Nightmares…

Blackout Elements 2013

Blackout Elements NYC: 2013

Blackout… A bit of an urban legend. Not the first haunt of the season, not the last, but most certainly my favorite. Full disclaimer before I even start the review, Blackout is an extreme haunt, no one under 18 is admitted, and you go through alone. Blackout is not for everyone, in a recent interview at ScareLA the creator of Blackout mentioned that 1 in 7 of his customers call the safe word to be escorted out of the attraction, even after signing the event waiver, being warned, and paying approximately $70 for their ticket. I will attempt to explain the experience without any spoilers due to their December run of the show in Chicago.

So, calling Blackout a haunted house is a lot like calling open heart surgery a routine doctors visit. Yes it is a ticketed attraction with actors, a dark scary maze like building, and an abundance of scary moments, but that is where the similarities end. From the moment you arrive you know you’re in for something different, as there is no line, no billboard, not even a sign out front, just a small bumper sticker on the front door of a nondescript commercial building on the South West side of New York City. Blackout is appointment only, sold out late October – November. As best I can tell, as I had a 8PM reservation on the Saturday before Halloween and was tagged as customer #12, it seems they only take a few dozen customers a night.
Blackout NYC Entrance

Blackout NYC Entrance

Walking in the cracked door, sure I was in the right place due to the address and sticker on the door, I still had a feeling I shouldn’t be there. The very first thing I noticed was a person standing on a small box in the corner, just staring at the wall. I would later meet this person outside the attraction and find that they were customer #11. The receptionist as the far side of the small lobby called me by name, quite a surprise as I’d never been there before and I was actually almost half an hour early for my appointment. I never showed I.D. and she only took a brief glance at my pre-printed ticket, so as best I can tell she must have had a picture of me behind the desk to know who I was…
The receptionist had me step up on a small platform to review ┬áthe waiver and indemnification paperwork everyone must sign prior to entering, and did her best to talk me out of the experience. No one can say that Blackout doesn’t warn you about what is to come, but there is still no way they can prepare you for it. Not being my first extreme haunt, the waiver was rather familiar, but oddly specific at times, further warning those signing of what was to come.
Once signed, stamped, and given a number tag to stick on my shirt, I too was told to go stand in the corner. I walked to another small box, stepped up, and put my nose to the wall, noticing three horizontal black dots strategically placed on the wall right in front of my face. Those three dots, were the same the receptionist marked on the inside of my left wrist, and would soon have a lot more significance.
Standing in the corner, time was passing, but there was no good way to tell how fast. At one point a person came up behind me rapidly and aggressively shined a bright flashlight around my head. I remained still with my arms held ┬ábehind my back in the position of at ease, a bit funny in retrospect as I was anything but at ease. I never actually saw the person, but I could hear the receptionist saying “He knows better” to them right before the person walked away. I also heard a scuffle as another person waiting in the lobby was removed, I assume to go into the haunt, but I really don’t know. Time dragged on, again nearly impossible to tell if I had been standing for seconds or minutes. Listening to a very eclectic bass heavy atmospheric track that filled the room was equally disorienting, and screams of “let me out of here” from the distance were all too real sounding, either from a very good actress or a very distressed customer. Finally my number was called and it was time to proceed into Blackout…
For now, the walk through ends here, I do not want to post any spoilers for those yet to see the show in Chicago. Once Blackout Elements ends it’s run, I will post the remainder of the walk through, and trust me it is a doozy. As for the part where I warned Blackout is not for everyone, I beg of you to trust me on that one. Everyone has a slightly different experience in Blackout, my experience lasted approximately 40 minutes while others I spoke with after the fact were in and out in 20. The choices you make will have an effect on your experience.
Unlike other haunted attractions where the actors may touch you, Blackout takes the concept to the extreme. In my experience I was thrown to the floor, dragged, hair pulled, climbed on, pinned, suffocated, gagged, bloodied (not my own blood), scratched, soaking wet, and most different of all and in stark contract to the other haunts I’ve seen, there was also comforting touch, hugging, and even sensual intimate contact. At Blackout you are not a guest watching a show, you are a part of the show.
The part of Blackout that there is no good way to warn a person about is the emotional impact the experience will have upon you. Unlike any traditional haunted attraction where you know everything is fake and nothing can hurt you, Blackout, even though there is a safeword and everyone you interact with is an actor, still feels, and is very real. The experience of comfort, suffocation, intimacy, pain, etc… and the brain chemicals released during cannot be faked. The situation you are experiencing is not real, however the experiences you have are VERY real. The entire cast and crew of Blackout deserves all of the credit in the world for never breaking character, to the point that much like sitting in a darkened movie theater, you find yourself in a state of total suspension of disbelief, and engrossed in the experience, not just as a person sitting in a theater seat or walking through a haunted attraction.
What did I take away from Blackout? Much like the survivor of a saw movie plot line, a little more appreciation for life, a strong reminder to value everyone who comes into your life, for better or worse, because you may never know when they might suddenly go away, and also a slight case of Stockholm syndrome.
I am ready for this experience.
I want to be a part of Blackout
I want Blackout to be a part of me
I am prepared to be marked
I give myself to you…
I am prepared to be marked

I am prepared to be marked

It’s never over…

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