Haunted House Review: The IT Experience

If you have yet to visit the Neibolt House in Hollywood (otherwise known as "The IT Experience"), this weekend is your last chance. The walk-through haunted house - a promotional event for the film version of Stephen King's IT, which opened Friday - is scheduled to wrap up on Sunday, September 10. Hours are 11am to 11pm. Advanced reservations are booked solid, but the walk-up line is open. The cutoff time for getting in line varies depending on crowd size, but 6pm is a decent approximation. Expect at least a three-hour wait early in the day, longer later in the evening. Visitors enter in groups, which are allowed to move at a slow pace to peruse the interior sets and props and leisure. Group size is seven in the morning and afternoon, 10 or 11 as the crowds get bigger later in the day. Admission is free.

Located on the corner of Hollywood and Vine in the heart of Hollywood, The IT Experience presents an impressive facade; even more impressive, the interior is richly detailed and convincing as the exterior. Though essentially a "pop-up" haunt, the Neibolt House has the look and feel of a permanent structure, complete with two floors (you ascend by a narrow, circular stair case, then later descend a more conventional stairway). This is much more than a simple fun house; much like Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, this is an ambitious attempt to put visitors inside a horror movie environment.

But is it scary? Well...

The IT Experience is a bit like a guided tour, offering eager horror fans an opportunity to explore the Neibolt House in minute detail (still and video photography are encouraged). As the tour moves from room to room, there are creepy sounds, some mechanical effects and animatronics, but only one or two live actors. The vibe is creepy, punctuated with only a few shocks and scares: A sinister voice lashes out from the darkness. Hands reach through holes in the walls. A coffin pops open; it is empty, but anyone foolish enough to look inside will get a blast of air in the face. A trio of closed doors hide three levels of fright (Not Scary, Scary, and Very Scary), and "volunteers" will be selected to open the doors and confront what lies beyond. Best of all, the final portion leads visitors below the house, down into the sewers, where Pennywise can be seen lurking in the murky tunnels.

As a free walk-through experience, IT is effectively sinister; however, the 18-and-over age limit is about five years too high for the mild level of fright, which seems calibrated not to terrorize out-of-town tourists and mildly curious walk-in visitors. Hardcore haunt-seekers are unlikely to have their nerves electrified, but fans of Stephen King's novel and its film adaptation should enjoy the chance to immerse themselves inside a wonderfully realized simulacrum of the story's environment.

Get more info at the attraction's official website: thatswhereitlives.com.

Photos copyright 2017 by Warren So

The IT Experience: Rating
  • 95%
    Atmosphere and Sets - 95%
  • 70%
    Scares - 70%

Bottom Line

This free walk-through haunted house provides an enjoyable tour through a convincing environment, but the mild scares do not justify the 18-and-over rating.

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.