AUGMENTED REALITY – Bl4ckm4ss Review – CA

AUGMENTED REALITY – Bl4ckm4ss Review – CA

BL4CKM4SS 

On January 1st I was busy eating healthy food and celebrating #NewYearNewMe when I received an odd message from someone called Bl4ckM4ss. I had been specifically selected to experience a new reality? Respond with my interest? What does that mean?!?!? Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 5.17.57 PM.png

So I responded.
I received a date, time and secret location with instructions to arrive alone wearing clothes I didn’t care about. Honestly I was a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing. Was this another immersive/ARG/extreme haunt…or was it some actual crazy cult group or psycho killer’s elaborate plan to torture and kill me? No-one seemed to have heard anything about this Bl4ckm4ss aside from their social media presence. So I did what any sane person would do and showed up alone.
I still don’t know who’s behind Bl4ckm4ss, but I survived to tell you about it. However, they specifically asked that I not give away too many details since it is an ongoing experience.
Bl4ckm4ss is a “new augmented reality” but the waiver and initial email reminded me of an extreme haunt. It is not as physical as an extreme haunt, which is good because I don’t really enjoy extreme haunts. I have a few lingering injuries that prevent me from attending anything too physical. I was easily able to do this event without injuring myself further. However it is quite intense at times.
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Fear is such a personal experience. Everyone’s past is different and that shapes their fears. I personally found one section of Bl4ckm4ss especially terrifying because it triggered flashbacks to a traumatic experience I had a decade ago. I was actually quite impressed with myself for not calling out the safe word. I was also pleased with the choices I made. I left the event feeling overwhelmed with emotion. I was also a bit chilly. (I recommend dressing in layers if you get cold easily.)
I appreciate the invitation to step out of my comfort zone. It was a great way to begin the new year, a short journey in self discovery. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next.
If you would like to experience Bl4ckm4ss for yourself read the information below:
Who is BL4KM4SS? We are augmented reality. We give guests a theatrical immersive experience.
Creators- We are BL4KM4SS. You ask, we provide.
Current Show- “a Prelude”- accepting applications for interested parties.
DATES: February/March – By invitation only.
March 15-17, 29-31, April 1-5 and April 5-7- By application only
Future dates: TBA
Contact Info- bl4km4ss@gmail.com for an application to be considered for future shows.
Cost?- “a Prelude” will be $50 per person, Approx 1 hour solo show.
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ESCAPE ROOMS- Nautilus Escape Room at 60 Out – CA

60 OUT ESCAPE ROOMS

60 Out is an amazing company with many incredible rooms. This is one of the most immersive escape room companies in Los Angeles. Their games are great for both new & experienced players.

HAUNTS – Los Angeles Haunted Hayride – California

LOS ANGELES HAUNTED HAYRIDE


Growing up in the midwest hayrides and tractors were a bit more commonplace, but the idea of a haunted hayride in the middle of Los Angeles is unique. The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride is located in Griffith Park near the old zoo area. The hayride, dark maze and trick or treat area are the three main haunted attractions at the event. There are also food vendors, psychics, entertainment and a creepy carousel.


LA Haunted Hayride is a fun event, however 2017 was not their strongest year. The clown theme was interesting enough, but not very original. I liked their use of the old zoo area and incorporating the animals. The oversized marionettes were fun. The guy on the motorcycle looked cool. Overall the hayride didn’t deliver those stunning staged scenes I have come to expect from this event. This year it seemed a bit lighter on actors and the scares seemed to be focussed primarily on jumping on the wagon or stalking guests a little too long along a sparsely decorated path.


The House of Shadows maze is a dark maze with a handful of actors that work very hard at jump scares. It’s a fun place to get lost with your friends. There are a few dimly lit scenes within and some writing on the walls to “help” you to the correct path. There was a half deflated airbag effect that was less than effective. It isn’t the scariest or prettiest maze I’ve seen, but the idea of getting lost in an actual maze is quite fun.


Trick or Treat was the only attraction that made me put away my camera specifically saying “no lights, photos, videos, snapchat, instagram, etc while inside”. I wondered if that was so the poor quality of the attraction wouldn’t get plastered all over social media. It was a lot of fun the last time I did it…actually one of my favorite things in Los Angeles because of the creativity of trick or treating at the homes of different creatures. This year the set looked like it needed some touchups, the actors weren’t behind their doors to answer the knocking and there was no candy for the trick or treaters. It was a series of awkward moments where we would knock on a door and wait, then an actor may or may not appear to try and do some sort of jump scare that we were literally standing around waiting for. It seems to have lost motivation for Trick or Treat when they removed the Trick or Treating element from the attraction.

​Overall this year was disappointing, but I still look forward to seeing what they do next year. I hope it is a fun theme and they reignite that spark of creativity that I have enjoyed so much from them in the past years.

House of Shadows Maze

HAUNTS – Into the Black 2017 – California

 

INTO THE BLACK


https://youtu.be/tOUlyPR6Wwk

Have you ever wondered how you would react if you were the character walking through the spooky house alone in a horror flick? Now you have the chance feel what that is like. Into the Black at the Los Angeles Fairgrounds in Pomona California is a new Halloween event for 2017. It is a three part adventure in that there is a short movie, VR experience and walk through haunted house that all work together to tell the story. You can watch the movie on YouTube before attending the event. The VR experience is a fun short adventure into the past to meet the characters of the home and find out a little more of the history of the house and it’s former residents. The haunted house is an individual experience inside the house which we have now gotten quite familiar with. Overall, it’s a creative, fun and unique event.


The haunted house is beautifully designed and truly feels like it’s own character. One of my favorite things about the design is the use of space. I enjoyed the large room scenes in combination with the claustrophobic hallways. I also love that there are choices to make within the path. The make-up is amazing, of course. Afterall, Larry Bones (Boneyard Effects) is an incredible make-up creator. The hardworking actors are perfectly placed to build tension and then pounce. The sound design is also wonderfully done. I loved the moment when I was following the sound, but could barely see anything. Everything works together so well to create a fresh style of psychologically thrilling experience.


You can more of my thoughts in the YouTube video below along with my husband and short interview with Larry Bones.

 

 

ESCAPE ROOMS – The Elevator Shaft at The Basement – California

THE ELEVATOR SHAFT 


The Basement has always been ahead of the competition when it comes to immersion and storytelling in their incredibly fun horror escape games, but they’ve really outdone themselves with their latest game: The Elevator Shaft.


The Elevator Shaft is the new Chapter 2 in the 3 part story of The Basement escape games. It is in the space that the Boiler Room once occupied, but don’t be fooled by that because even though it replaced Boiler Room it is a completely different game. The technology is new and advanced compared to anything I have yet to see in an escape room. It features a hydraulic descending elevator hanging overhead, exciting audio effects, fog, water, and lighting effects. The set design is gorgeous, like something out of a movie. The tension that is created in the room is incredible. I’m fascinated by how the room breathes life into the story without using live actors inside the room.

Up to 6 guests are trapped inside this elevator shaft with only 45 minutes to escape. I personally think 3 players is the perfect number for this game, but everyone knows I always prefer to play alone or with only my hubby since we don’t have an established team with which we regularly play. However, I believe you need at least two people to complete the game due to certain puzzles. In my opinion, communication is much more essential in this particular game than the typical escape room. This is the perfect game for a group of friends, especially if they love the horror genre. I imagine it could be a nightmare for someone that is claustrophobic, though. Afterall it’s a fairly small space since it is the size of an elevator shaft with an elevator falling on you.


Here is the story of The Elevator Shaft taken directly from the press release:

About 3 months ago, cannibalistic serial killer, Edward Tandy hired an engineer named John to help him make some “engineering” changes to an antique service elevator on his property. After working on the elevator shaft for a day or two, it became clear to John that Edward’s use for this machine seemed sinister in nature. He confronted Edward and refused to help any longer. Edward told him that not only would he continue to work on the project, but that he would not be allowed to leave the compound until the project was complete, and if he did so, John’s wife and daughter would be killed. Now the project is done and John is long dead, his life taken inside the death trap he helped to build. You wake up and find yourself in the bottom of the shaft, with a video recorded by John himself. Unbeknownst to Edward, the engineer has hidden a series of steps within the inner workings of the elevator, that if you’re able to figure out, you can blow open the emergency access to the shaft and make a run for it. Can you decipher John’s notes, and find the secret sequence of steps in order to escape? Or will you be crushed by the 10-ton antique steel monster that hangs above?


The Elevator Shaft is one of the most immersive and unique escape rooms I’ve played and I highly recommend it.


 

ODDITIES – Jurassic Planet at the LA County Fair – CA


I’ve never been particularly interested in dinosaurs, but I heard about Jurassic Planet and my curiosity got the best of me. I’m glad it did. 

For only a small $5 up charge to your fair admisssion you can walk among 40 life sized realistic animatronic dinosaurs. It pretty darn cool! I know they aren’t actually real dinosaurs (except for a few live creatures on display such as an emu, alligator and tortoise), but they seem pretty real if you let your imagination run wild. I found myself wanting to pet them and at one point talking in “baby talk” to a few adorable animatronic baby dinos. 

I really enjoyed Jurrasic Planet and wanted to share it here. I also recorded a bit of my experience which you can watch from YouTube below. 

ODDITIES – The Speakeasy Society: The Door – California

SPEAKEASY SOCIETY

CHAPTER 3 – THE DOOR 

You know a show is gonna be great when it sells out in 3 hours and it was amazing. Please note that this review contains spoilers. Expect all three chapters to go into production again this year, so if you’d like to experience the show without any prior knowledge then I recommend you do not continue reading.

KansasCollection_CH3_1.JPG

Full Cast (left to right) Matthew Bamberg- Johnson as Phil Daring, Nora King as Dorothy Gale, John Henningsen as Lyman, John McCormick as Oscar Diggs (The Wizzard), Genevieve Gearhart as Phoebe Daring

My husband and I arrived and were escorted to a porch-like area to meet with Lyman along with another couple. We spoke with him about the themes of each chapter so far. Chapter 1 was about hope, Chapter 2 opportunity and Chapter 3 the future. The five of us discussed the difference between destiny and inevitable consequence. Within a few minutes the wizard entered to escort us into the house.  He inquired as to whether we had brought our keys, as they were very important to what was to come.

Upon entering the house I couldn’t help but feel curious about those who resided there. It was so lived in, unlike what I have come to expect from a theatrical set. As we entered the living room we were introduced to Dorothy. We had our first decision to make. As a group we decided who she was. Then the wizard did a card reading where we each got involved. In an unexpected turn of events Phil and Phoebe/Ozma entered the room through a magical door. They took Dorothy back with them and we were sent on our way.

Overall the show was interesting and unique. The actors were absolutely amazing. It is a wonderfully fun way to be immersed in the retelling of these classic stories. I felt that even though Chapter 3 was the smallest audience per show, somehow it felt the least intimate. I really love what they are doing with The Kansas Collection though.  I can’t wait for Chapter 4.