Ah, October. There is a crispness in the air, the leaves on the trees burn with reds and oranges, and the cloying aroma of chainsaw exhaust hangs in the breeze.
All of it just screams “Halloween”.
Yes, it’s haunted house season: that glorious time when we can enjoy bloody and fantastical horrors before having to return to the horrors of the real world. This year, I’m going to review all the houses I hit this season. As somewhat of an admitted “horror snob,” I will try to keep the perspective of both the dyed-in-blood genre fan and your more average attraction goer (without spoiling it).
First up – the Boneyard
Located appropriately in a portion of the old (and mostly dead) Six Flags Mall, the Boneyard isn’t what I’d call a haunted house proper – not for the fact that it isn’t in a house but for the fact that the layout would more accurately described as maze. This accounts for Boneyard’s impressive 45-minute walkthrough time. The attraction starts out with pitch-black corridors. Get used to them because you’ll be seeing – or rather not seeing – plenty of them. A good portion of the path is just you walking through the darkness. While I can see the value of creating apprehension and anticipation in this darkness, after a while it no longer created dread for me and the EvilWickedOverlordGirl – it was more just a source of annoyance. The darkness wasn’t just limited to the hallways either. Many of the set pieces were, I felt, similarly under-lit. For me, half the fun of a haunted attraction is the feeling of immersion and seeing the lengths the creators go to in the details to scare and disturb. Here, though, I felt a lot of that detail was lost. I’m not saying that the light needs to burn your eyes out, but at least make it bright enough to give a little love to your set design. My only other nitpick – and another reason why this is more a maze – is that there were a couple of places in the journey where we couldn’t find our way out of a room. While ideally this can increase tensions, the effect I noticed it having was that it backed up the groups who had been released at intervals in an attempt to prevent them from bunching up. In a few rooms, we found ourselves clustered with at least two other groups with all of us groping around to find the exit and calling out directions to each other. To me, this is a fatal flaw. As the saying goes, there is safety in numbers and if you feel safe in a haunted attraction, then it has failed.
Now while you are reading this, please remember that I am a hardened horror fan who can walk through most any attraction and appreciate it without nary an increase in my pulse. For the average attendee, the Boneyard is more than adequate. The builders have snuck some very sneaky little touches that will provide some substantial shocks to the unwary. Visually, they created a few eye-bending areas that will put your perception to the test. The set pieces were all pretty standard and the actors ranged from average to terribly clever in spots. For those of you worried about such things, I remember them getting occasionally very close, but not touching.
As The Boneyard is such a long attraction, there was a fairly long wait in a short line. Fortunately, there are food (hot dogs, pretzels and such) and beverages (beer and cocktails in the VooDoo Lounge) barely a stone’s throw away from you so the wait is not too terrible. And if you’re still in the mood for other activities before or after, you have the aforementioned food and adult beverages there in addition to a small collection of arcade games, a psychic reader, a DJ playing music, and the ghost hunters from Fort Worth Paranormal conducting investigations on site.
The Boneyard, while probably not up to the standards of a demanding fan, it is a good choice for an adventurous Halloween date night. The Boneyard is located at 2921 E. Division St. in Arlington. For more information, visit their website at http://www.theboneyard.org/ or follow them on Twitter at @Boneyard.