Haunted Attraction Preview: Jon Braver Talks Delusion: Masque of Mortality
Last year we called it “the most entertaining, engaging, inventive, creepy, and downright fun live-action horror experience [we’ve] ever had.” This past week we took a walk-through of the 2013 iteration, Delusion: Masque of Mortality, and we’re hopeful for more of the same. Read on!
Created by Hollywood stuntman Jon Braver and produced by Neil Patrick Harris, the attraction came into existence in 2011 with Delusion and its follow-up Delusion: The Blood Rite, both of which were held in a 100-year-old plus manse on S. Harvard in Los Angeles, CA (the impressive structure incidentally was also used in Rob Zombie’s feature Halloween, among other productions). Both of those live-action theatre experiences featured cinematic setups, top-notch FX, and altogether immersive and enthralling narratives, which for their forty-five-minute runtimes forced audiences to become the laughing and screaming stars of their very own live-action horror film.
We here at Dread Central were, quite simply, blown-away (have a look at our review from last year).
With 2013, the attraction has grown even more in scope and as such has moved into a larger (and even more foreboding) location: Bethany Presbyterian Church, located in Silverlake, CA (1629 Griffith Park Blvd.). So, last Thursday, with anticipation akin to a child on Christmas Eve, I paid a visit to the venue of Delusion: Masque of Mortality to meet with Delusion owner/director/producer Braver, who provided a tease of the locale and discussed this year’s show.
“There are new and big things,” stated Braver of Delusion: Masque of Mortality, which will plunge groups of ten into a forty-five-minute experience, with additional time at the attraction’s integrated bar for attendees to seek refuge.
“We have found this terrifying new venue,” he commented, as led me inside the church. “It’s 33,000 square feet, with a surrounding building, and it’s in a sick neighborhood and a truly awesome spot! The venue lends itself to the type of stories I like to tell. It has a strange, palpable energy about it. We are very fortunate to have this place. A pretty ambitious woman owns it, and many other L.A. hot spots, so we have quite the collaboration on our side!”
As for the storyline, we asked Braver if Masque of Mortality was a continuation of last year’s The Blood Rite, or if it is to be an entirely new beast.
“It’s a bit of a loose spin-off, but a completely new story,” he stated. “Guests will embark on a dark and disturbing adventure through the building and the church. We secured the venue pretty late in the season, so I’m still writing and sifting through some super fun ideas! I’m nearly finished but what I have so far feels damn good. I’ve had a really interesting year, with some really fun and unbelievably wonderful successes, and some really annoying setbacks. I don’t want to take out my frustrations on our amazing audience, but I’m going to put them in some mentally tough spots. One thing I should probably say is I think this play may be a bit more controversial, particularly for the devout. It has a dark morality to it, if you will.”
Probing him, Braver offered of the narrative of Masque of Mortality, “The show is based around the year 1930. The story revolves around the audience themselves, who’ve been wandering for years searching for this last refuge, which has many rumors attached to it, both good and bad. Once they step foot onto the property the story begins.”
“The bar within the show this year is also an integral part of the story,” he continued (note: you must be 21 or over to attend), “where people are holed up and drinking and laughing and dancing, and kind of masking the reality of the situation around them. Over time, close quarters breed dissent, anger and frustration. So now, the inhabitants of the refuge have split off, sort of like Lord of the Flies, and [there are] dark rumors of a strange cult known as ‘The Doctors’ [who[ have taken over parts of the building and claimed them as their own. Parts of one of these factions have slipped into the bar, and they take the audience with them in an attempt to infiltrate the church and building in an effort to find out what’s going on.”
Given the perfect recipe that was last year’s attraction, we asked Braver how far he’s strayed creatively from that approach.
“It’s a bit more of a mystery this year, but it’s still absolutely terrifying and psychologically disturbing horror!” he assured us. “There will be some pretty heart-stopping and disturbing choices required of the audience this year, but it will all be encompassed within the story, and they will be terrifying and fun, and at the end of the day, it will be a night to remember! I’m sticking with the formula that seemed to have worked over the last couple of years. I was really happy with it, and the response, so I don’t want to change the concept or the immersive aspects, but I do want to create a new story.”
As for the future of Delusion, Braver told us, “We have plans for venues in Chicago and New York as well by 2015, where we want to keep the momentum going with this sort of cultish, underground theatre if you will. We also have plans for a year-round attraction too, and that’s in the planning stages.”
Like a film one anticipates passionately (which one would rather not spoil by watching its trailers), I cut our interview and walk-through at that time, knowing that I’d rather experience this year’s attraction like a babe in the woods. You should, too.
Expect a review from Dread at the end of this month.
Delusion: Masque of Mortality kicks off on September 26th. Tickets are $56 each for the first two nights and $60 for the remaining dates (valet parking will be available). For more visit the official Delusion website, "like" Delusion on Facebook, and follow Delusion on Twitter.
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