Those are the three words that, to me,
best describe what Asylum Xperiment has done in 2012.
Ambitious because haunt owners have only
two months to put together what they showed off when I went through on Oct. 12.
(Worse, they will only have 22 hours to tear it all down when they leave the
Odeum Sports Complex on Nov. 1.)
Impressive because the sets, acting,
makeup, and intangibles I saw while traversing through their haunted house were
And, epic because, as I walked out at
the end of my adventure, I just couldnï¿½t get over the fact that it was like
nothing I have ever seen this side of Disney World.
While this may sound like hyperbole, I
want it well known that Iï¿½m not blowing things out of proportion at all:
Asylum Xperiment is so good that itï¿½s truly larger than life.
This entire review starts at the very
beginning ï¿½ at the floating head on the wall that spins as it tells you the
rules of the haunt. Now, it may not seem like much ï¿½ just a floating head that
tells us the rules - but the thought process that goes behind it is a way of
thinking that captures the true spirit of what Asylum Xperiment really is.
This spinning head gives insight into
what goes into the haunt designerï¿½s head when they are putting it together.
Now, we all know that head on the wall
telling us the rules is just a projector showing a computer program. That
program is designed to tell us the rules and, yea, it doesnï¿½t seem like a big
But, it is. You see, in order to
understand what that head signifies, you need to understand what that head
ISNï¿½Tï¿½ that floating head isnï¿½t a television screen of any kind showing me
a 2-D image of someone telling us the rules.
You see, itï¿½s a FLOATING HEAD that
tells us the rules. A FLOATING HEAD.
Itï¿½s not a 2D image ï¿½ a television -
or even a group of 2D images ï¿½ a group of televisions - of a head showing me
the rules. Itï¿½s a projected head spinning on the wall.
My point is that anyone can put a
television screen somewhere and show a video of the rules of the haunted house.
But, what makes Asylum Xperiment so damned special is that someone somewhere
said ï¿½what if we throw out the television and put a FLOATING HEAD on the wall,
telling everyone the rulesï¿½ï¿½
That thought process is what separates
Asylum Xperiment from every other haunt I have been to in 2012. Itï¿½s that
thought process that separates the best from the rest.
The common theme throughout Asylum
Xperiment is that they consistently say ï¿½anyone can do this, what if we did
this insteadï¿½ï¿½ and then they go out and find a way to do it.
You want examples? Thereï¿½s a mean
woman in the most disgusting kitchen I have ever seen force-feeding a girl food.
Now, yes, anyone can do that, but this girl, instead, kept spitting the food
back out of her mouth, into the pan, where the mean woman would scream and
shovel it BACK into the girlsï¿½ mouth!!!
More? Sureï¿½ how about the woman who
reads a full script from the top of a stairwell as she looks down on the group.
The designers of the room actually gave her a wireless microphone so she could
tell you about the true meaning of horror before you pass through the fireplace
into another room.
More? Okay. How about the toy room where
there are six-foot stuffed animals surrounding the pathway you walking along,
then out of no where, a living doll comes to life to scare the absolute crap out
And, thereï¿½s more ï¿½ a lot more - too
much to mention and WAY TOO MANY surprises that I refuse to spoil.
But, quickly, entire rooms collapse upon
themselves, entire rooms sway back and forth under your feet, and entire rooms
spin underneath you. Thereï¿½s an area called Apocalypse where the weirdest
creatures intermingle with and intimidate you while leaping over at least a
dozen cars, then entire redneck areas where the dregs of society come at you to
get you to stay.
You have boogeyman coming out of
closets, and strange medical areas where some of the weirdest surgeries are
Every scene is impeccably detailed and
designed, every prop and piece of scenery not only is perfectly placed inside
the scene, but more importantly added to enhance the room. It seems simple to
think that a library isnï¿½t a library without books, but its also not a library
without elaborate candelabras, statuettes, and art work. All of that is in
thereï¿½ and itï¿½s all perfectly placed to let you know you are in a library.
The scenes are like a perfect model of
what your imagination would think these scenes should look like. I want to say
the scenes are like mini-movie scenes, but only better.
The flow of the haunted house was
designed to enhance each room, building you to a crescendo where, my God, by the
time you are done, youï¿½re spent.
This is my second year reviewing Asylum
Xperiment in Villa Park, and I was in awe of it in 2011. But the issue I had
then was that the acting seemed sub par throughout the haunt.
That whole issue has completely changed.
Last year, I could count on one hand the number of good actors inside the haunt.
Now, that figure is reversed. Better, I didnï¿½t find a single actor that
wasnï¿½t immersed in their character, dropped a line, or did a bad job.
Specifically, the girl at the top of the
stairs was outstanding. The speech was incredible, her inflection wonderful, and
it was clear she was well into her eerie character. The rednecks were
outstanding, the girl in the doll room was great, the little girl in the bedroom
was psychotic and, as I already mentioned, the two in the kitchen had me throw
up in my mouth a little.
But, with that said, every single actor
at Asylum should give themselves a pat on the back. The acting coach there
deserves a raise because ï¿½he dun did whup dem dereï¿½s intu shape!!ï¿½
If I have one complaint with Asylum
Xperiment, itï¿½s that it ended at 22 minutes. And, honest to God, its not a
complaint as much as an observation: Iï¿½ve been through some haunted houses
this year where I would pull out my eyes if I had to be in there for 22 minutes
ï¿½ at Asylum Xperiment, the 22 minutes seemed like 5 minutes. I just didnï¿½t
want it to end.
So, hats off to the folks at Asylum
Xperiment in Villa Park. This haunt is truly ambitious, impressive and more than
anything else, epic.
Make sure you get out there and check it
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