Last year, famed Hollywood stuntman Jon Braver unleashed DELUSION onto unsuspecting Los Angelinos. It was a unique hybrid between live theatre and a haunted attraction that sent you running for your life through a creepy mansion full of psychopaths and death-defying stunts.
The sheer ingenuity of it blew my mind and I was hoping that it would be the first of many annual haunts we’d see from this team.
Well wonders never cease because Braver has returned to the scene, teaming up with the great Neil Patrick Harris for a follow-up round of mayhem with DELUSION: THE BLOOD RITE. Stepping onto the site of the looming white mansion near downtown L.A., ticketholders are ushered into a Victorian style bar to suck down novelty drinks (tasty concoctions like “Blood Type-O” and “Gravekeepers Grog”) while they wait and are informed “not to touch the actors back.” That’s right: back. If you thought you’d be an unaffected bystander here, think again.
Groups of twelve are taken into the foreboding mansion and are quickly filled in on the plot: The setting is 1918 and you assume the role of a group of World War I veterans who have felt a strange supernatural pull to the mansion of Dr. Frederick Lowell. The deceased owner was of the mad-scientist type and his home is now populated by former patients, all of whom are mad, psychotic and possess crazy supernatural abilities. Without saying too much, your presence there opens up a giant can of worms and it’s up to you to survive the night through a series of ghoulish tests.
This year, the number of performers, set pieces and stunts have tripled, and Braver has amped up the interactive elements to make every person a full-fledged participant in the horror. Don’t expect to simply walk through and be a passive observer here. Every room had us interacting with the performers and environment in order to progress the story (think the world’s most demented LARP game) and Braver & Co invent all sorts of wild tasks for you to perform. I wouldn’t dream of spoiling all the surprises in store, but let’s just say that one of the tamer moments had this writer physically moving a body across the room as “bait.”
DELUSION is not about people in rubber masks jumping out of the darkness to make you jump. This haunt is largely driven by story and exposition which makes for a more immersive experience and scares that are a lot more fun – especially when your actions have dire repercussions on certain members of your group. In fact, Braver and Harris have gone to great lengths to ensure that no two people will experience Delusion the same way.
I can’t say enough about the stunt work on display here: It’s truly jaw-dropping. This isn’t the typical action you’d find on a stage or theme park stunt show… this is real deal Hollywood stuff; the kind of chaos you’d see in a big-screen Hollywood possession movie only it’s being performed live and all around you. Actors don’t merely pop out of the shadows, they scurry up walls and fly through the air thanks to expertly-timed wirework and lighting.
I won’t mince words: DELUSION is the most impressive Halloween attraction I’ve ever seen, and makes all other haunts seem like school-yard amateurs. Braver, Harris and the team have effectively evolved the haunted house business into the next great thing in live entertainment. If you do one thing this October, make sure it’s this because you won’t find anything else out there like it.
DELUSION: THE BLOOD RITE is running now through November 10th. Book your tickets at Haunted Play online or regret it forever.
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