If you need to, head back to my summary about St. Matthews Haunted House to learn about how I grade charity haunts. If you do not wish to take the time to do so, then I'll sum it up by saying a charity haunt does more good than harm, and therefore will not be placed under the same microscope that a professional haunt does. Bottom line, they raise money to help people, where as professional haunts raise money for themselves.
McHenry Jaycees has been around forever - I remember running through the haunt when I was just a teenager in the same location, and had a blast with it. In fact, I'd dare wager my love of haunted houses came from this same exact haunt, and I remember being 13 and diving out the door of the old barn in McHenry before some one with a hedge clipper nailed me in the head.
And, despite it being so old, I'm glad it's still around. It was fun for the price that is paid to enter, despite it only being six minutes long.
The haunt starts with a teenager in the front room telling me the rules of what is allowed and not allowed in the haunt. You could tell she has been doing this for awhile or repeat the lines a million times per night because she rambled through it quickly...and adding in ad lib lines designed to try and scare me. Now, again, she didn't really scare me because its hard to be scared by a teenager, but I could see how her effort on other teens could be deemed as scary.
From there, we entered a shower area, where two spooks intentionally split up my group by telling us to go into different showers stalls and find our way out. Two of the stalls had secret doors built in, where as a third didn't lead anywhere. this caused the split I mentioned above, causing me to not run into another group for the rest of the night.
The shower was a decent effect, until a female in the group I was walking in with refused to do what the teen spooks said, thus resulting in the teens to try and coax her into complying with their wishes. It got so bad that I had to step up and tell the girl "just do what they say so we can get out of this room."
From there, you wander through various haunted scenes including a funeral parlor, an electrocution room, a demented birthday party and a half-walled maze.
Ugh - let me go on a rant for a second: Who came up with the dumb idea of creating a half-walled maze? I mean, maybe I don't understand the concept or something, and maybe someone out there can help me out. For the second or third time this year, I have wandered through maze made of waist high walls, and in both instances, these mazes either have a strobe light or lasers in the room. Now, from what I remember, thought the idea of a maze is to get people lost and disoriented - creating a claustrophobic feeling of darkness overcoming them. Or, in some cases, a cage maze or mirrors are used with lights to disorient people. But, when you create a maze of half walls, then add strobes or lasers or other lighting techniques, it not only shows me the way out, but it also shows me the easiest path to get to that exit. Honestly, I had absolutely no trouble in EITHER maze of finding my way out, so it did nothing to slow me down or anything. It was just pointless.
Now, I apologize for ranting on the Jaycees for putting this up, but this is seriously the third haunt I've been too that had one of these things...so obviously its become a trend somewhere and it needs to stop. Half walled mazes are stupid and if you are haunt owner reviewing this, get rid of the half-walled mazes forever.
The acting in the haunt, though, was decent for the most part. Everyone used high energy to try and scare me, the victims begged me to help them admirably, while the spooks were in your face and really trying to get me creped out. The only complaint was that the unpaid actors would sit frozen waiting for me to enter the room, then, I'd step in and there would be a delay before the scene would start. For example, the three actors in the "serial killer birthday party" scene were awesome once the scene was running - the serial killer was "beating" the holy hell out of one of the victims in the room to the point where he held her a foot or two off the ground and in his face before throwing her into a seat or to the floor. BUT, they sat in the room frozen for about two seconds after I walked into the room, waiting for the whole thing to start. My advice would be to have actors start performing their routines while people were coming down the hallway rather than starting when they entered the room.
But, other than those few glitches, the McHenry Area Jaycees did a great job this year, as they always do. You could tell they worked hard, had a a lot of props and other things to show off the rooms, and really put forth a decent effort.
But, please, get rid of the half-walled maze inside the haunt. It really is pointless in every sense of the word.
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