Haunt Report: Saw The Haunted Attraction

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Live through the Jigsaw experience

Timing is everything. John Kramer (aka Jigsaw) of the Saw franchise knows that well, whether he’s executing a trap or letting the audience in on a big revelation. And timing is just one of the pros the Saw haunted attraction in Brea, California has over many of the movie-themed Halloween mazes I’ve been to this year. Jeff Schiefelbein and his crew at the Southern California-based Darkside Studios have crafted an aggressive, authentic and downright wild trip through the Saw franchise that’s an absolute must-visit for any hardcore Jigsaw fan worth his, or her, salt.

With the blessing of Lionsgate, Darkside’s attraction lets you roam through many key scenes from the first four films. The maze is set inside a gutted movie theater (apropos) and winds through 10,000 square feet of space. More than sufficient room for visitors to have their senses assaulted with sound effects, air guns and performers wearing Jigsaw’s iconic black and red robe and pig mask.

Outside, the attraction is rather unassuming – save for the incessant strobe light – inside, however, you’re herded into a waiting area where you get a glimpse of Jigsaw’s workshop in two display areas. These spots are littered with tools, scrap pieces, televisions and other accoutrements reflecting a man with the know-how to make life-threatening devices. The waiting is a bit long, but worth it. If you attend with a large entourage, a hostess will break you into groups of four then send you into the maze. Thankfully, the organizers of the maze space out the groups so you’re given the illusion that you’re the only ones wandering through the attraction. Also, you’re guaranteed that every jump scare is catered to you unlike other mazes where there’s a constant flow of foot traffic and a possibility you might miss a “boo!” gag.

The maze begins with, what I think, is the best part of the attraction: You’re asked to participate in an actual Jigsaw trap. When you walk through the entrance, Jigsaw’s recognizable voice comes through the speakers instructing you on what to do before you can proceed any further. The weak of heart in your group will shy away (I’m lookin’ at you, Tammy!), but if you’ve got an extra hand you’ll get through the trap with ease. Then it’s on to the maze itself, a twisty-turny affair with multiple rooms which play like “Jigsaw’s Greatest Hits.”

Darkside Studios recreates the best traps beginning with a “hair-raising” contraption from Saw IV which utilizes a live performer to hammer home its faithfulness. Unfortunately, one room – a rig inspired by Saw II‘s needle pit sequence – was not working the night I attended; that did little to deter my experience which, admittedly, elicited quite a few jumps from me and tested my claustrophobia in the greatest way possible (I’ll refrain from ruining the surprise). The maze works backwards, so you haul ass through the franchise from part four to one, concluding in the soiled bathroom where it all began. So you might say that, just like the films, even the maze toys with the narrative.

Saw: The Haunted Attraction surpassed my expectations. Schiefelbein and company went to great lengths to capture the R-rated essence of the franchise and they succeeded. The sets are top-notch and meticulously detailed, the traps are accurate and the performers keep you on your toes – even if they, and the metallic objects they clatter, are a bit overused (why was there a guy banging a trash can in the corner?).

For those who live in the Los Angeles area, the maze is a rewarding 40-minute drive; it will definitely give you a good rattle. This is one lesson from Jigsaw you don’t want to skip out on.

On my way out of the attraction, Schiefelbein relayed to me that an addition to the attraction will be revealed once Saw V opens on October 24th. So, if you’ve already paid this event a visit, it might be worthwhile to check it out again. For details, ticket info and dates visit LiveSaw.com.

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor