Below is a review and teaser video featuring all three haunted houses and the VR experience from HorrorWorld in 2018. Special thanks to Kevin Hsu for filming the experiences and to Jon Kobryn for editing it.
Last year, Larry Bones departed Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights after a decade of service in order to create Into the Black, an old school, yet classically effective haunted house. This year, Bones returns, but he’s not alone; Into the Black has partnered with Anaheim’s Fleshyard, is creating the brand new Psycho Sanitarium, and is bringing on VR veterans VKULT, to present HorrorWorld, a multi-haunt attraction located inside the Puente Hills Mall. It’s an unorthodox location, to say the least, but it offers its share of charm and chills.
INTO THE BLACK
The flagship maze of HorrorWorld, Into the Black is every bit as effective as it was in 2017. Not much has changed apart from its location; the scenes are still dark as hell and eerily quiet, ratcheting up the tension in ways that few others do. The demons living inside the Victorian locale are uniform, all looking roughly the same, but nonetheless are still relentless in pursuit of their victims. Add to that the fact that guests must experience the house completely alone, and Into the Black still comes out one of the most promising new attractions of the last few years.
For the last few years, the Fleshyard has flown relatively under the radar, entertaining a cult following during Halloween season but managing to always make an impact at Midsummer Scream. For their stay at HorrorWorld, the Fleshyard presents a solid maze, following a creative origin story in which a mysterious woman in pink communes with a dark entity, wreaking havoc on her poor family. The Fleshyard does a fantastic job of creating a consistent backstory, with various women in pink all playing one shared role effectively. Chainsaws, narrow hallways and an unexpectedly impressive finale make this the best addition to HorrorWorld.
THE PSYCHO SANITARIUM
Setting up shop in a brightly lit storefront that it shares with the various vendors on site, The Psycho Sanitarium offers a distinctly different haunted house: a bright and well-lit experience. While there’s only so much scaring to be done in such conditions, the cast is putting their entire hearts into their performances. From a bearded nurse to a grease-painted mental patient, from a cackling doctor to a diminutive bathroom-dweller, the power of the Psycho Sanitarium lies in its inhabitants. Given a setting more conducive to traditional haunts, or at least given the opportunity to write the bright atmosphere into its backstory, the Sanitarium would surely excel.
The presence of enthusiastic vendors is a welcome addition to HorrorWorld, making it feel more like a mini-carnival in the vein of Del Mar’s Screamzone or the long-forgotten Fearplex in Pomona. In between scares, guests can shop around for ghoulish goods like cupcakes and artwork.
VKULT VR EXPERIENCE
VKULT VR occupies a miniscule footprint of HorrorWorld, but packs a wallop of a punch, presenting a virtual reality experience unlike any others that haunt fans may have seen up to this point. Without giving too much away, VKULT VR looks more like a bizarre snuff film than anything else, augmented by a variety of sensory effects, all while guests are strapped down to a gurney, Hannibal Lecter-style.
The inside of a shopping mall is a bizarre place to hear the whirring of chainsaws, but the three mazes that comprise HorrorWorld excel in the spaces they inhabit. There’s also something to be said for each maze being so tonally different, with Psycho Sanitarium delivering mostly comedy, Fleshyard following up with a compelling narrative, and Into the Black remaining an intensely ominous solo encounter. The atmosphere may not be there in spades, but the three definitely warrant a visit this year.
HorrorWorld runs select dates at the Puente Hills Mall from September 28 through Halloween. More information can be found at www.horrorworld.biz.
Note: Horrorworld is inside the mall and is not easy to see from the outside. Head to the center of the mall and listen for the sounds of chainsaws.