FEARSCAPES, Ellwood City PA
In the far back corner of what must be an industrial property on a busy thoroughfare in Ellwood City PA lies an interactive motherlode of a haunted attraction. Access to the building is as different as the presentation itself. You must step down into a back lot surrounded by forest and wait in an outdoor queue line.
Lobby - 7
This one is a little difficult to determine because it's questionable where the Lobby begins and where it ends. If you're talking about the queue line, there's nothing spooky about it except the pig demon who pesters guests about their eating habits and seizes Cowboy hats. He was a good character on that night and deserves a seat at the table with Beelzebub. If you're talking about the entryway with the giant monster and preshow, it's pretty well done. If you're talking about everything from the ticket booth to the preshow(which this score is based upon), you have a well-themed entryway with roaming actors and cool lighting effects
Actors – 10
The actors at Fearscapes are very pliable and improvisational. Very skilled. They don't run when they fall short and come back with tact. From the chemical worker who lets you in to the Stolen Stitches Sideshow at the very end, you get great moments of interactivity and some of comedy. After watching another reviewers' video, it came clear to me that the big, burly male clown almost at the end may well be able to work his magic as an improv comedian. If Krampus were an actor in his scene rather than just a prop, that would have been even better. But there is the bunny that follows you into the Christmas area. The Tarot Card reader is only the actor who plays mostly to her own internal script rather than improvise.
Eye Candy/Visuals – 8
There's a lot of random eye candy in just about every hallway considering the story of the haunt revolves around a portal to a monster containing realm called The Void. It's almost like a monster prop museum including some great pieces from Unit 70. They have plenty of mini spotlights all around to give eerie illumination to the whole show. The Laser Swamp is the only half-assed part because it doesn't go wall-to-wall across the whole room. Keeping to themes like a jungle in the hallways and applying monsters to those themes would be more immersive. Even some of the actors' makeup are impressive visuals
Walkthrough Experience – 9
The difference between Fearscapes and most other attractions is its prioritization of mini stages for actors to perform on. The rooms are like a walkthrough stage as you would encounter at a drama, comedy or musical. It was nice to finally have an actor in the queue line who could hold up and stay in character for the first time of this year's tour. The preshow is a little lacking in motion and activity but, the fact that this maintainer of the facility hard wired his heart into the power supply lends to the really interesting ability to communicate through a speaker as he tells the story of research into The Void and when everything went awry. The next room is probably one of the simplest, most janky and longest operating Hellevators in existence. It basically just rocks back and forth between two corners for a minute and a half. As you make your way around the house, you see an amalgam of different themes that are justified by The Void and most are done very well. Each character you see happens to be someone who came out of The Void.
Originality/Creativity - 9
When it comes to originality, the pinacle of this haunt is the actual sideshow at the very end. Stolen Stitches Sideshow is set up in a very small room with a man and a woman each with their own crazy skills. The man is a “Human Blockhead”, hammering a nail into his nose. The woman is a “Firebreather” and “Sword Swallower”. We had a genuinely good time just watching them, let alone the rest of the house. The Void allows for a wide variety of themes. They need to play more with wildernesses, though. The lack of “bringing the outdoors in” as of yet is the only downside in creativity so far.
This haunt isn't exactly a must see but, it is something I would recommend pairing with Eerie Acres Farm when driving from as far away as four hours. Admission is $15 with only a GA option and the haunt is worth at least $20. It's a real bargain for as good of acting as you'll get. Just a few more theming changes in the hallways will absolutely make this a must see show.