1929 S. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN
This year we made our first visit down to Indianapolis, home to many fine haunts, to check out a brand new one called House of Trepidation. This one contains three separate haunts, all linked with a theme which, in this case, was one of a mad scientist/doctor who experimented on patients that he kidnapped or otherwise detained. Their spirits now roam the location, seeking revenge.
Each of the three haunts had a different theme, with the main one being the doctor's abandoned mansion, filled with decaying rooms and angry ghosts. The second haunt was the doctor's lab, featuring the remains of the doctor's experiments, and the final one was Purgatory, a place where peoples' worst nightmares and fears come to life. Visitors moved from one haunt to the next, with each new one being introduced by a different character.
Overall, we'd have to give high marks for set design. The haunt was located in a warehouse type area, which was quite nondescript (and a bit hard to see, given the lack of signage) from the outside, but on the inside it was transformed into the facade of an old manor house, which was the main haunt, along with other buildings located towards the back that housed the other two haunts. Each facade had sculpted features such as archways and other designs, and were well lit to give visitors the feeling they really were stepping into an old abandoned location.
The sets design was well done inside, too, with each scene featuring detailed backgrounds, such as the elaborate entryway into the main house with its crumbling staircase, and the lab scenes with medical equipment. Even the walls in between scenes were more than just dark hallways. They all had textures, parts where the walls looked as though they had holes in them, and smaller props in lit alcoves. The entryway to Purgatory, too, deserves special mention, with its long, low-lit corridor lined with wall hangings.
Each haunt was laid out in a similar fashion, with scene followed by a series of winding hallways, followed by another scene. Each one contained about 10-15 scenes, and when visitors exited one haunt they were guided to the next one and given an introductory story by a live actor. Each of these actors was quite good, from the old lady who explained about the doctor's mansion, to the nurse who described his lab, to the devil-like butler who introduced visitors to Purgatory, all played their parts well, keeping the intros interesting without being too over the top or lengthy.
As for the actors actually in the various haunt scenes, there didn't seem to be too many of them, which might be explained by the fact that this was a weeknight preview and not an actual opening night. The ones that were there were mostly of the "pop out and startle" variety, with almost all oft hem following the pattern of distraction and then jumping out to surprise passers by. It did seem on our visit that the timing of the actors was off, with most of them waiting until the past person had passed them to jump out, causing us to have to turn around to look at the actor as we made our way out of the room.
One clever trick we noticed was the use of pre-recorded voices in some rooms, which had us looking around for live actors and set up the scare from the actual ones in the room. We've not seen this done in any other haunt, although it's a simple and clever idea.
Each haunt lasted about five minutes, perhaps six, so the entire haunt total time was 15-18 minutes. At a $22 price point that's not too bad, but over 20 minutes would perhaps be better. Overall, we'd rate House of Trepidation highly for set design, which was clever and detailed in most areas, and about a three for acting as it tended to need more variation. However, for a first year haunt it was quite good. We've been to others that really looked as though they could have used a lot more preparation, but House of Trepidation seemed to have all of the basics together with just some refinement needed.
We'd recommend visiting House of Trepidation as part of a visit to the many haunts in the Indianapolis area, and look forward to seeing it again in the future!