EERIEBYSS, Erie Pennsylvania's Flagship Haunt
Found at the bottom of a hill in an old factory district in Erie Pennsylvania sits a community gem of a haunt called Eeriebyss. The parking lot is marked with a sufficiently sized banner but, the lot is small as if to anticipate lower demand. The haunt isn't exactly Hollywood, it's a show of amateur care and a labor of love.
Lobby - 7
The Lobby is very bespoke with a minimal color scheme of white and gray and ample queue line for 150 people to wait in. One competitive advantage is the hand painted murals of cemeteries and horror scenes exclusively for this room. One of the paintings is easily cursed. You'll know it when you see it. There is also a giant spider hiding around the corner from the main hallway.
Acting - 8
These actors must have a sense of ownership on some level because there are a number of them who pull out the stops. One notable actor in a particularly strange hallway violently carries on about fearing the curse. There were unfortunately a couple actors who made me uncomfortable on a personal level but, that won't go against the whole team. A lot of actors dealt with horror movie characters. However, in the spirit of this haunt, it doesn't detract from the overall quality. A negatively affecting instance I will mention is the guy who broke character to yell, “You guys suck!”. This is balanced out by the tremendous teamwork of the clowns in Clowntown. They are able to improvise and bounce off each other like nobody's business and coordinate attacks over walls and from in front and behind.
Eye Candy/Visuals - 7
Eeriebyss is a minimalist, low budget haunt which has broad strokes kind of aesthetic rather than fine lines. A good example of this is the first few rooms with the cultist symbols spread all over the black walls and floor without much detail. They have an altar and table covered in bones but, no other detail. Without details, though, this show doesn't falter. It's perfectly fine in its own voice with a spirit that rivals big Hollywood-style shows like Frightworld. Clowntown is the most remarkable part of the whole haunt because it has so much to look at. The fluorescent paint on the walls actually disorients and there are mirrors to make you the star of the scene.
Walkthrough Experience - 8
From the walk through the parking lot to the tiny ticket window and the comparatively nondescript queue line up the first set of stairs alone is a spookier experience than at least one other haunt from this season. Eeriebyss is a permanent structure so, the buildout can be more extreme than other, temporary haunts. The truth is, it doesn't seem like they use the permanence to their fullest potential. What they do well is maximize the total space used by way of many staircases up and down in different parts of the building. The walkthrough is about 23 minutes long by these means and with dozens of scenes, there's just too much to remember, a lot to feel and even more to be happy with. A brilliant use of floor space is evident in the final room where you are ushered through four peripheral loop hallways that are each representative of a horror movie. They have SAW, Friday the 13th, Trick 'r Treat and Halloween in these confines and the simple design of blind turns leads to more scares than in any other part of the haunt.
Originality/Creativity - 6
While the entire haunt is made in house with seemingly no work from outside vendor artists, the majority of their scenes are homages to famous horror movies which badly hinders an originality score. It could be said that their painting is highly unique and the props can only be seen in this one haunt. The biggest fact is while they may be creative with materials, they play the pop culture game more than striking out on their own.
This really isn't a bad haunt. It's one I intend on returning to because it's a really good value for $20 and only an hour and a half away from my house. I totally recommend this show to anyone within an hour and a half drive. It's well-intentioned and makes the most of a tight situation with maximization of space, time and actors.