Mute Manor 2013

Scare FactorActingSets/FXLengthOverall

Kris Kropelnicki

Mute Manor is the newest creation from the twisted minds at MorbidNights Colorado. Following the previous years’ serial killer theme, MorbidNights brings our most notorious killers out of the headlines and into our lives, up close and personal.

The back story is about one crazed physician, Dr. Jeniks. It is alleged that the crazed doctor sewed the mouths shut of his family members. His madness deepened as a result of constantly listening to the muffled cries and screams of his family but, worse than those cries was the deafening silence that consumed his soul when the crying and screaming stopped.

As the madness takes Dr. Jeniks into the deepest recesses of his disturbed mind he becomes more and more dangerous to anyone that comes near him. Those who had the misfortune to knock on his door were quickly whisked inside to meet an awful fate.

As I entered the home of Dr. Jeniks, I was impressed with the entry façade and the first room of the haunt. The walls were distressed nicely and set design was good and matched the scene. I enjoyed the route by which I gained access to the rest of the haunt, (I’m not telling as it would be a spoiler), but I felt like it lacked the punch I expected from it.  Adding length to this access would improve it dramatically, as well as a well disguised actor waiting on the other side to get me before I could actually regain my bearings from the route by which I gained entry.

Sets throughout the haunt were pretty good however, the hallways leading from scene to scene were pretty sparse and lacked actors. The hallways did have blood splatters and bloody hand prints on them, but this wasn’t enough to provide full immersion in the story. Adding pictures, wall sconces, maybe a hall table here and there would make it seem more realistic and keep the empty halls from breaking the flow.  There are also many great startle scare points that aren’t being used. What I’d like to see is more depth to the story; tell about the esteemed doctor and his amazing talents, then as he begins to go insane, tell of his decline within society, finally ending in seclusion and complete derangement. Make the scenes match the story, impeccable décor in the beginning, certificates, glowing news articles and awards hang in frames on the walls. As his reality becomes more and more distorted, the condition of the home declines with him. No awards or certificates now, news articles of his recent failures and being stripped of his license, etc. are randomly plastered on the walls, more dust, cobwebs, etc. Take the manor from bright and full of life to darkness, filled with despair. Something along these lines would really build the suspense and catapult this haunt to its full potential as guests would journey deeper and deeper into the insanity with every step, allowing for full suspension of disbelief.

Acting was done well by the actors playing the doctor and one of his victims. They were very believable and intense and did a great job of staying in character. There was a scene with two females and one was in the process of butchering the other. The murderous one came flying over a table at our group and was quite scary initially but then lost the punch she had created by simply screaming. Had she said something disturbing to us it would have really raised the scare level up here.  Other actors did nothing more than scream or make “grrrrrrrr” noises which wasn’t effective. Adding dialogue and making eerie sounds would have changed this dramatically. Getting actors completely immersed in their characters would improve performances greatly. Really let yourselves go and slip fully into your roles.

Makeup and costumes were very well done for some actors, some not so much. I counted 3 actors that were all wearing the exact same thing, a black gown with jagged hems on the sleeves and bottom and little to no makeup. Because the story has us going through the mad doctors’ manor, maid/butler uniforms and regular street clothes for the era would have worked much better than the black robes. They just didn’t fit the scenes and their repetition made their costumes appear as though creativity had lost its momentum.

This haunt is known for always changing theme year after year in order to prevent becoming stagnant which I appreciate however, I believe that if they chose a solid them that they could grow with and develop it would go a long way in improving every aspect. Changing theme every year prevents the haunt from reaching full maturity and potential and I would much rather watch it develop over time and maximize potential than see a totally new haunt every season.

This is a good haunt for the pre-teen and teen groups and those that scare quite easily. Seasoned haunt goers may find that this haunt is a bit too tame for them.

Pros: Improved sets, some actors very intense, makeup on some characters was very good

Cons: Lack of intensity and dialogue in some actors, costuming, sparse halls

Alex Gallegos

Mute Manor in Greeley is an interesting haunt experience to say the least. Prepare yourself once again to enter into the deranged lair of a doctor who’s gone completely bonkers and is taking it out on the patients, only the patients are you and your friends. So, you know, that’s going to be a bummer.

The orderly who greeted us said that the good doctor went crazy and sewed his family’s mouths shut in 2006, then got a bit lonely because nobody would talk to him, which seems like more of a problem for Dr. Phil than for me, to be perfectly honest, and I’m not quite sure how I got roped into this to begin with – probably an experience I’d rather forget involving huge quantities of Ouzo. Nevertheless my friends and I were encouraged to enter the doctor’s sanctuary of torture and pain (through the fireplace, no less, so apparently the doctor’s been butchering the local building code as well) and for reasons that escape me at the moment, we did.

It became obvious pretty quickly after we entered that reports of the doctor’s insanity were greatly understated, because he was quite clearly nutso, spaced out, off his rocker whacko, and that was just in the reception area. Things took a particularly dark turn in the dining room but modesty prevents me from going into too much detail. The doctor says at one point that he sewed his victims’ mouths shut because he couldn’t stand their screams, but it doesn’t seem like it’s been a particularly effective tactic because all of the victims were still a bit screamy anyway, just a little muffled. A more effective technique would probably be to completely remove the voice box but then again, when has any of us ever known a doctor not to have you back for an expensive follow up procedure six months later? I see that the AMA’s rigid standards of quality control are still in place, har har. That said, the few patients that we did see were indeed sewed up in the mouth and the make-up for that effect was particularly effective (and by effective I mean disturbing and by disturbing I mean I threw up a little in my mouth).

The actors do a pretty marvelous job, and all of them were able to convince me of their emotional state without overselling it. The old clichés really weren’t there, which was a good thing – if one more ghoulish individual encourages me to “Get out!” at any point this year there’s a very good chance I will scream for all the wrong reasons. There was one young lady who came at us in a whole room filled with doors trying to find the way out, a not-unreasonable request that I shared at the moment, but when we did find the correct door she suddenly lost all enthusiasm for going on and decided her best course of action was to have a little lie down in one of the doorways instead. She did a great job selling the emotion of the scene, I won’t fault her for that, but this is a role I’ve seen in a lot of haunts over the last three years and it’s never made sense to me. If you’re begging for me to release you and get you to safety, then there has to be some reason why you won’t actually come with me when an open door is right there in front of you, allowing you free and unimpeded access to the outside world. Either an orderly could burst out of another door and drag her away, or she could have been fitted with a shock collar that tazed her into a stupor, or maybe something in the corridor revealed beyond the door was so terrifying that she screams and runs off in the other direction. Then again maybe I’m alone and this makes sense to everyone else but me.

The set design was a bit lacking in a few areas, with some of the rooms feeling just a bit more sparse than I would have liked, but this added to the clinical feeling that the setting calls for anyway. It’s never firmly established where we are – a hospital, a nursing home, the doctor’s private practice, or perhaps his own home. There’s a butcher’s shop with meat hanging in a cooler and a chapel, two things I’m prepared to accept as being part of a hospital of some sort, although somehow I think St. Jude’s probably just ships in meat in a vacu-pack rather than hanging fresh corpses from the ceiling on meat hooks, but then, where did the inexplicable circus-themed room with a couple of deranged clowns in it come from? The pediatrics wing? Also there were a couple times where we reached dead ends and weren’t immediately sure where to go – in a haunt one never knows upon reaching a door whether we’re invited to touch it and go through (you’re usually told not to touch anything in a haunt so doors are always a grey area), or if it means we’re supposed to wait for something to happen, but the delays were pretty minimal and we got back on track again in a few moments, so that’s not a huge complaint.

Overall, Mute Manor gets my recommendation. It’s not the scariest experience you’ll have all year – no, that’ll have to wait for Thanksgiving when that creepy uncle everyone hopes isn’t coming this year shows up with an entirely unreasonable amount of Cool Whip. But it’s a solid production and the actors are all doing their best to make sure they sell you on the experience of what they’re doing. It might not be worth it to drive all the way up from Denver for it unless your obsession for haunts is absolutely off the charts (like ours is), but if you live in the area you should probably check it out.

PROS: Great acting, makeup was very well done, relating the backstory to me beforehand gives me a sense of what I’m doing in the situation.

CONS: A couple rooms don’t make sense, sets are a little sparse on decoration, there were a couple points where walls didn’t quite line up and I could see into the adjacent rooms when I wasn’t supposed to.

Marlena Baker

Mute Manor had a good start. It started with a story. I love when haunts have a story, a common thread to tie it all together. I love it even more when haunts stick to their story. Unfortunately, Mute Manor wandered away from the story more often than not. The beginning all tied in very well. I just wish the whole haunt had stuck with the theme. It’s a mistake I see over and over and over, the desire to touch on all the common fears. We need clowns, and so on. The problem with that mentality is that as soon as I walk into a neon painted room with clowns in it, I’ve completely lost the idea that I’m actually in a mad doctor’s house of horror.

The actors gave a good effort at selling the theme. The mad doctor and his victim were awesome! Even better, they had the two characters appear in two different scenes, giving the manor scenes the feel of a complete house. There were some other examples of good acting throughout the rest of the haunt, but they were punctuated by some characters that were far less convincing. In one room, the character is acting trapped, like she’s searching for an exit with us. When it became available, however, she stays in the room as we move on. It stood out, and maybe means her character needs to be adjusted, maybe grabbed by another actor, so she can’t move forward. Other than that, there were some very generic parts, with the usual “Get out!” lines and the like. I would like to note, that while I hate random clown rooms, the clowns’ acting was great.

The sets fluctuated between good detail and bland walls. The hallways were especially bland. They really relied on actors to make those parts of the haunt interesting. However, without the scenes the actors can only do so much. Mute Manor needs to spend some time on atmosphere. I’d love to have some sense that I’m walking through a house as I walked through the hallways. The décor for the beginning and the dining room fit the theme so well. Even the entry to the haunt is a house door. Bring some of that same atmosphere into the hallways. The other rooms that departed from the theme could be the other rooms of the house, or have the end of the haunt seem to descend into a home-made basement dungeon.

Overall, I’d just like to see the theme continue and the atmosphere uphold it. Mute Manor has some great ideas behind it. It even makes a good start at realizing those ideas. However, to try and hit all the classic horror themes, they wandered away from the theme at the cost of immersion. Being trapped in a psychopathic serial killer’s house would be terrifying. I’d love to stay in that mentality.

Pros: Good concept, some strong acting, good transitions
Cons: Need cohesion, better writing for actors, blank hallways

Jason Peterson

Located in the Greely Mall this Haunt is themed after The Mad doctor Jenkins and his insane ideas. Loaded with all types of different characters from doctors to clowns and gas mask wielding killers – and yes even Santa plays a role in the dreaded Mute Manor!

This haunt seemed as though it would be smaller than last years. Once inside I was surprised to see a complete layout change from last year’s haunt. I know from experience just how much goes into changing themes and blueprints, locations and even actors. I love the owner’s enthusiasm and energy for Haunting.

Acting in this year’s theme was definitely more rehearsed and it felt believable. The Doctor himself has company tied and mouth sewn shut for dinner. I’m guessing he just didn’t want to hear what she wanted for desert. These two actors were great. This scene packed a pretty good disturbing punch to get this haunt rolling.

We did get the pleasure of running into the gruesome twosome in another room later into our journey. Watch out for the face eating crazy in the bloody pipe hall! She is on top of her game as well. One room that really stood out was the Christmas living area complete with a Christmas tree topped with a severed head and a very sad and quiet elf. Apparently Santa had the night off so the elf didn’t have much to share with us except his sad and lonely little elven face while tearing at teddy bear. We hear Santa is a real beast of a man.

This haunt being one if the first to open this season had its acting pretty tight and sets were done with a decent enough amount of detail.

I did run into a few areas of the Manor that are constructed with black plastic walls. The owner was questioned as to why at this level of haunting would he still be using it. He did explain that the haunt was still under construction, and Distortions Unlimited is constructing an amazing prop to be installed later on in the season as well as some other animations to be tweaked by the amazing FX company. I hope for a return to see these amazing effects in action.

I did enjoy this haunt it had some pretty cool sets. I like to see the entire show up and running before they open the doors.

I almost feel that opening early hurt this haunt a little in the overall set design. I would like to see this haunt stick to theme a few seasons and get some wicked sets going. Changing theme should take a good amount of money and tons off season set design.

Pros: Good acting, lots of startle scares

Cons: Plastic in use as walls, No ambient sound allows us to hear too much of groups in front of us and behind.

Peyton Lucero

Walking up to the Greeley Mall, we were instructed to wait outside the entrance to the haunted house that was taken over by an insane, lonely, and psychotic serial killer. After a few minutes, we were finally able to enter. Walking up to the queue line, I saw wall panels with blood spattered here and there along with a couple brick walls. I could hear lots of screaming and shouting so it definitely sounded like they were waiting for fresh meat.  “Knock, knock” went the door and in we went.

Walking into the first room was a kick. The actor was in this run down, but homey feeling place with a lovely fire pit. Cooler thing was, we got to interact with it. There was a crazy doctor looking dude on the loose and had women tied down everywhere we went, either screaming from mouth wounds, leg wounds, or just plain fear. They were awesome, intense and kept up with their dialogue in a steady maintained manner.

There were quite a few sets to gaze upon, with an actor in each room and ready for action. There were sets from butcher shops, and dentists, to churches and Christmas. Most actors were spot on with their roles and dialogue, but there were a few who kind of seemed to stumble a little bit or thought too hard about the dialogue that in the end there was silence. What might help with this situation is maybe the actors can feed off each other, whether they are put together or in separate rooms. Especially when there’s not much music background but just screaming and shouting, the character of the sets should hear that, and know that’s their call for acting insane! When you first set up for the scare, think about your surroundings, props, and dialogue you could use to quickly scare or disgust the customer out. Remember, even if you know you didn’t scare them, don’t hold back and getting in their comfort level and grossing them out with your words. That’s just as scary!

The sets were pretty cool but seemed to be a bit scattered and spread out. One room I really liked was the locker/ clothes area. That had some great work put in it. Maybe to help flow with the haunt a little better is having extra actors doing any type of creepy crawls, twitches, weird noises, or anything else you’d think a serial killer or psychopath would do, down in the long corridors. That would definitely amp up the fear, energy, and emotions in the long twists and turns of this haunted house.

Overall, the experience was fun and much more exciting than last year. They definitely stepped up their game and the actors were much more intense and interesting to hear and watch! Good job guys! The theme of this haunt was hard to detect at first,  but once I got half way through, and knowing from last year’s knowledge,  that this was definitely a haunt themed off of a certain serial killer who eventually took over and started to kill everyone and everything in his path. This is a great haunt for kids and adults that like horror, who won’t get too scared but scared enough that you could manage to have some type of accident.

Pros- actors’ dialogue and intensity, good lighting, set work

Cons- make-up, some costumes, repetitive dialogue

Crystal Gallagher

This haunt was the first one I’ve ever been to. I liked the theme of a mad doctor who sewed his victims’ mouths shut. The actor playing the doctor and his main victim were convincing and entertaining – I liked them quite a bit. The introduction room and speech was lovely, and the method of entrance was a nice touch. If the haunt had kept in this vein, I do believe I would have loved it. However, much of the haunt departed from this. I appreciated the dialogue of the random clowns, although I didn’t really get why they were there. My immersion and suspension of disbelief were definitely interrupted by this and a couple of other scenes. I would have really liked the church room if it had somehow been integrated into the theme – perhaps this could have been an asylum instead of the doctor’s house. That would give a bit more room to stretch what does and doesn’t belong. Some sort of ambient noise or music would have also helped with the sense of immersion.

The main reason why I didn’t find this haunt particularly frightening was that it was predictable. If there was a blind corner, there was someone in black behind it waiting to jump out and make noises. I could see most of the scares coming, and this was my first haunt. Building suspense is a big part of a good scare – give me a stretch where there could be someone behind that door, around that corner – but there’s not. Then when someone is there, it’s simply not what’s expected.

As far as the sets went, this haunt alternated between detailed rooms that felt well planned and very sparse areas. The detailed areas were nicely done, but the bits in between had white walls and sparse decorations. I would have liked to have seen the illusion kept up during the in between bits as well. It was also not entirely clear where one was supposed to go, with all the walls looking the same. At one point, I came to what appeared to be a dead end, with white walls on all sides in front of me, and no actor nearby to make the way clear. After some confusion, I pushed on one of those walls and it swung open. This could have been really cool if it had been made to look like a secret door or some such that one was supposed to go through, but instead it just came across as half finished set design.

Pros: Really good main actors, interesting theme

Cons: Needs more work on set design and integration, several actors all in black with no character

Eric Guetterman

Mute Manor starts solidly with a back story and a clever transition into the experience but I lost the story somewhat quickly.  The haunt did deliver a number of solid startles mainly through enthusiastic, bordering on vigorous actors and often clever acting.  The acting though was hit or miss, but the actors that hit – hit hard with deranged comments, blood curdling screams and out of nowhere startles with good timing. Although our visit was two weeks into their season and the talent will likely continue to improve, too many of the actors hadn’t yet found their character or had perfected their timing for the acting alone to carry the experience.

This haunt scored low on set design, props, and FX in my opinion which, to many haunt guests is as important as the startles. Although there were a few interesting things to look at, the overall set design and production value seemed lacking and sparse.

I understand that a good haunted house can be built without buying the newest, goriest, beautiful haunt props, FX and decor on the market, but lacking details doesn’t support the efforts of the performers or the back story unless both are outstanding and air tight.  Some haunts can overcome a lack of density through cleverly controlling a guests’ focus through well designed and painstakingly executed lighting with attention to sight lines and masking, which this haunt did not.  Some sets seemed unfinished, an interesting sketch of an idea that needed either more time or money to finish in order to be suiting to my taste in a good haunt.

I saw a few well made up actors throughout the haunt and if they can increase the number of performers made up to this detail that would help their production value.  There were some clever ideas in this haunt, but not much I haven’t seen done before. I did really enjoy being briefly but completely disoriented during one standout section of the walk through.

There were a couple points during the walk through where I encountered a sizeable trip hazard or hanging metal chains in the guest walkway that could cause problems.  A haunt that leaves some obvious details unattended that create a credible safety concern scares me in a bad way.  And thinking that I discovered these with the lights off makes me even more concerned about what else might have been overlooked.

While this haunt did offer several good startles and enough memorable acting for me to enjoy it, I wouldn’t recommend it to experienced haunt goers looking for a thrill.  For a younger audience and a fun family experience, near Greeley, and you don’t want to drive far to a harder hitting  haunt this could be just what you need to satisfy your need to be scared.

2050 Greeley Mall
Greeley, CO. 80631
  • $18.00
  • $15.00 Military
  • $13.00 Students
Thursday – Saturday

September 13th – October 31st.

7:00pm – 11:30pm every night

Morbid Nights Mute Manor

  • Drea

    so first haunted house ever and i yelled like a little girl. crazy actors and actresses, really enjoyed it 🙂 now i want to go again. i dont mind the bruises and the heart attacks as long i can get the scare 🙂 Morbid Nights Haunted House is pretty flipping amazing 😀

  • Brittany Brienna Belle

    the ratz kept it real in the Mute Manor at the Greeley Mall. it was so scary our britches fell right off. (sorry bout it) definitely come check it out.

    luv da ratz