I’ve crawled inside a chimney in the corner of a town haunted by a mist and creatures called See’ers that have been scaring me for the last 15 minutes. As the chimney turns out to have more space inside it than one would expect, I frantically search for either an artifact or a hole puncher that suggests one is nearby. Just outside the chimney entrance, something snarls.
For many years, Sinister Pointe has offered both frightening and innovative events that I have enjoyed quite a bit. This year, they’ve created an event called Mist that takes place at one of the buildings at the Westminster Mall. Part haunt, part scavenger hunt, Mist offers audiences a different kind of experience than most Halloween events that is truly a game hidden inside a scare zone.
Mist starts with a pretty basic story. Rips in reality have begun to appear and an archaeologist has determined that 13 artifacts must be found in order to restore it. These artifacts are hidden in a town shrouded in a strange mist (hence the event’s name). A group of 20+ individuals needs to enter the town and seek out these artifacts in whatever hidden part of the town they may be. There is a time limit, however; the group can only stay in the mist for 20 minutes before it becomes unsafe. Worse, there are creatures that have come through the rips called See’ers who can see just fine through the mist and who love scaring those they run across. Those entering the town are given a map of the area and a list of the 13 artifacts. It’s up to the audience to find where each artifact is in the town and to mark that they’ve found it by punching a hole next to the artifact on their map. With that beginning, the audience enters what is essentially a scavenger hunt at a rapid pace, thanks to trying to find 13 artifacts in a large, mist-covered space. Creatures also roam the space, working to scare, corner, and otherwise harass the audience in a typical haunt-like way.
The idea behind this event has some real merit. Combining a game-like premise with scare-actors sounds like a neat idea. In practice, some of the elements worked well, as I found myself both lost in the mist and scared by surprise appearances from the See’ers several times. Audiences can also choose to work individually or in groups, allowing multiple strategies for getting as many artifacts as possible.
Unfortunately, there are many elements that fail to reach their full potential. Trying to find 13 artifacts in 20 minutes appears to be impossible because of the size of the location. The highest number my entire group found, in fact, was 8. The ratio between actors and audience also seems somewhat off for a haunt-type event. While the actors I ran across are excellent at their scare tactics, the same ones appear so often it seems as though there are only a few in the entire space.
The artifacts themselves are also often confusing. People can find what they are certain is the artifact but not find the hole puncher to prove they have found it. Perhaps some hole punchers are missing or perhaps there are intentional misdirect items to confuse the audience. In either case, the short time frame audiences have can result in very frustrating moments in which an audience member is not trying to find an artifact but simply prove it is one. Other artifacts have punchers so far away that it is hard to be certain it’s the right one for that artifact. Even being able to see the artifacts on the map is a problem, as the space is so dark that the maps are useless. The only light in the space comes from candles, which instantly leads audience members to grab candles to try and read their maps – which then leaves spaces even darker when they take the candles with them.
Finally, the town feels very sparsely decorated. Many locations have only a few items or set pieces, creating a sketched, incomplete feeling. The resulting impression you get is that of an attempt to balance location completeness with the ability to find artifacts in such a limited time. That’s a completely logical balance to strive for but the current version feels like it’s falling short.
Sinister Pointe’s willingness to experiment with new ideas is something I have always appreciated deeply. Mist follows in the footsteps of other great Sinister Pointe events (such as last year’s Scary Place and this year’s Spirit Lounge). In this case, however, I enjoyed the idea of the event more than the event itself. Hopefully they will tweak things and find a better, more fully realized version of Mist. It has some real potential and I hope it can reach it and give audiences an experience that matches the idea behind it.
Follow Sinister Pointe on Facebook and Instagram, and purchase tickets for Mist, running now through November 2nd, HERE. Check out our Event Guide for more immersive and horror entertainment throughout the year.
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