On Friday, November 4, the Reign of Terror Haunted House‘s final lights-on show provided the perfect final curtain to Halloween 2022. A seasonal perennial, it has made only incremental adjustments since 2021, but recent additions like last year’s Un-Hallowed Grounds add a little extra ectoplasm while older sections continue to thrill: the mixed couple in front of us, one first-timer and one longtime fan, screamed in unison; on the way out, the newbie admitted to his girlfriend, “I was okay through the first half, and then I just lost it.”
This year’s new feature is Cave-In, an addition to the Miner’s Revenge section. For many years, the haunted mine has featured an “explosion” that rocks a rickety bridge as you cross. Now, in a subsequent room, the cave roof collapses several inches. It’s a pretty impressive physical effect that had visitors running for safety, hands held over their heads.
Otherwise, the familiar settings, props, and special effects remain the stars of the show, but the current layout has so many twists and turns that it is impossible to anticipate what is waiting around each corner. When Reign of Terror moved to a different building inside Janns Marketplace last year, the path through the haunt was heavily revised, following a trend established over the preceding years of eliminating wide-open, transitional spaces between the haunt’s many themed settings (e.g., The Haunted House, The Asylum, Casa Blood). Starting with the tight prison corridors of the Containment section, the walkthrough now feels claustrophobic and compact, more like one continuous experience than a series of different settings laid end to end (even though that is exactly what Reign of Terror is – think of it as if all of Halloween Horror Nights’ mazes were placed under one roof).
Unlike some other 2022 Halloween haunts that basically reprised last year’s show, Reign of Terror has not lost its luster. Its twenty-minute tour through a variety of elaborate settings, mixing mechanical scares and live actors, delivers old school haunting that never goes out of style. If you did not see their Halloween presentation in October, you have one final chance tonight; after that you have to wait for Ho Ho Ho Horror in December.
Our rating of Reign of Terror's Cave-In
1 – Avoid
2 – Not All Bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See
Although there is not much new this year, much of it feels new, because the twists and turns of the revised layout hide familiar scares in unfamiliar places, making it impossible to anticipate what comes next. Traditional haunting at its best: jump-scares, animatronics, and sets that rival the best at Universal Studios.
Reign of Terror give a final lights-out performance on Saturday, November 5, from 7pm to 11pm. The haunt will reopen for their annual winter holiday event Ho Ho Ho Horror on December 9 & 10. The location is Janss Marketplace, 197 North Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks. Get more information at rothauntedhouse.com.