Haunt Report ’08: The Quarantine Maze

ON

Now at Knott’s Scary Farm

The showmen (and women) lurking behind the screams and pulling the strings in the haunted attraction biz strive to, essentially, draw visitors into a maze that feels like a living, breathing horror movie. Save for the killin’ and real bloodshed, they rely on atmosphere, ghastly performers, sights and sounds to break you. To have you sweeping up what shredded nerves you have left and fleeing for the exit.

As a connoisseur of this macabre craft, when it comes to mazes based on film properties, I very rarely find attractions that surpass their celluloid counterparts. They might be equally as fun (see: Halloween Horror Nights). But bringing new ideas to the attraction that are actually better than the film itself? Move along, kid, nothin’ to see here. At least, that’s what I thought until I wandered through Sony and Knott’s Scary Farm’s maze for The Grudge 2. Baby, that’s where it was at. Where Takashi Shimizu’s American sequel was a bore, the Knott’s attraction quickened your pulse and offered some disturbing visuals.

This year, Sony continues its relationship with Knott’s with Quarantine, a walk-through experience based on the upcoming Screen Gems film – itself an American redo of the terrifying Spanish flick Rec. The material – an apartment complex brimming with tenants suffering from a radical and vicious form of rabies – ideally lends itself to the needed thrills of a maze. The possibilities for choice scare gags are endless but none are successfully mined beyond the concept of dropping you in a house of crazies.

Having been to the set, I have to give kudos to the production team for visually matching Quarantine‘s building. The details are accurate and the layout of the lobby is dead-on. When you enter, your journey starts on the ground floor and takes you through hallways and apartments until you reach some of the higher, dilapidated regions of the complex. It’s a smooth, natural narrative progression. Getting through it, however, is not as inspired as the films the maze is based on. It doesn’t distinguish itself from the rest of the attractions in the park

Things kick off on the right foot with the recreation of, what I think, is one of the best jump scares the horror genre has seen in quite some time (if you’ve seen Rec, you’ll know what I mean). An actress playing Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter in the American film) is perched at the base of the stairwell looking upset. She greets you and sets up the danger, and then it’s off to the races as you plow through the maze dodging blood-starved lunatics infected by rabies.

Every so often you slow down to spy an elaborate FX piece – such as a dog mowing down on some dude in the elevator – but for the most part, the experience is very actor-driven. Depending on the performer’s energy, the effect of walking through this haven of horrors can be quite good. An infected girl chained to a banister will have you clinging to the walls to avoid her. Still, this leaves you wanting more. Without giving much away, I’ll say the maze feels a tad over-lit, there are not nearly enough “boo!” scares as you would like and the finale features a tacky animatronic creation positioned, I kid you not, directly in the light to reveal all of its flaws. Then, you’re set free questioning, “That’s it?”

Rec, which started it all, was a rattling movie experience. The Knott’s maze is, sadly, a tepid affair. Originating in strong ideas but weak in its execution. I’m hoping I won’t be saying the same for Quarantine when it hits theaters on October 10th.

Source: Ryan Rotten