In 2011, Delusion horrified haunt-goers like no other Halloween event in Los Angeles. For 2012, Delusion: The Blood Rite is bigger, badder, bolder. But is it better? To find out, come along with us...if you dare!
If you saw last Halloween's debut of Delusion: Presented by Haunted Play (reviewed here), you already know whether you want to revisit this unique event (correct answer: you do). However, you may be wondering how Delusion's new incarnation, The Blood Rite, can possibly live up to - let alone surpass - the original experience. What's new? What's different? Having been initiated into the wonders of Delusion's interactive, theatrical approach to haunted house events in 2011, will you re-experience all the thrills during a return encounter for Halloween 2012?
Delusion: The Blood Rite is more interactive, more extensive, but less intensely frightening. There are more spectacular stunts and special effects, but the ghouls inhabiting the crumbling mansion come at you in ones and twos, rather than swarming around you in hordes. There is more emphasis on exposition, but it lacks the Terminator-style "shout it on the run while evading the lethal menace relentlessly pursuing you" approach that galvanized the action in 2011. The story is new, but it follows much the same path and hits many of the same beats as the original. In short, Delusion: The Blood Rite follows the standard sequel strategy: take what worked the first time and ramp it up.
Fortunately, Delusion 2012 has one bloody ace up its sleeve that raises this Halloween's presentation to a level beyond its predecessor: a divide-and-conquer approach that singles out particular members of each group for specialized attention of a very unnerving sort. At various points, two visitors are sent off on their own down a dark corridor; someone who loses a game of musical chairs is selected for sacrifice; a brave soul enters a bathroom to retrieve a key, only to have a door slammed behind him, cutting him off from the rest of the group; and an unfortunate victim is chained to a wall during the final evocation that unleashes a demon from hell.
In short, the experience can be vastly different for each member of the group. How much terror you experience depends on what task you may be pressed into performing. The timid may successfully hide within the group, avoiding the worst terrors, while the brave volunteers may end up seeing scenes completely different from those who remained with the huddle masses. This narrative-style (which harkens back to the play Tamara, seen decades ago in the American Legion Hall on Highland Avenue) creates a "Garden of Forking Paths" that virtually requires multiple trips in order to fully appreciate each and every aspect of this unique Halloween event.
If, perchance, you do not have the luxury of repeat visits to Delusion: The Blood Rite, there is an eerie lounge area on the property, with ghoulish bartenders serving drinks with ghastly names such as "Blood Type-O," where you can convene with your fellow survivors and compare notes, learning what happened to the guy trapped in the bathroom (he - or possibly she - spends a few minutes in the company of a creepy little girl who wants to play a funny game to see who bleeds the most). The after-party atmosphere, enhanced by period music (Delusion: The Blood Rite is set during the Prohibition Era) offers the perfect way to decompress and regain equilibrium after the nerve-wracking experience within Delusion's haunted hallways.
So, is Delusion: The Blood Rite a worthy follow-up to Delusion? Yes. Is it better? I think I preferred the swarming hordes last year, when the story-telling seemed more compressed, with less exposition telling visitors what they needed to do in order to proceed. Nevertheless, I went through twice last night, and the second go-round was even better than the first. That's often the big secret of interactive events: what you get out is based on what you put in. Get in the mood; step up to the plate; jump into the horror instead of hiding in the background. Raise the bloody cup of wine and drink deeply. You will not be disappointed.
Delusion: The Blood Rite continues its run on October 4-6, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 30-31; November 1-3, 8-10. The address is 2218 S Harvard Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90018. Tickets are $45. Visit www.hauntedplay.com for more information.