It’s a hot, sticky day down at Midsummer Scream 2018 in Long Beach, and Ray Jones needs our help. We’d met briefly before, when I helped him with some…well…contraband disposal over in Koreatown, but now he’s in a bind. Through a mutual contact, he tells us he’s trying to make a deal with someone known only as The Ghost—an occult fanatic but as-yet unknown major player of the LA crime scene, and he’s been unable to land his or her trust, and that’s where we come in. He needs us to do whatever we can to convince The Ghost to form an alliance with him, or his business, and maybe his life, will be in danger. Ray may not be the paradigm of morality, but he’s a tried and true entrepreneur; so what’s a friend to do? This is Stash House: Give Up The Ghost, and we’re about to go deep undercover to keep Ray Jones’ dream, and Ray himself, alive.
Stash House proper is arguably one of the most complex, innovative escape rooms/stories in modern memory. The 90-minute escape experience opened in 2017 to wide acclaim, and was preceded by an immersive prequel, Street Baptism, in which audiences were witness to the rise of our intrepid Mr. Jones through the criminal underworld. Give Up The Ghost, like Street Baptism before it, is a participatory immersive experience that aims to introduce us to a new character that will hopefully play a continuing part in the Stash House world.
Once my partner and I get our instructions from Ray, we venture down to the convention floor to find Crow Blackwood, nestled in a nondescript booth advertising his services as a Medium and Spiritual Advisor. I take his card, apparently he specializes in “Fortune telling, Advice giving, Karmic adjustments, Enchantments, and Readings.” Ah…”FAKER.” Clever. Crow is true to the his character, the charming charlatan through and through; we feel an instant affection for him. After a few minutes of chat and a deliberately vague tarot reading, Crow leaves to take care of some “herbal” refreshments and leaves us in charge of his booth.
We fidget nervously and play dress up until a woman sits down across from us. She eyes us suspiciously…is this The Ghost? Understanding how completely ridiculous we look, we nervously give her a reading that encourages her to enter into a “new business arrangement.” She hesitates for a tense few seconds, as if weighing our worthiness, but her faith in the occult eventually must win out, because she warily thanks us for our advice and slinks off as Crow returns to the table, asking if anything interesting happened while he was relaxing. You could say that, we mutter, rushing off to find our contact again.
Back outside the convention, Ray’s mouthpiece plays us a message from the man himself—we did it! He doesn’t know how we pulled it off but The Ghost is convinced she should trust him. We pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, and look excitedly towards our next encounter with the Stash House team.
Tommy Honton, one half of the creative duo behind Stash House (along with fellow filmmaker Don DeLeon,) created Give Up the Ghost to give immersive and escape enthusiasts alike a glimpse into the future of his brand. Coming up later this year, he promises a bonus room for those who completed the Stash House escape room in enough time in early Fall 2018, as well as a potential “crazy surprise coming later in the year.” As for the infamous Crow Blackwood? We’re encouraged to visit him on his website and maybe drop him a line. “[People] will definitely be seeing a lot more Crow Blackwood, especially around Halloween and beyond,” Honton says.
Give up the Ghost was a wonderful taste at the intricate, tongue-in-cheek style synonymous with Stash House as a whole, and a wonderful indicator of things to come. We certainly hope to meet Crow again, that relatable fraudster, and it looks like we’ll get our wish. As for local kingpin Ray Jones, he’s not done with any of us yet, not by a long shot, except now he owes us a favor. And being owed one by a powerful, dangerous man? Well, that just sounds like a recipe for a thrilling new chapter.