Saturday night was my second visit with NYC Blackout House. Blackout is known for a couple of things that set them apart from your run of the mill haunted house.
1. You must go alone.
2. You can (and will) be touched.
3. You have a safety word.
4. You must be 18 to enter
Actually I don’t think they consider themselves a haunted house. I would compare the experience to being in a Saw movie. Maybe not “boo” scary, but uncomfortable to watch.
In case you are interested, here is my review from 2013: https://mdracereviews.com/2013/10/13/nyc-blackout-haunted-house-review/
This year you had to be part of a group (they did have some solo tickets available for specific times) which was a big departure for the event. Purists were not pleased, but I was willing to give it a try.
Another change this year was I was joined by my sister Kim and her friend Peter (my brother was sick). We had tickets for 9pm and arrived at the House 10 minutes early. Last year the location was only marked with 3 black dots. This year we had an actual sign.
We waited out in the cold, wind and the rain for 15 minutes before finally getting into the warm building. Our next stop was with the bag check person. At this point you are directed not to speak and to memorize the safe word “Safety”. One by one you are sent alone down a staircase to….
…wait with a group of about 12 people, lined up 2 deep along the wall in the dark. Loud annoying music is pumped into the area. Despite being told to remain silent, there is a lot whispering and joking going on, with one guy pulling out his cellphone to update his Facebook status. (they were much more controlling at this stage last year).
You were also given one last chance to use the restroom at this point. You couldn’t go alone though. Once inside you were treated to side by side toilets. One girl who was paired with a gentleman said “you made friends real fast”. This is an example of what Blackout likes to do to you: put you in uncomfortable situations.
From the group of 12, you were chosen one by one at random to…
…wait some more in a group of six. It was also at this point our trio was parceled out among three separate groups of six. Knowing what I know now, I am glad I was in a different group from my sister. We had 5 guys and 1 girl in our group. They were all strangers.
Finally, after about an hour (total) of waiting, our group is led away from the holding area(s). You only walk about ten feet down the hall to a small dark room where you are told to sit down and you are given headphones to put on. Last year they used this opportunity to tie plastic bags around your feet. This year they go over the rules and safe word (again) in English and Japanese(?). This is your last chance to chicken out and you are notified that if 2 group members use the safety word, the whole group is done. You are then directed to climb over your seat into the darkness and to follow the white line on the floor.
This was one of the creepier moments for me. I was one of the first people over my seat and into the darkness. I couldn’t see crap, but always felt like someone was nearby as I scooted forward into the unknown. I wish they had used this area to deliver a few more scares. A whisper or a just a slight touch would go a long ways towards being creepy. The darkness finally gives way to a lit staircase and the first actual room.
Wee Willy Winkie: This room has random jerky images projected over all four walls. The centerpiece is a naked, bloodied man standing near a door with 6 different colored locks. His ramblings are incoherent to me but he makes his intentions known by showing you 6 keys which he drops between pallets that lay across the floor. He harasses different people while you frantically try and open the locks. He makes one of the men in our group get on his knees and open his mouth. He continues spouting gibberish as he pries open the guy’s mouth with both hands. He shouts something about “putting it in”. As quickly as it started, it is over and he ushers us all through the door.
The Grate Girl: We arrive in a dark hallway to find ourselves standing on some metal grating. Below one of the grated sections of flooring is a young Asian woman who pleaded with us to let her out. We just stood around and stared at her for a minute before she demanded we let her out. ***If you are ever thrust into a similiar situation, the horror movie rules dictate that you should never ever let her out*** That being said, we let her out. She proceeded to make us get on our knees and made one of the guys take off his shirt(s). She used lipstick to draw on his face and write on his chest. She passes our group along to another Asian girl who leads us to our next stop.
The Bathroom Girl: The bathroom probably did not receive an “A” rating from the local health department. The toilets looked to be filled with nastiness. The sink/trough was littered with water bottles and hopefully water. Our new guide made us all stick our hands under the faucets for a minute. I imagined we would soon be elbow deep in whatever filth filled the 2 disgusting stalls nearby. She placed 2 people next to each stall and then had me blindfold one of the other guys in our group. I didn’t do it well enough and was told to do it better (I obliged). She then bent him over the sink/trough and told me to hold him down. At this point I thought she was going to stick his face under water. Instead, she climbed above him and planted her feet by either side of his head. After some moaning and groaning she drenched him with what I hoped was water (or she has a large bladder and is very well hydrated). We are then ushered down the hall and up the stairs to our next stop.
Wrapped Up: We were led up the stairs where we are basically wrapped up together (one guy somehow avoided being gift wrapped). They used clear plastic wrap to wind around the group a couple of times. If you are claustrophobic this might be an unpleasant experience for you. I didn’t really mind although it was awkward as they ushered us down the hall to our next station.
Hunger Games Girl: We were led to a woman kneeling in a small cage who beckoned us closer before cutting off our plastic wrap. She pulled me closer to her through the bars and whispered “It needs to come out”. She held me tightly by the neck while moaning and reaching down between her feet. She then presented me with a orange-ish/red-ish warm noodly mess which I was told to eat. I knew if I thought too much I would never do it, so I just dug in. My guess is that it was buttered noodles with some coloring added. That is what I hope it was. She ordered me to eat, chew and swallow. I did, but I would not have ordered seconds. Surprisingly there was no after-dinner mints available.
A Couple of Shades of Grey Room: After “dinner” we were pulled into a room and ordered to bend over and place our faces on the top of a bar. One by one we were pulled from this position to the other end of the room were 2-3 females ordered you simulate different things with other members of your group. This is when I was glad not to be with my sister. I had to lay on my chest on the floor with my head in a box. The female of the group was told to simulate humping me. I got the easy end of all of this. One guy had to take off his pants and receive a spanking by one of the other guys. Then they switched places. Not sure what happened to everyone else since my head was in a box. My sister reported having water poured down the back of her pants. After my humping I was led on my knees to the stairs and ordered to go down.
Breathing is Over Rated: This led to being pushed against a wall and having a plastic bag being placed over your head. If you remained calm, there was room to breathe. At least until someone came by and clamped their hand over your mouth. It got a little harder to remain calm at that point. They led you down a hallway while suffocating you. If you were gonna lose your shit and use the safety word, this would be a good time (it would be if you could talk or breath). It probably lasts no more than 10-15 seconds but it can feel much longer. You are then put on your knees (again) and told to crawl. The next thing you know, you are stood up, bag removed, and told to get out. The experience ends abruptly just like last year.
I know some folks weren’t thrilled with the idea of going through with a group versus going through as an individual. I didn’t mind. I agree that the experience was less personal, but I got some chuckles from watching other people react to what was happening. I am sure the decision was somewhat based on making more money. Blackout had slots available to go solo, but they were more expensive. I was OK with paying less and having a group. I can understand the desire to go alone and I am OK with Blackout charging those individuals more for the experience.
I think Blackout did a good job at making you feel uncomfortable by placing you in situations you would normally never be part of. I do think they could work in some more creepy moments in the dark. You probably won’t get scared, but you should feel a little disturbed by the time you are kicked to the curb. We had enough fun that we all agreed we would give it a try next year.
For more information: http://www.theblackoutexperience.com/