Imagine entering a haunted house Halloween experience, only to find that instead of merely watching the events unfold, you have become part of the story. The choices you make move the plot forward, and the terrible frights you experience depend in part upon what you choose to do. This is “Delusion: Blood Rite,” the LA-based interactive haunted house experience.
“Delusion: Blood Rite” is the brainchild of stunt man and producer Jon Braver, co-produced by the legendary Neil Patrick Harris. “Last year, which was the first year that the show ran, Neil really allowed himself to experience the show and embraced it, then came back with ideas. That was the initial spark of the collaboration,” explained performing artist Lora Ivanova. The experience will run from Sept. 27 to Nov. 10, a longer run that last year’s eleven days.
Conceived as an alternative to “factory mill” haunted houses where people are funneled through by the thousands, “Delusion: Blood Rite” tells the story of a doctor in 1910 whose work with his psychiatric patients was so cutting-edge that he unlocked their psychic potential. It is now 1918, and while the good doctor has been laid to rest by colleagues who felt that his work was too unspeakable to be allowed to continue, his daughter has summoned his former patients to the mansion to help her raise her father from the dead. To ensure that there are enough people trained properly to take on the role of the daughter, it was quadruple-cast with Dasha Kittredge, Laura Diamond, Mara Klein and Murielle Zucker.
“It’s story-driven, not just a showcase,” explained “Delusion” creator Jon Braver. “People have to participate to make the story move along.” When asked how he came to the idea, Jon cited such diverse influences as the video games “Zork” and “King’s Quest,” role-playing games and his twelve years working in film. “I gained an understanding of an audience’s point of view, and tried to create an experience that would include them that way, without a fourth wall.”
At various times during the experience the audience is asked to participate, and at one point someone must volunteer to go down a hallway alone to meet whatever terrors await. “Something horrible happens to that audience member – they experience a whole scene by themselves,” Jon enthused. The experiences had by both the lone volunteer and the others left behind each contain a part of the over-arching story which is not all truly known to the participants until they confer with each other after the show.
The stunt expertise of Jon Braver and his colleagues in the business creates the illusion of some really dangerous and scary happenings, while the illusory skills of stage magician/actor Neil Patrick Harris lend an extra quality of theater, for a truly immersive experience. Sometimes, the scares are so intense that a person cannot handle it. “One person had a nervous breakdown and had to be escorted out. They couldn’t take it any more.” Needless to say, people sign a waiver before going in. Performance artist Lora Ivanova went so far as to recommend that people bring a diaper. Yikes!
Certain nights offer patrons the opportunity to contribute to various charities. For example, Oct. 4 was LGBT Night, and a portion of the proceeds from admissions went to benefit the gay community. Neil Patrick Harris talked more about the show in general on the Craig Ferguson Show.
There are few experiences that are anything like “Delusion,” the most notable being NYC-based “Sleep No More.” In fact, Los Angeles seems to be experiencing something of a horror renaissance, with less commercial and more intimate horror experiences being explored. Perhaps “Delusion” will be a catalyst for more great things to come.