Review: The Most Beautifully Constructed Haunted House In Los Angeles
By Abel Horwitz
ALONE [An Existential Haunting]’s sophomore year brings its audience to the Flower District after hours when all the shops are closed. Walking down the streets in an area of downtown that is bustling during the day but jarringly quiet at night is unnerving and unsettling. You find yourself in a dark, dirty alleyway, the kind of place you know you shouldn’t be.
Under the bright white neon triangle that ALONE uses as their symbol, you are greeted by two hosts wearing impeccably clean white suits. "ALONE LOVES YOU" a small sign proclaims. You wait your turn, sitting nervously with the others who have signed up for the unknown. When it’s time, they call you up and bring you inside.
If it was not October, and if ALONE wasn't called a "haunting," I would view the experience as an art project. Yes, there are moments to startle, and yes, you go through it alone with a safe word and with a signed contract giving the performers permission to touch you. However, once inside, the experience unfolds with a grace and a beauty that stands out within the haunted house community.
ALONE is a well-designed theatrical piece, and I came away from it much more in awe of the theatrics than the horror.
To spell out what happens inside would spoil the fun, but be advised that you are expected to crawl through tight spaces, climb up and down stairs, and you will be grabbed, pushed and touched by the actors inside. I would like to go back a second time specifically to get a better glimpse of the space ALONE has utilized, and not be so concerned about where the next scare was coming from. Most of your time is spent in very beautiful spaces.
Another thing I must praise ALONE on is their optional puzzle game. Now, not everyone who goes through ALONE will play the game, but an e-mail was sent to me a week before I was to attend, advising me to find a shop in Los Feliz and to inquire about the ENOLA foundation, the mysterious organization that seems to have taken over ALONE’s Twitter page. At the store I was given a phone number to call, which lead me on a treasure hunt through downtown Los Angeles. The puzzle was a thrill to unravel, and I admire ALONE for adding this little bonus to their haunt.
What it changed of my experience, I am not sure.
What I do know is that immediately after I handed over my prize I was taken into a small room. There, inside with me, was a dancing unicorn. Yes, a dancing unicorn.
And we danced. Oh how we danced.
And when the dance was over I was grabbed and pulled through more of the haunt. And when I thought the haunt was over I was pleased to find there was a second part to the whole thing.
The funny thing is when it did end, I couldn't tell. My criticism of the experience is that it ends so abruptly that I had to go back to the front entrance and ask, “Was that it?” There was no climax, there was no real indication that it was over. You are merely lead outside and into the night.
As I was part of their preview night, I hope that they will improve upon this when the haunt opens tonight. Co-creators Lawrence Lewis and Devon Paulson have an eye for this sort of thing, and it would be worth it for them to figure out a way to let the audience know it’s over without making us have to ask.
Because, as I walked back to the beginning, I was desperately hoping I wasn't finished. That I could dance in the magic just a little bit longer.
ALONE [an existential haunting] is a wonderful experience. Ultimately, there wasn’t much inside that was truly terrifying, but for those that are willing to walk down the dark alley at night, what they will find when they arrive is beautiful. And that’s worth the price of admission.
ALONE (An Existential Haunting) location revealed upon ticket purchase. It runs select nights through November 1. Tickets are $45 - $60.