Top 5 Misconceptions About Freakling Brothers Victim Experience

Editor’s Note: Some of the material, language and concepts in today’s article may not be suitable for younger audiences, the squeamish or those that are easily offended. Reader discretion is advised.
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Out of the hundreds of stories that I have written on Theme Park University, one subject stands out by far as being the most controversial and talked about and that’s the Freakling Brothers haunted attractions in Las Vegas.
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Tens of thousands of people have come to this site to read about how immersive, intense and frankly, insane this event is and for good reason. There really is no other commercial haunt like it anywhere else in the world and just reading about it often blows people’s minds.
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

For those unfamiliar, Freakling Brothers runs three haunted houses every year: Castle VampyreCircus of Horrors and the Gates of Hell. Several years ago, Gates of Hell became one of the first haunts in the country to be rated R due to the graphic content and the requirement of patrons to be over 18 and have to sign a waiver to go through.
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Hell simulates what it would be like to die and puts its victims in the position of what death could be like if they were in various scenarios. Without giving too much away, victims are put in several scenes where they are touched, forced to get down on their knees and are subjected to things that anyone would find shocking (cough).
Victim Experience

Copyright Freakling Brothers

Anyway, in 2012, rumor had it that the last group of the night that went through Gates of Hell got a special treat, as the actors spent some extra time with the guests and made it just a little more unbearable to go through the haunt. Turns out, those rumors were true and people ended up waiting at the end of the night just to try and be in that last group to get that little extra something that the rest of the patrons did not.
Photo Courtesy Stephen Krstulich

Photo Courtesy Stephen Krstulich

This spurred the creation of the Victim Experience in 2013, where guests paid extra to be the last group to go through the Gates of Hell and they got to experience a much higher level of “torture” and a much more personalized experience. Last year, I had a guest spill her guts on what she recalled on her time as a victim. While she called the safe word before getting all the way through (most do), what she described was nothing short of terrifying. Not like movie monster scary, but psychologically terrifying.


Since then, I have talked about the articles with friends and seen them reposted on countless forums and message boards. Whether you would personally be interested in doing this kind of specialized hands-on haunt or not, everyone seems to have opinions about the Victim Experience.
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

I decided to talk with JT Mollner, who was in the middle of setting up Freakling Brothers in their new location this year.  Mollner is the creator of the Victim Experience and gave Theme Park University exclusive access to go behind-the-scenes and see how they put this event on every night. We specifically talked about some of the comments I have heard over the last year. I am literally going to cut and paste the top five most commonly read comments about the Freakling Brothers.


To protect the people who said the comments, I won’t include their names or what site they are associated with. Just know they aren’t isolated. Many people share these thoughts and these are the top 5 most commonly heard.
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

5.  “I’m not trying to upset anyone, but I clicked the link and it honestly sounds and looks like a bunch of sick fucks who have found a way to avoid prison time related to getting their jollies, by finding willing ‘victims’.”


Many people see an event like this as “abuse” and in some ways they are right. Just like riding a rickety wooden roller coaster, which can be abuse to your spinal column, this is a different type of “abuse”. However, everyone who goes through this knows exactly what they will be subjected to before the experience begins. It’s all in the waiver.


Mollner continues, “We have had lawyers look over everything. We are a business, which means we have certain legal limits on what we can and can’t do. In addition, we are professionals. The idea is that the victims are in simulated danger, not actual danger. We want the experience to feel chaotic, when in reality, it’s all very rehearsed.”
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

4. “I can almost guarantee they don’t do thorough background checks. They probably just hold auditions.”


Good news! Freakling Brothers does indeed have background checks on everyone who works for them, but it goes far beyond that. “We look for people who are sympathetic and are genuinely good people. If someone comes in and only focuses on how much they are going to ‘mess someone up,’ they aren’t a right fit.”


“In reality, even though our actors may not seem like they want the victim to get through this, they are all secretly rooting for them. We know exactly how long each scene will last and what they have to go through and move on. Every one of our actors wants to see people get through this. To tough it out. Even though they are paid to seem like they want you to fail, in reality, they are rooting for you.”


Mollner explained that everything that they do in the Victim Experience is all rehearsed and choreographed.  In fact, they even have some professional wrestlers on staff who know how to do something like this. Indeed, just like certain forms of theatrical wrestling, while it may seem violent, it’s all rehearsed.


“Everything down to where the actors place their hands on you, to where you are moved and with what kind of force is used is all planned out in advance. To the victim, it all feels like chaos and that’s the point. We want you to feel like this is all out of your control, but in reality, we have rehearsed this many times.”
Freakling Brothers

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

3.“How can this be legal? You can’t sign away your rights. This is sick and evil. This actually makes me despair for society. I just… Thank God (literally) for my faith because that’s the only thing that gives me hope when faced with this barbaric evil business.”


Here’s the thing. No one going into the Victim Experience is going in “blind.” Everyone reads the Freakling Brothers website or articles like mine and decides if it’s for them or not.  After that, you book a time slot weeks in advance (I believe they are already sold out for 2014). Once you arrive, you read over the waiver and sign it assuming that this is something you want to do.  No one is being swindled and the business is far from barbaric, but more on that later.
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

2.  “As an abuse survivor, I am extremely offended. My ‘experiences’ were not a fucking ‘thrill ride.’ I was afraid for my life and sanity for most of my life. Fuck this so hard. I am judging the fuck out of everyone involved in this fuckery. It feels like they are spitting in the face of every survivor, I think the term ‘victim’ is bullshit, I was lucky I made it out alive.”


Mollner explains, “We are providing a unique form of entertainment. This is what we consider ‘art.’ It’s not for everyone, but there are clearly people who are interested in going through an extreme event like this. People are looking for something different in the haunt industry and these kinds of experiences are definitely striking a chord with some people.”


I specifically talked with Mollner about what kind of a toll this takes on the actors who worked at the Victim Experience, because this isn’t like working at a typical haunted house. For example, 99% of haunts around the country are mazes where you go through, something jumps out, you shriek….and then you laugh… and move on to the next scare.


There is nothing funny about what people go through in the Victim Experience – at all. No one laughs after a scare, because this is a totally different type of terror. This is one that takes a lot of mental willpower to get through. The screams heard in this type of haunt are nothing like the ones you will hear in Knott’s Scary Farm.


“At the end of every shift, we have kind of a cool down session where all the actors and staff talk about what happened that night. We talk about what we did well and mention some things we can improve on, just like any kind of post-shift meeting.” Mollner continues, “We don’t let anyone leave for at least an hour. After that, some people stay on site for a while and just talk. Others go to the bar to unwind and some just sit in their car and smoke weed.  Still, we all need time to decompress.”
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

1. There are people in this world who are subject to this kind of abuse for a multitude of reasons that are not their doing. The thought of subjecting yourself to this on purpose seems incredibly fucked up.  


This is the hardest one to defend, because I can’t possibly speak for everyone who either wants to go through or has “survived” theVictim Experience.  Being a lover of theme parks, I can tell you there is something internal about people “surviving” a big thrill, whether it be a roller coaster or their first haunted house.  There is something about going through those things and “conquering” them.


Yet, for some people, they want more.  A lot more. I have dozens of friends who often tell me haunted houses bore them because they are all the same. No one can say the Victim Experience is boring, that’s for damn sure.


Mollner adds, “Many of the people who have gone through have contacted us saying it changed their life. They have come out the other side, even if they had to call the safe word, saying they see the world differently. Some are less afraid of things. Some feel that if they got through this, they can do anything. It has a profound effect on different people.”
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

After talking with Mollner on several occasions, I can tell you he’s a pretty normal guy. He doesn’t have intentions of messing with anyone’s head and from everything I can tell, he’s got his shit together.  You, the reader, certainly don’t have to like the Victim Experience, or want to do it.  However, it isn’t your right (or anyone else’s) to having the things you don’t like cease to exist. Go online and read the reviews of the people who have gone through this and they are overwhelmingly positive. Many people have said they want to do it again, and have!
Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Photo by Stephen Krstulich

Want to see what it’s like inside the Circus of Horrors, Castle Vampyre and Gates of Hell?  Click this link to go through each one as Theme Park University was granted exclusive photo access inside each of these legendary mazes.


If you’re brave enough to do this and want more information, visit Also, make sure you follow Theme Park University on Twitter and like our Facebook Page for more insight to the themed entertainment industry.
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  1. hbrand1k
    Posted October 13, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    When the Victim Experience debuted last year I tried to get a ticket however they were sold out. I jumped on it this year and was fortunate enough to score one on Halloween night. After purchasing my ticket I did a ton of research to get an idea of exactly what it was I signed up for, and after reading as many reviews and spoilers as I could I found myself not scared as much as I was disappointed in the comments posted by a vast amount of people who haven’t even been through it.

    There are a ton of comments from people who have somehow misinterpreted this idea and turned this experience into something so far off from what it is. Every negative comment has been posted without thought, I am certain, however I have a response for them all. Let’s start with misconception #4 &#5: If you thought before you posted you would realize that this is not a ‘bunch of sick fucks trying to get their jollies off by finding willing victims’, it is quite the opposite actually. This is a business, where they don’t just hire anybody who walks in, they do use background checks and it just so happened they saw a desire from the the public for something more, created it and gave them what they wanted. From a business perspective this was an ingenious idea that will reach tons of people who are tired of the same old.

    Misconception #3: If you spent a little more time reading and less time judging, as I am certain your faith suggests you do, you would see that no one is ‘signing their rights away’. What the waiver is for is to inform you of what you are signing up to experience. Signing your rights away would not be legal, which this experience is, and they would not offer you a safe word in that case. I am a Christian, I have my faith just as you have yours, and more so I try to live by it. Bringing God into something like this is a cheap shot, and proves nothing other than the fact that you know little about the bible. Matthew 7: 1-2: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” This is not a biblical debate, this entertainment that does not effect anyones faith or society in its whole.

    And finally misconception #2 & #1: I too am a survivor of abuse, from an ex boyfriend of my mother’s. For 7 years it was hell, and due to my age I never got the chance to kill the asshole, but guess what, my mother, my brother and I survived and escaped that horror. That experience made me the strong individual I am today. I don’t look for sympathy due to my past, its over. The word ‘Victim’ is just a word. I never thought of us as victim’s I see my family and I as survivors, so attaching your horrid past to this word saddens me. This is just an expansion of an industry where people like to feel like survivors, why else do we go through haunted houses each year? Though I will be signing a waiver I get a safe word where I can end the experience at any moment, you don’t get those in abusive relationships. I have lived and survived so many tragedies in my life I am CHOOSING to see if I can make it one hour where everything is staged.

    These people are not ‘sick fucks’, not ‘horrible barbaric people’, they are providing an extreme form of entertainment where those who sign up know full and well what they are about to experience, and if they don’t like it they can stop it at anytime with one word…no one should judge the ones who put this on nor the ones who decide to go for it and see what they are made of. There are so many bad things in the world people, try keeping your judgments to those.
    Personally I thank The Freakling Bros. for providing the opportunity to this experience. If I have made it through my past I can make it through this, and if I can make it through this there is no ceiling to what I can do when I control my fear.

  2. mesmera13
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I went through Gates of Hell 2 years ago. I came out with huge bruises forming on my arms and hips. I was roughly grabbed and literally thrown up against walls. I know that you sign a waiver and told that there will be physical contact, but I didn’t expect it to be that rough. Because of that I will nev er go into Gates again. I have no problems with the other 2 which fit the definition of a haunted house, but not Gates, which is just a way to treat people badly and get away with it.

    • hbrand1k
      Posted October 16, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      People ride roller coasters as well as other amusement park rides and get bruised all of the time. Why is it that this is such a big deal to everyone?? Each one of these individuals sign a waiver, which is far from a normal haunted house proceeder, and it never once crossed any of their minds that maybe this would be slightly more extreme than they are expecting? They never thought maybe all of the Freakling Bros. advertisements were true? Never questioned or thought to themselves, hmmm what exactly is an R rated haunted house?

      To people like the one who posted the comment above this is not ‘a way for them to treat people badly and get away with it’, the truth is you all get a safe word which you can use the second someone touches you, you can use it the second you walk in the house if you want, and it will stop the experience then and there and you will be escorted out….but you all chose instead to stay, then go home and write negative feedback about the place. To anyone with half a brain you guys are the ones to blame for your horrible experiences. You went all the way through the house only to say what bad people run it, how sick they must be. To me a sick person is one who experiences something they are uncomfortable with and just lets it keep on happening. Commenting that it wasn’t for you, you didn’t enjoy the experience, is one thing, but blaming these people who are providing a form of entertainment you CHOSE to continue through makes you sad individuals. Why don’t you try saying ‘I didn’t like gates, it was too extreme for me, but I stuck it out and didn’t use the safe word given because truly it was exciting at the time’… least then you would be giving the whole story and not your one sided version. Pretty much you all are admitting you are flat out stupid for signing things you don’t read, going through stuff you don’t like and just enjoy band wagons of bashing.

  3. Pale
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    I have to disagree with your response to misconception #3. I’d like to participate in the Victim Experience, yet I feel nearly blind despite my rigorous search for articles and reviews. Though I am reassured by JT Mollner’s statements regarding the priority of safety and the rehearsal and choreography of the event down to individual motions, I don’t feel enough information is presented to make an informed decision and consent. The Victim Experience website describes the event in only the broadest strokes. I have found only two reviews that offer specific details of the event and neither of those really answered my questions. I think the boundaries of the Victim Experience can be offered without ruining the surprise. Specifically, what is the limit on clothing removal? Pants stay on or not? Underwear such as dive shorts stay on or not? Will participants be struck with hands or impact implements? Will participants be instructed to eat something? What level of marking or other superficial injuries does the typical participant receive?

    Frankly, I don’t want to buy tickets, get to the event site, and then find out someone’s going to tell me to eat a peanut butter sandwich in a room full of cats. It’s an absurd example I know, but illustrative of my questions about the event. Simply put, I’d like a little more information before signing up for a no refund event where my only recourse is ending the experience through a safeword.

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