REVIEW: Alone: An Existential Haunting 2013

ALONE_2013_6541Located in a nondescript building at the Odd Fellows Temple in Downtown Los Angeles, Alone: An Existential Haunting was described as “one part interactive theater, one part psychological haunting”, where guests had to be over the age of 18, sign a waiver, and experience it completely by themselves. I was immediately intrigued at this new haunted attraction, and hoped it would be similar to Blackout Haunted House, but something more supernatural in nature, without “torture” elements.

The more I learned about Alone, the more intrigued I became. I knew there would be a lot of aggressive touching/contact involved – something I’ve experienced before in a haunted attraction, but never by myself or more than general grabbing and pushing. I don’t mind the touching too much, and it’s interesting to see how many attractions have gone this route of being “extreme”. Most of all, I was interested in seeing how it compared to Blackout in execution. I personally haven’t experienced Blackout because it’s not my type of thing, and I fully respect those who love it; I just never had the desire to attend. It appeared that I wasn’t the only one comparing the two – the crew has openly discussed it, explaining that Alone compares to Blackout, just as Delusion is to The Purge: Fear the Night, since they are both interactive experiences. Very well said, and two thumbs up for acknowledging the fans and addressing their questions! Lastly, Alone was funded with the help of Kickstarter – something very rare, and hard to come by for any event, let alone a haunted attraction.

The location in Los Angeles wasn’t hard to find – the logo of Alone (a simple triangle) was lit up brightly in the lobby of the building, which made it easy to spot for those looking from the street (great marketing – I immediately recognized it). When we walked in, we were greeted by strange imagery projected on a wall, paired with ethereal music. Interesting vibe – not quite scary – but mysterious enough to be wary about your soon-to-be experience. We were greeted by the two team members wearing strange, Middle Eastern-style attire, and were given our waivers to read and sign. “You will be touched.” Yep.

ALONE_2013_6510The moment arrived, and a crew member called my name. She reminded me about the safe word; it was “together”. I have to admit, this moment was fairly terrifying, and I rarely get scared about anything. This was a completely new experience for me, and I was actually nervous!

A door opened for me, and I pulled back the curtain. It was pitch black beyond the threshold. I stood there for quite a while until I heard footsteps coming up the cement stairs toward me. It felt like a lifetime as I stood there, and I imagine this was a pulsing tactic for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. At this point, my eyes started playing tricks on me due to the total darkness. Finally, a man came into sight and asked in a calm voice:

“What is the safe word?”

“Say it twice.”

“Together… together.”

He then said to go downstairs. As I felt my way through the darkness, I finally reached the banister of the stairway, and continued to walk down the steps, slowly. The man followed me down – most likely to make sure I didn’t stumble on the way down. I finally reached a landing and walked slowly, fully anticipating someone to grab me and drag me somewhere. I took a look around – the building itself was worn down and very industrial, with dusty concrete floors and walls. It definitely had the “serial killer hideaway” setting correct.

ALONE_2013_6548While the whole of the experience is quite fuzzy to me because I was so focused and in the moment, I do remember key points. My first “human” encounter was with a quiet, young-looking man, wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears. I was anticipating an aggressive encounter, but the experience was actually quite calm. He proceeded to place headphones over my ears, and to my surprise, there was soft music playing. In my opinion, this added to the experience, because at the same time, he was applying tribal markings with colored paint to my face. It was surreal, and felt like an initiation of sorts before the experience became more intense. He then continued to disorient me in the darkness by using a flashlight, appearing in different corners of the room.

In another room, I was placed in complete darkness and told not to move. I stood there.

And stood there.

There was loud, pulsing music (we were told later it was mostly a custom soundtrack), and I was swallowed by the darkness for what felt like 10 minutes. Because it felt like an eternity, I started to look around, hoping to see or hear anything. As I became more anxious and impatient, the music became more intense, and much louder. Suddenly, there were three hooded figures standing directly in front of me. Now that was cool! I was completely caught off guard, and did not expect to see anyone else in that room with me.

Alone was an interesting experience, featuring aggressive contact, pure disorientation in the darkness, and strange encounters with actors. In one area, I was told to pick my favorite musical record from the floor, and once I did, a woman snatched it away from me and threw it. She then proceeded to slow dance with me, and gradually became more and more aggressive. Abruptly, she threw me to the wall and left me there. I was confused, and rather shocked, but intrigued by the bizarre experience I’d just had.

ALONE_2013_6516I couldn’t help but think, “What the hell is going on?” the whole time as I did these things. I was forced to crawl on the floor, and was watched while doing do. A woman placed a damp towel over my head, and I prayed that it was clean! I ended up lying on a mattress with an older gentleman, as he whispered bedtime stories, and then forced me to crawl under the bed to find something he needed. When I stood, I was in the darkness, alone. Someone whispered my name. I was cursed at. I was pushed. I was carried, and then told to run while the actor had his arms around me.

I never thought it’d be writing about an attraction that required this type of strange interaction!

Alone was something completely new, and pushed my comfort level slightly further than I’m used to. But for something that was so new to me, I’m surprised it didn’t frighten me as much as I thought it would. There were times when I felt awkward, unsure of what to do next; not because I was scared, but because I was confused. An actor would tell me to step here… then there… over there, ultimately, with no payoff. The actors were fantastic, and I respect the amount of effort from the crew. In retrospect, I feel badly for not giving the reaction they expected; this is often the case when we visit haunts, because we simply see them differently as other guests.

I also felt Alone had guest pulsing problems throughout the space. At times, I heard other individuals in other rooms, which completely derailed the concept of being “alone”. Twice, I was placed in a very dark and confined space for way too long – I am assuming it was a break so I wouldn’t run into another guest in the next scene.

Alone: An Existential Haunting was an interesting experience, and I recommend it to those searching for more than a standard or typical Halloween attraction. It was uncomfortable, bizarre, and right for those looking for something intense and “extreme” (though that definition varies from person to person, event to event).

ALONE_2013_6532I would have enjoyed Alone more if they had incorporated a story. I’d perhaps have felt more personally invested in the experience. Theme Park Adventure chatted with the creators of Alone, and they explained the attraction as a “sensory experience”, and admitted there was no story. Though I understand their intention, I feel there should be something to make guests understand what is going on. I respect and get the direction they are going, and I know that many fans enjoyed what Alone delivered. When it comes to interactive experiences like this, I prefer ones with a story and perhaps something with supernatural elements – something that defines a “haunted” attraction. I want something with ghosts, cults, and no gore – stuff that I get scared by. Nonetheless, the crew did an incredible job for its first year, and we respect the amount of hard work that was put into this unique experience. I am sure it wasn’t easy to put together an attraction like this, and we look forward to seeing Alone’s new adventure in 2014!

Did you experience Alone this year? What are your thoughts? Perhaps you did Blackout and Alone; can you compare the two? TPAers, sound off below and keep the discussion going among fellow fans!

– Johanna Atilano

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4 Responses to REVIEW: Alone: An Existential Haunting 2013

  1. Abel Horwitz says:

    Hi Rick,

    Cool to read your review.

    Something that happened to me that you didn’t mention (and I’ve heard it didn’t happen to every guest) was that at one point they started talking about very personal things in my life. My hometown, my high school. They threw down my Facebook profile picture in front of me, and told me they know exactly who I was.

    I found this very effective. The friends that I went with didn’t get the same personalized treatment, but they did see my photo on the ground, which scared them silly.

    It was a nice touch, and I was wondering how long it would take for a haunt to start Googling their guests for personal information….

  2. Rick West Rick West says:

    I’ll get Johanna to address that, as she is the one that experienced Alone. Look for a response in the next 24 hours or so!

  3. Abel Horwitz says:

    Oh Jeeze,

    Shoullda read the by-line…

  4. Hi Abel! I’m glad you enjoyed that aspect of the haunt.

    I actually heard about that before I experienced Alone, and unfortunately I wasn’t one of the lucky chosen ones. I did see the photos on the floor and walls, but if I didn’t know they were actual guests, I would’ve figured they were random FB profiles. I feel that if they go that route, they should their best for EVERY guest to experience that. They knew we were coming too, so they had plenty of time to research us!

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