographic, Blackout created a new genre which a majority of immersive horror mainstays still use to this day. After taking a few years off, they have returned to New York for their ten-year anniversary with Blackout10NYC.
Blackout10NYC stays true to the Blackout style, offering participants a linear, full-contact experience which they enter alone. A series of approximately ten scenes are connected to form a full thirty-minute experience in which you are the main focus. Everything here is designed to disorient and unnerve you. From the dreadful and anticipatory waiting room to the lack of a clear narrative to the instructions of stand, kneel, crawl – Blackout excels in getting in your head and ensuring that you’ll never know what’s coming next. Blackout10NYC is a perfect mental experience.
So, what does that mean about the physicality and full contact then? Well, that’s there – but don’t expect to be waterboarded, electrocuted, or tortured – that has never been Blackout’s style. This is a simulated theater experience. So yes, it’s frightening; yes, you will be touched; yes, you will be pushed outside your comfort zone – but it’s safe, controlled, and monitored. And if you want to know more of what happens inside – well, that’s half the fun; wondering what will happen and exploring those dark corners of your mind.
Like those dark corners, the entirety of Blackout10NYC’s décor is black tarp – the Blackout staple. A few props are used to terrifying effect, but the rooms are either pure darkness or tarped sectionals. And whether you can see or not, the actors use the space exceptionally. They will move you around it and pin you to walls or floors – and while doing this, they prove that they are masters of reading their audience and knowing how far to push. They are able to induce fear often though movement and commands alone – creating fear often without touch. But when they do touch you, it’s strong, forceful, and in control. This control ensures that you are safe, while making things a little more frightening.
Blackout10NYC is a reminder of what’s so powerful about Blackout. It’s the purest form of dread, the anticipation of the unknown, the pause at the end of a sentence. They achieve more than most haunts without even having to touch you. But when they do – it’s not with some complex equipment, it’s with hot breath down the nape of your neck, a strong arm across your chest, or something wet against the bottom of your bare feet.
Find out more about Blackout and Blackout10NYC – running from October 2nd to November 4th – on their website, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook page. Make sure to subscribe to our Event Calendar for more immersive horror and extreme haunt experiences throughout the year.
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