Review: The Séance

Crossorads Escape Games' Halloween presentation is no mere escape room - it is an interactive theatrical experience that opens the portals to Hell!

Do you dare summon the dead? Have you the courage to confront the forces of darkness? Will your nerves withstand a face-to-face confrontation with a Demon from Hell?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then you may be brave enough to enjoy The Séance, an interactive theatrical experience playing at Crossorads Escape Games in Anaheim during the Halloween 2019 season.

The Séance Review: Set Up

You arrive at Crossroads Escape Games, an unassuming building with convenient parking, and check in for your experience. After stowing your valuables in a locker, your group of eight is escorted to an upstairs room, where The Séance takes place. Madam Ruby asks you to choose a seat around her table; each place is marked by a mystic rune, which gives a clue to your personality and possibly influences your role in the unfolding drama.

Of course you are there to summon spirits, but midway through, there is a revelation of something more personal at stake. To save a lost soul, you must find clues and solve riddles, open a portal to the spirit world, wrestle a mysterious box from an evil spirit, and exorcise a malevolent demon who materializes in your midst.

It's a tall order, but if you remain calm and follow Madam Ruby's guidance, you may survive.

The Séance Review: Analysis

The Séance is essentially a one-woman show with the audience cast as supporting players in her one-act play. To some extent, the plot exists to tie together the puzzles and scares, but it also works as a dramatic narrative, leading to a terrifying climax and a satisfying resolution. Escape room elements are definitely involved, but they serve a role in the story, forcing the audience to play a role in the unfolding action.

The opening exposition goes on a bit, and we're not sure the plot twist adds much - it's meant to raise the stakes, but it doesn't much affect the flow of the story. The audience has signed up for a frightening Halloween experience, so the revelation this is something more dangerous than a typical séance doesn't register very strongly.

Once all the cards are on the table, The Séance delivers. The richly textured setting is loaded with props and decorations which not only serve as hiding places for clues but also immerse the audience in the eerie atmosphere of the story. Music, lighting effects, and puppetry combine to convey marvelous supernatural manifestations. The emphasis is on shivers rather than jump-scares, but there are a couple of too-close-for-comfort encounters that are as effective as anything inside a traditional Halloween haunted house attraction.

The Séance Review: Conclusion

Crossroads Escape Games' Halloween presentation makes good use of available resources . The confined location of The Séance - a single room - doesn't feel as if it were driven by economic considerations; it's the perfect setting to contain the story, which is more about invisible worlds beyond our senses than physical space. The acting performance we saw was amazing (three actresses trade off in the role at different showtimes).

The Séance is not an escape room, not a conventional play, and not a typical haunted house, but it combines elements of all three, creating its own form immersive theatre. As the old-fashioned jump-and-scare tactics of traditional Halloween haunts lose their luster, The Séance provides an hour-long experience that engages the audience far more intimately in the scares. Those who dare its challenges will feel not only the fear of facing demons up close but also the triumph of personally defeating the forces of darkness.

The Séance Rating
4

Bottom Line

For a $45 admission, you get a combination of escape room, haunted house, and interactive theatrical experience that immerses you in an eerie horror story that builds to a terrifying conclusion.

The Séance has had its run extended through November 23rd at Cross Roads Escape Games. Tickets start at $45 per person. Admission is limited to those over 16. The address is 4245 East La Palma Avenue, Anaheim, 92807. For more information visit CrossRoadsEscapeGames.com/the-seance.

The Seance PosterCredits: 

Written & Directed by Madison Rhoades

CAST:
Ruby: Geovanna Flores/Amy Melendrez
Ruby/ Puppeteer: Tara Virgil
Puppeteer: Brittani Prenger
Puppeteer: Stepy Kamei
Puppeteer: Desiree Nguyen
Ruth’s Voice and Likeness: Jessie Wise

CREW:
Asst. Director: Luke Rhoades
Technical Director: Luke Rhoades
Scenic Designer: Madison Rhoades
Lighting Designer: Ian Momii
Sound Designer: Dan Waldkirch
Lighting and Sound Technician: Ian Momii
Costume Designer: Lauren Orgill
Puppet Designers and Fabricators: Madison Rhoades, Zach Dahm, and Nathan Manahan
Special Effects: Christian Mutter
Prop Master: Lauren Orgill
Prop Illustrations: Alexa Harzan

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.