Delusion - Reaper's Remorse - Immersive Horror - Phillips Mansion - Pomona CA

Reaper’s Remorse is our Favorite Delusion Haunted Play

Below is a review for Delusion’s Reapers Remorse. This review does not contain any major spoilers. However, if you want to attend knowing nothing, bookmark this review for later, and purchase a ticket to Delusion–it is immersive horror at its finest. 

Reaper’s Remorse is Delusion’s seventh foray into the haunted play format. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Delusion, they are the epitome of immersive theater, offering participants a chance to play their part in the story and enter a fully-realized world inhabited by compelling characters, gorgeous sets, professional lighting and sound design, and stunts. In other words, this is the closest you can get to experiencing a horror film in which you are the main character. This year, the company has teamed up with Thirteenth Floor to bring this event to life.

Reaper’s Remorse is an hour-long experience, with an additional VIP option titled Her Private Collection, which can extend the evening to an hour and fifteen minutes in total. The production is interactive, with the caveat of participants only speaking when spoken to. Guests are expected to navigate dark spaces, hide from dangers, crawl through areas, and suspend their disbelief. In typical Delusion fashion, select participants may also be chosen from their group of twelve to engage with actors, solve small puzzles to push the narrative forward, and might even be separated from the group for a few unique interactions. As always, the story is strong, immersing audiences into its world, suspending the rational, and inviting guests to cross the veil between the familiar and the world of Delusion.

 

Delusion - Reaper's Remorse - Immersive Horror - Phillips Mansion - Pomona CA

 

Her Private Collection

For an additional thirty dollars, participants are invited to Her Private Collection, the VIP experience. Before we get any further into the review of the VIP upgrade, I will say with a resounding yes that this is worth every penny. The value comes from the extended Delusion experience, adding an extra ten to fifteen minutes of content to the overall event. This is the perfect opening to the storyline of Reaper’s Remorse , offering an introduction that graciously ushers audiences into the world of Esther Phillips while providing an encounter with one of the residents of the mansion. I won’t say much more than this for fear of spoilers, but the experience covers multiple rooms filled with special effects, secret passageways, and the characteristic magic that Delusion is known for.

Notable for this experience, Her Private Collection can be experienced in small groups of just friends and currently does not combine parties. We attended with a group of four and found that the experience—and its small passageways—perfectly accommodated us. Groups of six and larger may want to separate into two smaller groups.

 

 

Delusion - Reaper's Remorse - Immersive Horror - Phillips Mansion - Pomona CA

 

 

The rest of the VIP Experience includes access to a “secluded” second floor, an exploration of personal artifacts, access to a private bar and lounge, and a collector’s poster signed by Jon Braver. These offerings pale in comparison to the experience mentioned above. The intimate space of the second floor can quickly become crowded, as guests may wait nearly an hour to enter into the extended experience—please plan your evening accordingly. Though you have the option to enjoy this chapter after the main event, be advised that Her Private Collection closes at midnight and better serves the story as an introduction. The bar offers drinks, but no signature cocktails (yet), and the exclusive story threads promised were either too well hidden or simply took the form of daggers and gas masks hidden among board games on shelves. Finally, be on the lookout for a time-traveling magician who offers some truly impressive magic and a small bit of story.

Overall, Her Private Collection is not to be missed, as its contributions to the grand scheme of the experience are more than worth the cost. The rest are simply cherries, added to atop a decadent sundae that is definitely not poisoned.

 

 

 

Reaper’s Remorse

Reaper’s Remorse is a horror experience through and through. It captures the aesthetic and power of the classic ghost story. Esther Phillips is an eccentric collector of artifacts—artifacts that not only tell tales but are the vessels of the very souls to which they’ve been tied. She has become haunted by these totems, but nothing compares to her latest acquisition. Fear, anger, and regret bleed from it—and it has the power to hold captive the memories that linger in her residence in a vicious, purgatorial cycle. Unlucky for you, Esther has invited you into her mansion to aid her and the inhabitants of her artifacts in shuffling off their mortal coils. As one might expect, this experience is the darkest of Delusion’s productions yet, offering horror that extends beyond the scope of 2016’s Her Crimson Queen and 2014’s Lies Within.

Yet, much in the same vein as Lies Within, the story is deep, exploring themes that resonate for participants from all walks of life. Layered through the terror and fear is a certain melancholy that permeates each room, each story within the mansion. The artifacts and associated souls yearn for release, and while each are vastly different, their stories are uniquely poignant and powerful. The writing is some of the best I’ve encountered from Delusion—the characters feel real, dynamic, and organic. There were multiple moments where I felt true terror that quickly turned to wonder and sympathy as the tones shifted, as quickly and naturally as water traversing an ebbing river.

 

 

Delusion - Reaper's Remorse - Immersive Horror - Phillips Mansion - Pomona CA

 

 

It’s the actors in Delusion who truly bring these characters to life. Lisa Stanley is quintessential as Esther Phillips, the mad madam collector, obsessed to the point of insanity, her socialite mask chipping away bit by bit as the play progresses. William (Benjamin Scott), a former guest in the mansion, offers a friendly voice and charisma in spades to push the narrative forward. His interactions with the world around him are an absolute delight, and a welcome contrast to the weight of the horror within the dwelling. Finally, Lilly, Esther’s daughter, infuses Reaper’s Remorse with vulnerability and emotion, connecting us into the narrative, and giving us a true stake in the outcome of these characters. While there are plenty of others worthy of mention and praise, we’ll refrain for the sake of spoiling key details for the reader.

We’ll also do our best to avoid spoiling the effects inside—but do expect magic. There is some incredible stunt work, objects which move on their own, and rooms that are almost characters unto themselves, transforming in real time before your very eyes. These effects are only further elevated by the ingenious use of lighting and sound. It’s the combination of these two elements that serve as harbingers of dread, facilitating some of the most suspenseful moments. Lights flicker until they extinguish; gaping darkness beckons through an open door; a single red light warns of danger. The sound design is loud, but never detracts from the dialogue. These effects also serve to create some of the horrific creatures that lurk within. Special effects are one domain over which Delusion is king, and it is showcased in this year’s production.

 

 

Delusion - Reaper's Remorse - Immersive Horror - Phillips Mansion - Pomona CA

 

 

Finally, Delusion is naught without its historic locations—and the Phillips Mansion is one of the best. While this may not be the only place you visit during your time with Delusion, every space you step into feels diegetic and has been touched in some manner by Delusion and Thirteenth Floor. The sets are perfectly executed—with coffins emerging from the ground and pictures half consumed by the mansion walls around them—showcasing the mindset of those within, as well as the chaotic antics of a house with a life of its own. The rooms shift from claustrophobically tight corridors to massive foyers that we imagine must have hosted the most elaborate soirees in their heyday. The set is a character, and it is one of my favorites.

 

 

Constructive Words

Our main constructive criticism comes in the way of lighting. There is a scene in which guests hurry up and later down a steep set of stairs, in near-complete darkness. A light at the top of the stairs flickers on and off, but fails to provide enough light. We heard from one group before us that someone had fallen on the stairs, and someone in our group did the same. A little more light will be so helpful, especially to those who scare easily and are not as focused on the ground below them.

Beyond that, there are several moments of interactive audio heard from objects in the play. These moments of narration are wonderful and engaging for those immediately in the vicinity of the object, but in groups of twelve, it is simply impossible to get everyone close enough to hear properly. Thus, a lot of the dialogue may be lost to a large portion of the group. This might be by design, a special treat for those selected to hear it, but it would be nice to increase the volume and clarity, allowing all in the group access to these narrative threads.

While Delusion’s website suggests an “Open World” component to the interactive play, inviting guests to spend as much time as they’d like before and after the show to explore Esther Phillips’ manor—we will say this exactly as it is stated. There are no characters inhabiting this world (except for Her Private Collection or in the actual experience). The mansion is simply beautiful set dressing and atmosphere, not a sandbox meant to be played in with actors. This is a place to meet other guests, share a cocktail, and take photographs. Come with those expectations and you’ll be fine.

 

Delusion - Reaper's Remorse - Immersive Horror - Phillips Mansion - Pomona CA

Final Thoughts on Reaper’s Remorse

Delusion is the original haunted play—and their wisdom, expertise, and experience are clearly on display, proving that they are the best at letting audiences play their part. Minor criticisms aside, this is their best effort to date, taking inspiration from prior work and only improving upon it. They have created a powerful narrative, strong characters, and a gorgeous set, and showed that the sum can be far greater than its parts.

This experience will be remembered as one of Delusion’s greats. Do yourself a favor and get a ticket—then upgrade it to VIP. We promise you won’t be disappointed. Esther and her collection are anxiously awaiting your arrival. Won’t you play your part?

 

 

Delusion - Reaper's Remorse - Immersive Horror - Phillips Mansion - Pomona CA

 

 

For more information about Delusion and Reaper’s Remorse, check out their website, facebook, and instagram. To find other events similar to this one, check out our Event Catalog.

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About The Author

Taylor Winters
Taylor has loved immersive theater since his first experience at ALONE in 2013. Since then, he has written, produced, & directed immersive theater, consulted for numerous immersive companies, acted in others, and attended even more. He has his PhD in Bioengineering, an MBA in Organization Leadership, and currently works fixing broken hearts.

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