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Creep L.A. Is A Sexy, Weird Haunted House About Entering 'The Darkness'
Creep LA may be one of the most underrated haunts of the season, lost in the shuffle of amusement park haunts like Knott’s and Universal and the buzz surrounding the two and a half hours of weirdness that is The Tension Experience. Yet Creep, which debuted last Halloween, has become a much more immersive, streamlined and stylish haunt in the year it's had to prepare for its sophomore run. This year's story, "Entry," follows a cult that is obsessed with artist Erybus Burwick. Burwick disappeared in the 1970s after attempting to breach something called "the darkness," but it is rumored that listening to a recording the artist created for his final work will allow you to enter that realm, too.
Creep creator Justin Fix said he and his team—J.T. Swierczek, Fiona Rene, Daniel Montgomery, David Anderson, Stephanie Turek, Lacy Forrest—were inspired by the works of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch. This is apparent upon entering. Don't expect a slasher vibe with jump scares and bloody body parts; rather, Creep is a foreboding, surreal nightmare that takes its time with each guest.
Guests will first stand outside a large warehouse located in Glassell Park. Each person must line up on a white "X" outside while figures in featureless masks roam the parking lot listlessly and a children's choir version of Radiohead's "Creep" plays on an endless loop. When it's your turn to enter, you'll first be led into a hallway where a group of women who hover somewhere between Mean Girls and The Craft will allow you your final restroom break and demand you sign a waiver. Then, you'll be admitted to the bar. The bar is like a sexy vampire bar from the early 90s, but too minimalistic to be campy. It is lit only in scarlet hues and moody, ambient music plays. They bar is inhabited by devotees of Burwick, and they're all very excited about this darkness business. They're so eager for you to experience it for yourself. One of them occasionally becomes consumed by fits, while another bitterly hisses about his mother to no one in particular.
At the bar, laconic bartenders will pour Tito's cocktails and Peroni, the proceeds of which will benefit nonprofit Art of Elysium. (Note: alcohol is not served on Wednesday or Sunday night performances.) But sit down at one of the black-clothed tables or upon a chaise lounge and patrons are sure to mingle with you. Two young, beautiful women in black stockings and garters move deliberately like they're wading through treacle as they search for their mark. They're not shy, draping their limbs over random audience members, and sobbing about the interminable wait for it to be "their turn." A man who half-hid his face behind a fan wanted to know how long I could hold my breath, if I had to, before a woman in long black dress swept me into a ballroom dance and asked me to make a wish. Each interaction has the intimacy of a hallucinogenic-induced Tinder date that is too exciting to leave, but foreboding enough that you might excuse yourself to the bathroom so that you can text your friend you last known whereabouts, just in case.
After about 20 to 30 minutes, guests will be allowed to enter into Burwick's world. On the night we crossed that threshold, a bespectacled man informed us that the conditions were right: the moon was in the same phase as it was the night of what would be Burwick's bizarre swan song. We were told not to touch the creeps, though they might touch us.
The haunt itself is about 45 minutes, but it's hard to keep track of how much time has passed. While some haunted houses push you through, Creep lingers. Each room unfolds in an eerie vignette. Some are more like abstract dances that occur around you, while other scenes are more interactive. You may find yourself helping a frantic character search for something, or perhaps you'll be be separated from your group for a private interrogation. Nothing is particularly violent or unpleasant. It lacks the physical abrasiveness of extreme haunts like Blackout and Heretic House, and you won't be forced to eat or smell anything unappealing like Tension Experience. But you may have characters smear a sooty substance on your face, gently caress your arm from a hidden hole in the wall, tuck you into a narrow bed, or softly press you into a padded wall. The actors lack the over-the-top cheesiness of more stereotypical horror shows. They're intense, but do well in the intimate spaces.
"We think of ourselves as a hybrid of stage-meets-film and gaming-meets-haunts, like choose-your-own-adventure for adults," Fix said. "We want our guests to explore and discover things both as a group and individually. Instead of jump scares over and over, we like to focus on internal darkness and what scares people from within."
At $50, Creep is cheaper than many of the other haunts this season, and if you're interested in something more intense than a walk-through maze, Creep is the best proverbial bang for your buck. You are advised to show up 15 minutes prior to your reservation time and would do best to wear comfortable, closed-toed shoes and clothes that won't inhibit movements like climbing through windows.
Creep LA is located at 2316 N San Fernando Rd. in Glassell Park. It runs through October 31. Tickets are $50.