The Chilling Hour is a home haunt that I have had the pleasure of seeing several times and in doing so, I have seen just how much he haunt has grown and matured over the years. One of the best things about being a critic is being able to see a haunt go from its infancy to a mature, well executed haunt. It’s a bit like raising a child. You see how things are in the early days and watch with glee as the child grows, learns and reaches their full potential. It makes me proud as a critic to see how far this haunt has come in such a short amount of time.
Don’t go thinking that just because this isn’t a commercial production that it isn’t scary. It is. I spent more time jumping and screaming in here than in some of the biggest haunts. The reason for so many scares was a phenomenal group of actors that had not only fully immersed themselves into their characters, but had mastered their execution of scares. Just when I thought I was in a safe place where there wouldn’t be too many scares for a minute, another actor would sneak up on me and scare me half to death making me want to run. This is impressive because I am extremely hard to scare, so when an actor makes me jump, they definitely get special mention. In this haunt, every actor gets special mention because each one brought their own brand of scary to the haunt. Mix them together and it truly is something special to behold. Excellent job everyone!!
Sets and effects were executed very well and nearly every scene was so detailed that I completely forgot I was walking in someone’s yard and garage with the exception of one area where the garage was a bit too visible for my liking, but it was a minor detail and the majority of the haunt was very well done. The fortune tellers room was full of eye candy and had its own brand of scare which for me was eerie and gave me chills.
Other rooms were equally detailed and offered plenty of eye candy. The nursery was very disturbing, as was the living room scene. Other scenes were done very well along the way and I kept wondering how in the world this home haunt had managed to execute so much detail without over doing it. The balance between rooms and the flow from room to room was great.
Set design ties directly in to length for me because the set design gave the illusion of a much longer haunt. Typically, home haunts feel short because of limited space. Not this one. Yes, the space is very limited, but from the inside, I couldn’t tell. The use of space was fantastic and the path took me on twists and turns that made me think I had been in there a lot longer than I actually had which was fantastic.
This haunt does not charge an admission price, but they do accept donations for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation which is an excellent cause, so bring some money to put in the donation bucket, you won’t regret it.
While there were solid scares around every corner, this haunt is a great one for the whole family (probably not the real little ones) there’s something for everyone here. Get in the car and check this one out. It’s a shame it’s only open on Halloween because there is lots of fun and screaming to be had here.
Pros: Acting, sets, scares
Cons: A couple of areas lacked details and showed some of the garage. It’s only open on Halloween.
Sometimes I have to wonder how a home haunt gets started. It’s actually a little unsettling when you think about it. Professional haunters have the promise of endless ticket sales and thirsty customers buying hot chocolate by the vat in order to keep the lights on and the animatronics oiled. But when you see a home haunt, it means that at some point a person said to the rest of his family, his neighbors, and whoever else was around to listen, “Say, I’m thinking about setting something up in my garage and on my lawn that will just make people scream.” The fact this doesn’t result in an immediate call to the police says something about the condition America is in today.
But I don’t care about any of that nonsense, because the Chilling Hour is a haunt that I was fortunate enough to go to, and which was absolutely fantastic! I don’t get a chance to shower a haunt with praise from beginning to end very often, but this one certainly calls for it. Inappropriate social commentary aside, I know exactly why someone would be willing to shake up their home all throughout October and turn it into a haunt, and that is because that person loves Halloween, all things scary, and a chance to make some people jump out of their skin with fright. If you haven’t noticed by now, this is a recipe for success. A love of the season is a key ingredient to making a good haunt, and we know it when we see it. The people that are just out to make money consistently under-perform because they just do not have the passion and love that these people do.
I’m rambling a bit because it’s hard to talk about what’s inside the haunt without giving much away. The length is perfect for the venue, and I was honestly amazed that they managed to cram as much in there as they did. The haunt feels bigger once you’ve made you way through, and somehow it’s surprising to end up at the door next to where your car is parked. Somehow, I felt as if I had traveled a lot further than I really had, and that’s all down to the creative use of routing. Every square inch of space is maximized and used to its full potential (even from the outside, you can see that the owner has gone right up to the very edge of his property line). That said, it is a home haunt, and because they’re not exactly working with an abandoned Wal-Mart’s worth of space, there aren’t a whole lot of scares, and I don’t want to give them away.
The actors are really good, though, giving amazing performances. There were several who managed to get our group with some spectacular scares, and I think it’s fair to say that we each got spooked by an actor that we didn’t see coming in any way at some point during the night. The sets are really well done as well, giving us amazing views that were surprisingly detailed, and also managing some things I had never seen before, and that seems to be a standard where some of the smaller players are concerned – they can do things more creatively and with less fear of failure than some of the larger teams. It works in indie movies, and it works in haunts too. The effects, while fewer than most other places, were well done, and there are some seriously classic ones on display here.
There is no price for admission, but donations are accepted at the door. All donations from the haunt go directly to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, so come with a few bucks in your wallet anyway – it’s for a very good cause.
Pros: Great use of misdirection, obvious care and attention to detail, clever use of a small amount of space
Cons: It was sometimes a little too easy to get ahead of the rest of the group and miss the scare
Mary Gallegos – Guest Critic
I was asked to be a guest reviewer and agreed. Having never been to a haunt before, I had no idea what to expect and was a little nervous. This was a home haunt and I felt it was really well done. I was surprised at the complexity and detail of the sets and how much was packed into such a small space (a double garage and driveway). We started out walking through a graveyard – complete with zombies – to enter the haunt. We were greeted by a fortune teller telling us the spirits were quite lively that night, and they were. The spirits made themselves known by banging lids of chests, lowering mirrors, screaming and jumping out at us. One of the rooms had polka dots on dark walls and the spirit was dressed in fabric that blended into the walls so that you were not aware of something there until it was right next to you.
I was expecting to have something or someone jumping out at me more frequently than it happened so was surprised when I got through the polka dot room without too much difficulty.
We then wandered into a strange nursery with blood on the walls and a spirit behind a mirror which lowered so the ghoul could scream at me. I was able to take that in stride, but then all of a sudden the ghoul was no longer behind the mirror but right next to me in the same room. BOO! – I jumped. Because the first room didn’t affect me, I was thoroughly surprised this time.
We wandered through a surgical room gone bad – the patient had been badly mangled (family should definitely sue for malpractice). The effects here were good, the “blood” looked wet and fresh.
We also entered a room with many snakes that sprayed us with moisture – don’t really want to know what snake part that was from. Then there was a clown room with angry faces and many weapons. I was glad to get out of that room.
All in all, I was impressed and enjoyed my first haunt.
Pros: The amount packed into the haunt for such a small space, the quality of the acting and the detail of the sets.
Cons: The only con for me was being sprayed in the face with the water. That was no problem except that I wear glasses and then vision became a problem for me in such a small and dark space. I would suggest in the future people with glasses be sprayed on other body parts so that they can take place in the fun without the vision problem later. This could be a safety issue for someone.
Rob Sanchez – Alumni Critic
When I learned at the last minute of this home haunt in Broomfield, and discovered it was within walking distance of my house, I assumed it couldn’t be very good if I hadn’t even heard of it. Plus, it was the second evening of their two-night run, which landed on November 1st. I figured they wouldn’t be able to pull off much of a scare after Halloween was over.
Boy, was I wrong. The Chilling Hour was easily one of the very best home haunts I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen too many to count. Over a decade ago, my family built a home haunt that wowed three neighborhoods. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, our home haunt from that year has been the golden standard to which I’ve compared every home haunt since. And I’m not the least bit ashamed to report to you that The Chilling Hour simply blows our old home haunt away.
The tricky part in reviewing this haunt is that it’s not an entirely fair comparison – that is, using the same criteria I would use to score a commercial haunted attraction. But I felt that I would be doing The Chilling Hour’s cast and crew a disservice if I were to go easy on them simply because they’re a home haunt. I employed the same critical eye I would apply to any other haunt, and I scored them as if they were a commercial haunted attraction. If nothing else, they certainly approach their home haunt with the seriousness and enthusiastic fervor of professionals.
The consequent result from me was an overall score of 8. And in a season where at least a third of the professional attractions in the metro area scored a 6 or 7, if you’re a home haunt who pulls a solid 8, that’s outstanding. It means you’re doing a lot of things right.
When we pulled up, the first thing I noticed was plywood walls extending to the very edge of the property line – all the way to the sidewalk in front, and right up to the fence on the sides. They know it’s a home haunt and that space is a valuable commodity, so they’ve used literally every square inch available.
The opening scene was a front-yard graveyard. It’s an obnoxiously common cliché, but it still worked out thanks to a few excellent zombies with enough shuffle-and-growl perfection to rival any actor on The Walking Dead.
The main haunt begins upon leaving the graveyard and entering the garage. I was blown away by how many pieces of décor they worked into each scene. The level of detail was something I would expect from a haunt that stays up year-round, and certainly not a home haunt. I counted off some minor points for a few spaces in the early scenes where regular garage items were still visible by looking up, and a huge, distracting pile of supplies and boxes parked under a canopy between the graveyard and the entrance. With just a bit more effort at disguising, it would be easy to completely forget this was set up inside someone’s garage and yard.
Some scenes deserving special mention were the exquisitely detailed fortune teller room, a fantastically demented nursery, a superb butcher shop, and one room (I don’t want to spoil it by saying which) that employed a brilliant drop-window scare. (I’ve seen hundreds of drop scares and can spot one a mile away. This one, I’m so glad to say, was so strategically placed and crafted that it completely surprised me, causing the best reaction of my entire night.)
The only scene severely lacking in design was the carnival, which felt like they tried to make the scene fit the space, instead of successfully making the space fit the scene. Even the brilliant clown actor and his nightmare-inducing laugh weren’t enough to save this scene from playing out as a minor disappointment.
The actors were excellent and earned my highest score among the four categories in this haunt. We stepped over a knife-wielding killer who stayed so perfectly still that he finally convinced me he wasn’t alive, making the scare intense when he finally sprang to life. The man in the nursery was excellent, and the girl behind the drop scare was even more excellent. The fortune teller was very authentic-looking, but the scare in this room didn’t provide the payoff I hoped. The chainsaw man gets special mention for impeccable timing and for preventing us from smelling or hearing the chainsaw in advance. The glowing polka-dot room was well-constructed, but the actor could have improved the scare by waiting a few moments longer before making his reveal. And I have to make special mention of two faceless-hooded characters, one completely in black and one with a red hood whose timing was spot-on and gave me the second-best scares of the whole haunt.
Length received my lowest score for this attraction (a 7, or “Pretty Good”) because it felt a bit short compared to normal haunts. But this is one of those instances where rating a home haunt against a commercial haunt doesn’t do adequate justice, because the shorter length was strictly due to the small footprint of space available, and not to any lack of space utilization by the designers themselves.
It’s really saying something when you create a home haunt good enough to be compared to commercial haunted attractions, and The Chilling Hour pulled it off beautifully. The passion of the entire cast and crew was evident throughout, and the fact that they collect donations for diabetes research is just icing on the cake. I can’t wait to see what they do in 2015, and I’ll be back with a full entourage to find out.
|920 Coral St
|October 31st & November 1st 6:30-10:30pm|
|The Chilling Hour|