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Arts and Entertainment

Descend Into A Dark Dimension In This Fashion District Haunted House

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If you're looking for more Halloween thrills, head down to the Fashion District late at night, where you will be transported to a strange realm through which you must follow a rope to a series of characters, each one revealing a different piece of a dark fairytale.

Screenshot Productions' latest immersive performance, The Rope, is currently happening at Think Tank Gallery. Think Tank is also hosting Trap House, a grotesque art show and escape room, through Halloween, but The Rope feels like it takes place somewhere else entirely.

You begin your journey by wandering down a dark alleyway. You and a group of six travelers will each be led, one at a time, to sit around a fire. There, a storyteller will inform you of a world known as Conscentia. He tells you that you will be admitted to this world, but it's not exactly a vacation. It's a gloomy underworld, and you've got a quest to complete. In Conscentia, there are fortune tellers. They will guide your path through the realm if you bring them tokens or treasures, which you will acquire throughout your journey by talking to various people you meet along the way. Once you enter the realm, you will be handed a rope. Following the rope will take you to different parts of the realm, each inhabited by a different character.

When it comes to immersive haunts this season, The Rope is not as polished or sexy as Creep LA or as extensive as Tension Experience. However, it does boast a covetable vibe that other haunts this year do not. It doesn't feel like a piece of theater that you are simply gliding through, and it doesn't feel like you're trapped in your own horror movie. Instead, it feels like you are inside of a game. To be specific, it feels like you are an antihero in a dark point-and-click adventure game. Before entering the realm, the storyteller provides each traveler with a small satchel, where you will place the artifacts you collect. That's sort of like your inventory.

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Each character you encounter will be one that you will, at some point, have to speak to, just like you have to choose the text your hero speaks in such games. Some of them will ask you to make decisions, and your choice will determine what you receive to put in your satchel. For instance, in one area, I met a creature who let me choose between two crystals: one was following the rules of the land, the other would provide value to me once I returned to my own dimension. While the items you have will ultimately all lead you to the same, beautiful ending scene, they do signify different things and trigger different monologues. But not all artifacts are for the fortune tellers. Some are keys that unlock chests, which will help travelers find out more about the history of the realm. This is another common mechanic in video games.

If I could compare The Rope to a single game, it'd likely be Tormentum, though creators cite Dark Souls as an inspiration.

It can be confusing to find the right characters in the dark, with only a rope as your guide. But if you get lost, robed figures that wander the realm like wraiths will do their best to send you on your way. To solve bottlenecking issues that may occur when travelers are all waiting to speak to the same character, Screenshot has added more intense interactions with the wraiths, including small mini-games or short scenes. The whole experience should take about 45 minutes to an hour.

Screenshot is the kind of small performance company that I'd like to see get a lot of money from some benevolent benefactor that loves immersive theater so that they could better build their worlds. (Kind of like how Haunted Hayride got all that Shark Tank cash, or how actor Neil Patrick Harris decide to infuse Delusion with funding.) Right now, they're building a lot out of a little, but they still maintain consistent vibe through all of their performances: the tone they use when writing their emails, the erudite prose their actors deliver, the dreamy, surreal original music that scores their experiences. Unlike other productions that evolved out of the 'haunted house' genre, Screenshot rarely relies on physical aggression, and no one ever pours a bucket of fake blood over your head. Everything is cerebral and lovely, even when at its darkest, making Screenshot a unique company to watch year-round.

By the way, The Rope is not the only haunt going down in the Fashion District this year. In addition to its roommate, the aforementioned Trap House, Gorlesque is going on over on 11th Street. Gorlesque is a walk-through maze that takes guests through the world of a stereotypical mad scientist—he's even German—who labored away at creating the most perfect woman in the world, to disastrous results. Gorlesque is lewd, loud and definitely not for your pearl-clutching aunt.

The Rope takes place on select nights through October and November at Think Tank Gallery, located at 939 Maple St. in downtown L.A. Tickets are $65. Note: there is some crawling, you will be temporarily blindfolded, and one scene contains some mild physical aggression.

Related: Over 30 Creepy Mazes, Haunts, Tours, Escape Rooms And More For Halloween