Eww! Ahh! Ohh! and Oink! – The 17th Door Review
Get inside Paula’s head as she decides to return to Gluttire University for her Sophmore Year – The 17th Door Review
The mind is a scary place, even if you’re just a normal person. It goes infinitely inward, control over your thoughts is an illusion at best, and even the smallest things leave nest eggs that hatch and make you a social outcast. Imagine a mind that has been utterly broken by unspeakable acts, bullying, abuse, and alcohol, all by the age of 20. Now imagine walking through that mind, being engulfed by those traumas, and your senses lambasted with the sights, sounds, smells, touch, and if you’re unlucky, tastes of madness. That is what you agree to when you sign the waiver at The 17th Door.
Now I know that sounds horrible, but it is the Halloween season. It’s a time to embrace some of the darker areas of our mind, to put a little fright into our lives, and get a little scared. Pumpkin Spice goes on through Thanksgiving, Halloween and Horrors only have about 4 weeks left. If you’re into feeling fear, getting out of your comfort zone, and really have your sense jolted, The 17th Door is well worth your time.
The 17th Door is an interactive haunted house hidden in the broad daylight of The Market Place in Tustin. Normally epitome of Orange Country suburban shopping, it once again home to one of the scariest, most intense, and most interactive haunted houses around. Last Year 26,000 guests braved through The 17th Door haunt experience. This year, the haunt is larger and longer, featuring dozens of new rooms, including a mini escape room, and over 34 minutes of monsters, mayhem, and madness.
Personally, I’m not an avid fan of horror. I used to get nightmares from Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Luckily now I’m not so easily rattled, but I prefer not to add fear when I have rent, insurance, and student loans to really be scared of. However going through The 17th Door, might have sparked a new interest for me. I went in believing it was an escape room with a horror theme because all I got was a screenshot of the event via text. So I was excited for that, then I walked in and saw the warning signs. Followed by having to fill out the waiver… It felt weird agreeing to be made to feel discomfort at extreme levels. When a sign says “Triggers” in huge bold letters and also “Implied Child Abuse” some alarms do start sounding off. Why would anyone want to experience that? At the same time, this sense of excitement was building up. I really wanted to know what would warrant such a sign and waiver.
From the moment you walk in, the experience begins. The main lobby, also known as “Mercy Hall,” is dimly lit and designed like a spooky admissions building. Surprises lurk at every corner, never knowing when something will pop out. These things that pop include the thunderous cracks of an electric fence and roaming monsters who can pop out from just about anywhere. These monsters may even chase you down to add the extra bit of fear. The room also fills with fog that seeps into the outside like a ghost fading from existence. The environment is engulfing, almost entirely so, except for the music. The music seems to be on a personalized Spotify list. While in general the song choices were good and show a wide range of flavor, hearing Kanye West’s School Spirit doesn’t quite set the mood right for horror extravaganza.
Then you stand in line and enter the rooms. You begin in the psyche ward that Paula, the main character who’s life and mind you are essentially traversing through, was just released from. This is where some people feel their first shock. From there, you experience what seems to be Paula’s first traumatic experience, which involves a camera, a priest, and a paddle. The phobias and fears begin to be attacked in the following rooms. If you’re claustrophobic and gag at strong odors, you will not be pleased. As if that trauma was not enough, judgment and death follow in next rooms to round out Paula’s childhood.
You then get into the thick of things with Paula’s college experience. Underage drinking is never a good thing, but I mean there are okay and culturally normal ways for it, then there’s the wrong way. Paula does it the wrong way, as she rocks a brewsky with a baby bump. More phobias are attacked and your senses literally become overloaded to where you are unable to hear your own thoughts. Your claustrophobia is joyfully attacked again, and things really start to crawl on your skin.
The final section is more of a dark reflection of reality. You really get into Paula’s head and start seeing the world through her eyes. In these final sections, you see the outcome of her relationships and the trauma she has endured. Then it’s over. To commemorate making it through all of the doors, you take a group photo!
The 17th Door is a taxing experience. While much of the experience is exaggerated and a lot of the scares are jump scares, there is a real grounded aspect of reality that Paula’s life is very possible. That aspect gives the experience a realism that resonates with you throughout the experience. On top of the chilling concept, the production value is that of a Hollywood set, if not a step above. The walls aren’t just slapped together, they are fully enforced and very sturdy. I believe they are meant to withstand the impact of a giant man-child jumping a little too far back when the scary pig ghoul popped up from under the fog (100% not me). The costumes and makeup are done extremely well, but personally, I think are a little weird. Not that they didn’t scare me, but it just reminds me of the whole craze with unicorn masks and I don’t get it. What seals the deal are the performers, who commit 100%. I’ve seen crazy eyes before and every Paula throughout the experience knew how to throw the crazy eyes.
The 17th Door is a thrilling experience and a must for fear seekers. If you’re not a fear enthusiast, I think it is worth the experience as an interactive performance piece of a troubled and damaged mind. I would say the scare and fear is more along the lines of Silence of the Lambs than Halloween. The production value, the acting, the concept, is all expertly executed and combined to create a truly haunting experience. If you want to celebrate and experience the Halloween season, head over to The 17th Door.