When it comes to assessing Halloween haunts in Los Angeles, there is one element that Hollywood Gothique prizes more highly than production values: enthusiasm. We discovered an abundance of the latter quality at the Shoreline Village Haunted House in Long Beach, an amateur fund-raising effort by the local YMCA Youth Institute, built and populated by high school students. The construction is your basic, old-school PVC pipe and tarp,but there are a surprising number of scares inside, thanks to the diligent efforts of the cast. The result is the Halloween equivalent of a good garage band – not much technical polish but an awful lot of fun.
The guided tour takes you through seven rooms of a "haunted jail." Some guides give a verbal spiel; others lead silently. Either way, they set the pace so that visitors are always in the right place at the right time for a scare. We've grown fairly adept at anticipating jump-scares within a Halloween maze, but the Shoreline Village Haunted House fooled us several times, with well-concealed hiding places from which lurking monsters burst forth unexpectedly.
The simple design is augmented with a few more elaborate settings, including cells, a "Smolitary" room, and a morgue/infirmary (we heard it described variously, according to the different guides). Visitors must choose between the latter two: the Morgue features a mad doctor chopping a body; Solitary is a room filled with glowing faces, some of which are merely masks and some of which come unexpectedly to life. The haunt wisely saves its best set piece for last: an execution by electric chair, enhanced with flashing lights and sizzling sound effects - and a shrill performance by a live actor.
Shoreline Village Haunted House utilizes an excellent soundtrack: low rumbling overlaid with ambient musical tones. On top of this, an eerie, unseen voice moans, wails, and - occasionally addresses visitors by name! It's a simple but very effective touch, adding the personal element impossible to achieve in bigger haunts.
On its own, the haunted house might perhaps be a trifle small to justify a lengthy trek south to Long Beach, but it is an ideal local attraction for those visiting Shoreline Village, an appealing tourist destination, with several shops, restaurants, and snack food options (not to mention a bracing proximity to the Pacific Ocean). Additionally, the walk-through attraction is only one part of the Shoreline Village Halloween Haunt, which includes several other activities this weekend: a performance called "Dead Wedding" takes place Friday and Saturday; on Saturday, there will also be trick-or-treating, costume contest, and magic show. Sounds like a great way to spend Halloween.
Shoreline Village is located at 401-435 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach, 90802. The Haunted House continues on October 30 & 31. Hours are 3-9pm on Fridays and Saturday. Admission is $5. All proceeds benefit the YMCA Youth Institute. Get more information from the official website, or check out the links below.