Throughout Southern California, there are many events to choose from during the months of September and October. There’s the Granddaddy of all haunted event, Knott’s Scary Farm, in Buena Park. If you want to enter a living horror movie, you have Halloween Horror Nights; and many more. But what if I told you that most halloween events in SoCal don’t do what Delusion does. What is Delusion you might ask. Delusion is an interactive “moving play” experience where guests are invited to walk through the venue as a haunting narrative unfolds. Guests play a part in a fully realized, live, and otherworldly adventure. Imagine you’re at your local theater watching a play. But then one of the actors addresses you directly and pulls you up on stage. But in Delusion, there is no stage, only the fully realized location that sets the tone for the story that is about to unfold. Completely immersing guests into a living nightmare. Sounds intriguing right?
This year, Jon Braver (Creator/Writer/Director/Stunt Coordinator) and the team at Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group have put together a story that transports guests back to the groovy 70’s. A sequel to last years Reaper’s Remorse (but don’t worry if you didn’t experience that years event, you’ll understand this years just fine), Valley of Hollows has guests play the role of “deprogrammers” (those meant to help rescue people from the influence of cults) infiltrating a cult known as The Hollows. An ex cult member has left you an odd message. Her little brother is missing. She fears he’s been swept into the cult. During her search, she claims to have witnessed a groundskeeper transporting bodies from a local cemetery back to the Phillips Estate (the fictionalized version of the very location the event is located).
YOUR EXPERIENCE BEGINS
As soon as you approach the old Phillips Mansion, the story begins. Across the fence in front of the mansion is covered with missing persons signs, an ominous sign of things to come. Then you come face to face with the mansion itself. Almost a character on its own, looming in the background of your experience the entire night. The windows almost acting like eyes, watching you as you enjoy a drink and some food before your adventure.
Speaking of which, there is a myriad of food and drink options to partake in before or after your adventure. It’s often quite nice to sit down with a drink and discuss the details of the show. Quietly of course, as to not spoil it for anyone.
If you venture into the Phillips Mansion, you’ll find that you’ve been transported to the 70’s. A vibe and tone that is very much echoing what you’d expect from a cult in the 1970’s. I could have stayed inside that house with a drink for hours. You can walk around the downstairs portion of the house with some fun visuals as well. But a little less that is tied into the story than last year.
If you purchased the VIP Experience you could go upstairs and have access to your own private bar, the KOOL-AID VIP BAR, with speciality themed cocktails. We got the Esther’s Brew and it was actually very tasty and we loved how it had dry ice in it to make it bubble and smoke.
Of course, the music is everything that you love from the 70’s, expanding that vibe that they have downstairs. In the bar there is also a magician to keep your occupied while you wait for your show. Honestly, close up magic is so much fun. Even if we’ve seen the card tricks before it’s still fun. But this magician did some fun card tricks that had us scratching our heads in confusion. It was fantastic!
Across from the bar, you’ll find HELL’S HOLLOW!
Through the use of psychedelics, and the misuse of magic, an eccentric Hollows cultist has opened a strange fissure in the wall. Beyond the opening lies a dark and terrifying personal journey through sound and touch alone. Only through the harrowing dark, will you truly see.
This unique pitch black experiences has you crawl through absolute darkness only using your hands to find a way out. Honestly, it was terrifying. I let out a couple good F bombs because I got scared pretty damn good.
VALLEY OF HOLLOWS
If you don’t want to be spoiled in terms of the experience, have no fear. This is a general review and we will do a full spoiler review on the Theme Park Duo Podcast.
Generally speaking, Delusion in 2022 is another return to horror that we absolutely love. We’ve honestly haven’t found another experience like Delusion where story is masterfully woven within a very physical and sometimes emotional experience. As with many years, our jaws were on the floor with the quality of special effects and stunts. These types of moments really help you buy into the supernatural aspect of the stories we were experiencing. Honestly, most of these stunts gave us a jolt of adrenaline. Especially when you’re completely involved in the story. Oh and trust us when we say there are plenty of scary moments in this years event. One in particular had me subconsciously holding my breath. But a bigger part of that is how well executed many of these moments were by the stellar cast of players. Each actor we encountered were incredible and believable.
In terms of this years narrative, it isn’t as strong as in years past. I felt as though last years experience was incredibly cohesive in terms of how it tied its pre-show elements to the main story. This years pre-show experience, while setting the perfect tone, doesn’t tie as well to the overall experience. Even with characters roaming around the rooms.
Additionally, this years overall story isn’t as strong narratively. That’s not to say the story isn’t interesting or compelling, it’s just the way in which the story unfolds in the last act that caused a bit of confusion. I found that by the time I started to wrap my head around the moment we were running into the next room and never had a moment to full comprehend everything. This lead into a very rushed climactic ending that was suppose to be emotionally impactful but just landed flat for us. It just felt rather anticlimactic and somewhat disappointing considering that every prior year had fantastic endings. I think the “rushed” feeling could be worked out with some pacing adjustments to allow dialogue to really hit home for guests. Allowing that emotional moments strike before making them run for their lives. While it may sound like we are being overly critical of this years show, we actually hold Delusion in very high regard. They’ve set a very high standard for themselves in how compelling their stories are capable of being.
Overall, even with a disappointing ending, Valley of Hollows was such a fun show. It’s an intense and scary experience that has all the elements that we’ve come to know and love from Delusion shows. It’s the only haunted event we visit that welcomes us to fully immerse ourselves within the story and to do so means opening yourself up to some incredibly scary moments. The uniqueness and high quality of Delusion is what keeps us coming back year after year. Don’t miss out, it’s never too late to experience your first Delusion show.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AROUND DELUSION AND HOW TO GET TICKETS, VISIT ENTERDELUSION.COM