13th Gate Asylum: Unforeseen (review)

For years, the 13th Gate Asylum seemed a bit like El Dorado - a distant, mythical land, rumored to exist, but your chances of actually finding the place were slim. Fortunately, after several years on hiatus, the haunted attraction has been back in action since 2018, offering dedicated haunt-seekers an opportunity to finally explore its mysteries.

Oh, foolish mortals - be wary what you wish for! This is no city of gold, no garden of delights. The very name "asylum" is nothing but a cruel lie - there is no shelter to be found here, no protection from the cruelties of the outside world. Least of all is this a safe harbor for those troubled in mind and spirit. It is, rather a hellish descent into unforeseen depths of madness, from which few if any can hope to escape.

The 13th Gate Asylum Unforeseen Review: Darkness
13th Gate Asylum 2019
The facade of 13th Gate Asylum's Unforeseen maze.

Hyperbole aside, the 13th Gate is monstrously effective at what it does. This Halloween's presentation, Unforeseen, is less a specific theme than an overall approach that acts as a broad funeral shroud, enveloping a variety of ideas within its darkness. And darkness is the connecting tissue here. Though not quite a total blackout maze, Unforeseen is so dimly lit as to be virtually blinding. It allows the creatures to creep up on you (literally "unforeseen"), appearing suddenly in front, sneaking up from behind, and  delivering so many unexpected scares from shadows that you you begin to scare yourself, wondering what else may be lurking invisibly around you.

It sounds simple, but we have visited many dark mazes that were much less effective. 13th Gate pulls it off because the performers know how to use the darkness to terrify you more than you could possibly imagine. They have no respect for personal boundaries, surrounding you, invading your personal space, blocking your progress, and generally inducing pulse-pounding hypertension from beginning to end.

13th Gate Asylum Unforeseen Review: Conclusion

The only thing 13th Gate Asylum lacks is great sets. Set up inside an empty warehouse in Oxnard, the maze consists mostly of simply black corridors, with a great facade at the entrance and a few interesting settings inside. But it doesn't really matter, because Unforeseen is a textbook example of using basic resources to brilliant effect. Atmospheric surroundings can add immeasurably to a haunted house attraction, but what really counts is the number of screams. In this regard, the 13th Gate Asylum: Unforeseen is off the scales.

The 13th Gate Asylum: Unforeseen Rating
95%

Bottom Line

We have seen a lot of great haunts over the years, but seldom if ever have we encountered one so genuinely frightening as this.

Unforeseen continues at The 13th Gate Asylum on 30 & 31, 7-11pm. The address is 1975 Lockwood Street, Oxnard, CA 93036. For ticket information, visit: the13thgateasylum.com

13th Gate Asylum Unforeseen Review: Photo Gallery

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Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.