Beware the Dark Realm 2017 Review

Ghosts, demons, dragons - warning you to Beware the Dark Realm. Will you ignore the danger and explore the dark dungeons of this cursed castle? Then come along with us - if you dare!
Beware the Dark Realm 2017 Review: Exterior

Beware the Dark Realm castle With a name like "Beware the Dark Realm," you can't say you weren't warned. The gray stones of the castle towers are ominous enough - more so when enhanced by the dramatic strains of Midnight Syndicate, while a ghoul-faced king and other wretched creatures prowl the road, searching for victims to lure inside. Those foolish enough to enter this Halloween home haunt have only themselves to blame, but curiosity is not easily deterred. What new terrors await?

Beware the Dark Realm 2017 Review: Interior

Beware the Dark RealmThe path through dismal corridors of the haunted castle has been altered for Halloween 2017. The familiar horrors have relocated to new hiding places, where you will not expect them, and new terrors have been added. A witch beguiles you near the entrance; demons lunge from the shadows; a dragon roar's from a darkened recess; a pepper's ghost lurks around a corner; a demented torturer chops away at body parts, asking for volunteers.

Those lucky enough to survive these frights will not feel so fortunate when they realize their "reward" is a descent into the castle's newest addition, a dank dungeon filled with miserable souls seeking release. Carefully tread a narrow path down the center - the walls are close, and the bars are not tight enough to prevent desperate prisoners from reaching out for help.

Beware the Dark Realm 2017 Review: Production Value

Beware the Dark RealmBeware the Dark Realm is impressive from first sight. The two-story Medieval castle facade completely eclipses the house behind it, and the towers set further back and seen over the top of the wall suggest a bigger structure hidden within. The actual walk-through does not disappoint, taking visitors through several rooms and corridors - and even something that feels like a courtyard. The sense of being within a haunted castle is wonderfully sustained from beginning to end with a combination of great sets and low-key lighting - the perfect environment for ancient curses and damned souls.

The costumes, masks, makeup, and effects all suggest a professional haunted house attraction. Not that the technology is state-of-the-art, but everything is cleverly presented to achieve maximum effect - we're not sure the dragon would sustain scrutiny by the cold light of day, but in the shadowy recess of the castle, it is awesome. Likewise, the more visible characters wear detailed makeup; those lurking in shadows wear masks. Whatever their appearance, they delight in tormenting their guests, all of whom receive special, personal attention because groups are limited to five at a time, sometimes fewer.

Beware the Dark Realm 2017 Review: Conclusion

Beware the Dark RealmWith stark battlements and stone walls, Beware the Dark Realm immediately won us over when we first visited the cursed castle during Halloween 2014, the home haunt's sophomore year. Since then, we have occasionally wondered whether we were simply reacting to the impact of something new, which happened to be stylistically and thematically in line with our preferences for haunted house attractions. But Beware the Dark Realm has expanded and improved so much during the intervening years that it has quelled any doubts. It's one of the top five Halloween home haunts in Los Angeles.

Beware the Dark Realm home haunt resumes on October 27-28; hours are 7-10pm. The address for  is 28621 Sugar Pine Way, Santa Clarita, CA 91390. The haunt is free, but fast passes are available for a $5 donation to the local non-profit Santa Clarita Domestic Violence Center. Click here for their Facebook page.

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.