Fans of haunted houses or mazes know the drill when going through their favorite haunt. You line up for usually over an hour and then walk through the maze in sort of a conga line with your friends and whoever else happens to be around you. If you are a fan of detail, you can try and stop in a particular room, but after thirty seconds or so, you find yourself being pushed forward by someone behind you or even a staff member encouraging you to keep it moving.
While most houses have a set storyline, it’s nearly impossible to comprehend, yet alone follow, because of small details you need to pick up amidst strobe lights, creatures popping in your face and 95% darkness.
Delusion takes what you know about haunted attractions and almost reinvents it entirely. As many fans of this blog know, I am an enormous fan of immersive theater shows like Sleep No More, Then She Fell and Drip. This new haunted play takes groups of 10 at a time through a real house in Los Angeles every 15 minutes.
The experience is designed to be completely intimate, immersive and unnerving. For Jon Braver, Delusion is a dream he had while growing up in Chicago. Disillusioned by haunts that just scare customers for the sake of scaring them, he wanted there more meaning behind those scares. He created a small haunted house on a very limited budget where he pulsed people through every few minutes and the house was more about the story than anything else.
While the house was moderately successful, it was more of a hobby than a career. So he moved out to Los Angeles to begin a career in stunt work for the film industry and has been very successful at it. His list of credits include: The Dark Knight Rises, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, even a zombie in Disney’s The Haunted Mansion movie!
Even after working all of these big Hollywood movies, he never let go of this idea to do a haunted house with more of a theater angle. After talking to his co-workers for years about it, he got some of his friends in the stunt business on board with the idea.
The result is Delusion, which started in 2011 in a real 170-year-old mansion located in a Los Angeles neighborhood. The story centers around a real earthquake in San Francisco. Jon took this real event and added the legend that the epicenter happened exactly on top of an old mental institution.
Turns out, there was a scientist that was considered a bit of an outlaw in the medical community because of his unorthodox methods for treating patients. Guests discover that these patients had the power to manipulate their physical surroundings simply by using their minds. They could make objects and even people move across a room at will thanks to some of Braver’s stunt work expertise.
If you’re looking for scares every fifteen seconds, Delusion may not be the haunted attraction for you. Braver deliberately controls the pacing of audience members via his actors as they navigate the house. This is also not a passive experience. Guests will have to interact with the cast along the way and be given certain tasks, such as being asked to retrieve a key from the hand of a “sleeping grandmother.” You will be traversing up and down steps and you may even be chased. So you decide if running for your life is best suited in six inch heels.
Neil Patrick Harris came out to see Delusion during its first year and fell in love with the project. Harris is an enormous fan of the immersive theater movement and took on the co-producer role as a passion project in 2012. NPH’s celebrity gave the show a ton of great press, which sent people out in droves. 2012 was the year that truly proved the haunted play was a success when they tripled the amount of nights it was performed. They also added a bar area while guests waited to enter the mansion.
The second year of Delusion propelled the story forward as well, with guests taking on the role of ex-patients of that famed San Francisco mental institution seen in the first year. In this version of the show, audience members were tasked with trying to find out what happened to the unorthodox doctor.
All new special effects were added during the second year as well. For example, there was a point in last year’s show where audience members were told to point at an actor and mentally push him down the hall. The actor zips down the hall at a breakneck speed, all set to a special made soundtrack for Delusion that was produced in Denmark.
For 2013, the story continues where guests are now faced to make moral choices about the fate of some of those patients from the San Francisco hospital. This year, the play is in a different Los Angeles home, primarily used for filming – and perfect to rig for Hollywood style special effects and stunts.
Jon told me that this year, the story will get a little heavier. Guests will find themselves getting a chance to play God, as they will decide on the fate of various characters along the way. However, at the end, guests might walk away from Delusion questioning their own belief in God – adding another dimension to the show entirely.
I am definitely intrigued. Jon’s dedication and passion for immersive theater is downright contagious. If you want to see something truly unique this Halloween season, go check out Delusion in Los Angeles. For more information on dates, ticketing and more visit www.hauntedplay.com. For the latest in themed entertainment, follow Theme Park University on Twitter by clicking here or like our TPU Facebook Page by clicking here!