In your own words, what is Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse?
Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse is a return to form. This is an interactive play that I’ve been hoping to do for quite some time that encompasses everything I love about Halloween: the energy of magic season, the smell of fall (even though it might not smell like fall out there in Pomona, but we’re going to do our damndest to make that happen), all mixed with an eerily haunting story. This script came through real quick for me. It’s probably the fastest I’ve ever written one and I just absolutely love it. It’s a layered story for sure, like a lot of the Delusion stories. If people go see it, I recommend they pay attention and they come back and see it again.
Can you speak to the talented team behind Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse?
They are the best in the business. I’m very proud of Delusion and what we’ve been able to create. Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse brings the team that I’ve had for a while now and some new folks as well. Kevin Williams (our production designer), Ian Momii (our lighting designer, as well as helping create show control and sound), and Victor Mathieu (he’s been with me since the beginning in 2011, and doing a lot this year: production management, sound design, associate producer, ball-handler). There’s also David Brzozowski who is the producer of this production, he’s pretty amazing, and Amanda Ino who is our stage manager. Finally, there’s the whole Thirteenth Floor Entertainment team.
How has your partnership with Thirteenth Floor Entertainment influenced your experience?
They have rolled the dice and taken quite a risk. Chris Stafford, the CEO said, “You know what? You just need to focus on what you do best. It’s writing and directing. And then let our team handle a lot of it and help your team where we’re needed.” So it’s influenced my experience in that I’m far less stressed than previous years. And when you’re less stressed, you do better work.
How did this collaboration begin?
Chris Stafford, Thirteenth Floor Entertainment’s CEO, has been coming to Delusion for years now. And we’ve been teasing this this partnership for a while. Late last year we decided, you know what? Let’s create a new department for Thirteenth Floor. Besides their haunted houses, let’s get into the immersive experience world. And so I’ll help create that department. So I’m the director of immersive experiences. That began in January of 2021 officially.
What have you learned from working with Thirteenth Floor Entertainment?
I’m still learning things every day from them. We’re in the thick of it. As I’m speaking, I’m learning about their process and how to make this a business instead of just a hobby. They bring expertise in all things Halloween. With their haunted houses, they know how to put the team together and get everybody doing what they do best. So they bring in a lot of expertise.
What themes or tonality should guests experience with the walls of Delusion: Reapers Remorse?
I set out for this to be one of the most terrifying stories that I’ve written. It’s a tonal shift back to our form, as I said previously, in horror. It’s an eerie ghost story. It’s a terrifying, wonderful, hauntingly beautiful story that I’m incredibly proud of.
Is this a horror experience like What Lies Within or more of a fantasy/action/adventure experience like Blue Blade?
I got my Raiders of the Lost Ark fantasy action adventure out of me with Blue Blade. That thing was a beast. So this one’s more in the vein of What Lies Within but more terrifying.
What inspired your team to create this year’s experience?
It really came from after Blue Blade, I said “I’ve got to write, I’ve got to get back to horror. I want to write something that will bring people together and in the most traumatic way possible but wonderfully traumatic.” I found this incredible venue through a location manager and this is probably our best location yet.
This experience also is our first foray into a format that I believe is sort of the future of these experiences: an open world experience mixed with a narrative play. So the open world is something you could just come out and just do on your own. That is something we hope people will do after they buy their ticket; they come as early as they want before and stay as long as they want after to explore all these very unique story threads that move throughout the entire venue. As such, you’ll be able to explore that and further add context to the story.
We have a VIP area that has exclusive story threads up there. When I say story threads, I mean, there are quests going on. There’s about ten of these: five in the VIP area and five down below in the general admission area. These are quests that encompass strange artifacts and voices from the dead and clues that help unlock more of the mystery behind the story.
Are there any specific films, novels, comics, immersives or haunts that influenced you?
I did recently go to one of my favorite haunts, two guys named Jeff and Jarrett (Scout Expedition Co.) did something called The Nest which I was a big fan of and that has helped kind of make me think about Delusion in different ways. They do some beautiful design. They worked with Kevin Williamson, our production designer as well. All these people had the same beautiful brains. So I was definitely inspired by that. As for specific films or novels, Salem’s Lot, not to say this is a vampire story – that was His Crimson Queen – but related in some way. OK, I’m being vague.
Delusion is known for #playyourpart. Will this experience continue the trend with audiences being able to interact and engage with the actors and solve puzzles? Will there be moments of choice and agency? How many different paths can audiences expect from Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse?
Yes, play your part, we stand by that. You have a part in this story. You are fellow lovers of the occult come to witness the grand unveiling of Esther Phillips’ most prized acquisition and she doesn’t want to get near it. It’s too personal to her. So she needs your help with this. So you you’re definitely interacting in a big way in this story as much, if not more, than previous years.
You’re definitely engaging with crazy actors, some horrifying situations. It’s not an escape room, you’re not really solving puzzles. It’s an interactive play so you’re kind of moving through it. But there are some moments of quizzical nature where you’re trying to figure out where you are and how to get out. Even though that sounds like an escape room, there are very few moments of that. But if you’re talking about solving puzzles, here you have to perform certain actions to move the story forward.
There will definitely be moments of choice and agency. You get the most out of Delusion if you are fully engaged and let yourself go completely; be a kid again. And yes, there are split paths like in previous years. I can’t say how many, but there are different paths the audience will be taking and people will be kidnapped.
Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse has an open world area that can be explored before and after the show. What should participants expect to find in these areas? Would you recommend they explore before the show so they have more backstory and information before going into the experience? How much time do you recommend participants give themselves to explore before their experience or after it?
I’m very proud of this very mysterious, awesome, open world. I would recommend you give yourself at least, you know, a couple hours before and or after, because we have a full bar, food and a lot of mystery to this space. So, you know, you get the VIP ticket, you go up there to this dark arts lounge and there’s a strange resident up there you might be able to meet and interact with who lives in the more fantastical realm. But, yeah, there’s a lot.
The cool thing is I wrote this so that it doesn’t really matter if you go before or after. If you go before, there’s mystery that will be further unveiled in the narrative play. If you go after, you will perhaps connect some of the things you see to what you have just seen in the play. It doesn’t really matter and that’s very purposeful. You’ll understand when you come.
What differentiates the VIP secluded 2nd Floor private collection from the areas accessible with a General Admission Ticket? What characters might they meet up there?
Oh, giving away a lot here if I answer all this. But I did touch upon the VIP. Again, I do highly recommend people get that while it’s still available. those are limited tickets. I talked about a character you might meet up there. There’s definitely some mystery up there. There’s an area called Her Private Collection. Her Private Collection is going to be those exclusive story threads we talked about earlier that help to unlock quite the mystery. It will help further color the entire experience as well, too. So, yes, I’d definitely recommend you get that.
If you don’t get it, that’s just fine. The play is the anchor; the play is why you’re there. Everything else is delicious gravy.
Will there be themed drinks and cocktails in Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse?
Will they find memorabilia from prior Delusion experiences or will it all be born from Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse?
We’ll see. There’s some Easter eggs in there. But I’m a fan of new shows with little tie ins here and there.
Locations often become characters in your stories and Delusion is known for its dilapidated mansions. Why was your specific location selected and what attributes were need to fully tell your story/evoke your theme? Taking place at Phillips Mansion, will you be utilizing the pre-existing décor and theming? Will you be using the props from the location or subverting expectation with a shift in tone? Are there any other clever ways in which you utilize the location?
I’m not going to answer that question. You may ask why, you just need to come to this one. I’ll just say this, I believe this to be the best Delusion location yet.
What do you want people to walk away from Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse with? What do you want them to feel or learn?
I want people to leave and have this linger in their minds for years. I want them to think back on this moment and remember, especially after this pandemic, remember what it’s like to go on an adventure with your friends and meet strangers that become friends. I really want people to remember what that’s like, to embrace it and to try to seek it out as much as possible, because that’s what life’s all about here. I do want people to be wonderfully terrified and living inside of a horror movie here and surviving. This story, this experience, it will be like nothing else. I just want to kind of bring people together in very unique ways. And that’s what we’re doing with Thirteenth Floor Entertainment with our first production together. But there’s going to be a lot more than just Delusion as we move forward with Thirteenth Floor. Stay tuned for that.
Find out more information on Delusion: Reaper’s Remorse at their website and on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Check out our Event Guide for more immersive and interactive events throughout the year.
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