Everyone should be this afraid at least once
November 9, 2021
Westfield High School Theatre’s Haunted Stage is the premier frightful attraction taking place around Halloween. After visiting this haunted house-style experience for the first time with no prior knowledge of haunted attractions to speak of, I can confidently say that I am now an adrenaline junkie.
The tension began mounting as soon as I stepped into the narrow theatre hallway under a single string of red party lights. In the shadows, my mind ran wild wondering what would be waiting beyond the mysterious double doors. Zombies? Clowns? Maybe even zombie clowns? I shuddered at the thought. Little did I know, the reality would be even worse.
We were assembled into small groups to pass through the Haunted Stage in order to give us the illusion of safety. Tour guides with dim lights briefed us on the basic rules and instructed us to follow them, but were cryptic in answering any specific questions about what would be inside. Even still, I was relatively calm. I never got the impression of a noticeable commotion going on inside the attraction. After establishing with my group what our policies on swearing would be, I swaggered into the haunted house, chest puffed out.
As soon as the doors closed behind us, my senses were assaulted from every direction. The lighting and sounds were volatile and disorienting— I barely noticed where I was walking when I suddenly found myself in perhaps the most horrifying kitchen to ever exist. It was as if I had been teleported from my world to a crazy death dimension. What looked like a giant meat cleaver was chopping on a countertop.
The thing that shocked me most was the chilling effect of the screams. It is not every day that you get the opportunity to hear the sound of a human in genuine terror, and there was nobody in the school more qualified than the theatre department to recreate that sound. The shrieks and wails of the mutilated people that would spring to life as we walked past made me genuinely uncomfortable.
The whole experience was extremely sensory, and even though none of the actors ever attempted to physically touch you, it was still immersive and interactive. Being shouted at or stalked down a passageway by some abomination that you can barely see is jarring. The unexpected is a huge element of horror, and there was no shortage of it in Haunted Stage. The actors make you feel legitimately vulnerable.
While I consider myself a fairly tough person, I walked out of the Haunted Stage with a strong urge to call for my mother. If you have never had the pleasure of being frightened by a bunch of thespians yourself, I strongly recommend it. With such a good scare being available within our own school building, you have no excuse to skip Haunted Stage next year.