It's not every day that I have to give a tampon to a prisoner in order to enter the next room of a haunted house. Statesville, long thought of as a premium haunt in the Chicago-land area, really upped the ante this year to create a thrilling experience that made me jump more than a few times (in hindsight, I am actually embarrassed how many times I jumped or screamed in the haunt, but I am The Scream Queen, after all).
My group started off the night by heading directly into the prison, as the zombie paintball from previous has been discontinued until 2017. Since we were able to get a great deal on tickets for opening weekend, we headed into the VIP area. Here, we waited for a quick 15 minutes to get through the line and enter the prison. Crowd control and character interaction was great throughout, with multiple actors making their ways through the line. As we waited, we watched the looping video a few times through and tried to predict changes from the previous incantations of Statesville.
Much like previous years, the opening scene is emceed by the warden, who explains what to expect inside the prison. I don't want to ruin the opening scene, since it boasts some cool effects. I'd almost like to see Statesville up the ante even further in the opening (for instance, when the Warden flips the various switches, I feel like even more could be happening). As soon as the opening ended, our groups were shuttled into the next room, which served as a checkpoint to help space out groups. Even in this area, the in-line entertainment was great; the emcee poked fun at me for leaving my husband behind in a group, and another actor brought out a small mouse that guests could pet.
Once my group entered the prison, all hell broke loose. I'm always impressed by the sheer number of actors that Statesville employed, and this year was no exception. The actors really brought it to a new level this year; I can't get over how many times they scared me when I was least anticipating it.
Statesville had mentioned many renovations this year, and they definitely delivered. The electrical room was amazing, with sparks and a light mist of water - just enough to make the room feel incredibly dangerous. The sisters' room reboot also worked well - I liked the intensity of the close quarters, as well as the perfect creepiness of the girls. Something else mentioned was the use of more live creatures, which was definitely highlighted this year. Besides the mouse, we were presented with cockroaches and snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the impressive attention to detail that Statesville puts into every room. From urine sample jars to worms in the ceiling lights, Statesville doesn't overlook a single detail. What really interested me were the aerial effects - Statesville makes use of every inch of the space, and it's incredibly disconcerting to have actors coming at your from all angles. Nicely done!
After finishing Statesville, guests are then instructed to line up for City of the Dead, which is a stand-alone haunt with its own plot. Set up as a mine shaft, my group traversed "underground" to a labyrinth of dead souls. One of my criticisms last year is that the City felt like it leaned more heavily on animatronics than actors, but this year felt much more balanced. This attraction also featured the aforementioned snakes (again, it's a lot of snakes). While City of the Dead is much shorter, the attention to detail and overall mood of the haunt makes it compelling on its own.
I was really excited to write this recap of Statesville, mainly because I had such a good time this year. From the renovations to the ridiculous attention to detail, I was incredibly impressed by Statesville and can't wait to see what next year brings.
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