Halloween Review: Rotten Apple's Not So Enchanted Forest

rotten-apple-tales-2016What can we tell you about the Rotten Apple 907 Home Haunt's 2016 Halloween extravaganza, Not So Enchanted Forest? We could say it is a grim take on the Brothers Grimm - yet another example of Rotten Apple's penchant for mixing fun and frights in a surprisingly elaborate walk-through environment.

We could say that. It even has the benefit of being true. But it seriously undersells the presentation short.

Not So Enchanted Forest is nothing short of incredible - how can an amateur haunt be this good? The exterior sets the scene with its woodsy look - fanciful, not quite real, perfectly suited for a fractured fairy tale. Once inside, you find yourself surrounded by foliage and crossing tiny bridges into an amazing simulacrum of a magical woodland, where you encounter a variety of semi-familiar characters - identifiable but not quite what you're expecting.

The trees hide many surprises, including a tree that...well, go and see for yourself. There's a werewolf - or maybe the Big Bad Wolf - and a life-sized Ginger Bread Man. We saw a little vixen we took for Red Riding Hood, though what she holds in her hand make her seem more like the Woodsman. Later, there's a castle-like interior with enchantresses, including Malificent chained to a wall.  And topping it all, there's a throne room with one of the most spectacular sights you will see this Halloween: a mythical reptile comes to life like a beloved pet bowing towards its mistress. You'll want to stop and stare, but keep moving so that those behind can get a chance to be as stunned as you.

Though it offers its share of jump-scares, Rotten Apple's Not So Enchanted Forest is not a visceral fright experience; rather, it's dark fantasy edging into horror, like the scarier sequences of Lord of the Rings (with the slightly tongue-in-cheek tone we've come to expect). The haunt's true distinction lies in its ability to craft wonderful environments that bring imagination vividly to life and people them with characters who strike the right tone, evoking an enjoyable level of fear suitable to a twisted fairy tale.

The word "immersive" gets throw around a lot. Though Rotten Apple is not an interactive theatrical production, its production values (sets, costumes, makeup and effects) immerse you in its world, letting you leave reality behind while wandering for a few minutes into an enchanting land of macabre make-believe - a world so beguiling that its demented denizens will barely be able to scare you away.

Rotten Apple resumes this weekend, running on October 29-31, 7-10pm. The address is 907 N. California Street, Burbank, CA 91505. For more info, visit: rottenapple907.com.

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.

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