Universal Studios Hollywood kicked off its 2015 Halloween Horror Nights extravaganza on Friday, Sept. 18, and the solid lineup of movie- and TV-inspired horror mazes did not disappoint. Even the weakest of the seven experiences were a lot of fun, and there was a nice mix of tonally lighter mazes with some that were unforgiving about the scares they laid on attendees.
From a recreation of The Walking Dead Season 5 to The Purge taking over the Studio Tour, there were plenty of opportunities for people to walk away terrified. I hit the opening night of HHN in Hollywood to figure out which were the best mazes for horror fans, and which were the surprising misses.
While not all mazes have to be based on a previously established horror project to be great, Crimson Peak was at a disadvantage because it seemed to rely on knowledge of a movie that hasn't been released yet. There were some creepy moments in the maze, but the Guillermo Del Toro-endorsed experience was surprisingly lacking in any major scares. Maybe the issue was that Universal Hollywood was trying to protect attendees from spoilers for the movie which comes out on October 16th, but it did feel like a lot of the maze's big moments would have landed a lot better had anyone had any perspective when experiencing them.
While Insidious is a horror franchise with plenty of great scary moments to mine from, they didn't translate as strongly to the Hollywood maze. The scares weren't as intense as some of the other mazes, though there was a great section where actors disguised themselves as mannequins to pop out unsuspectedly. Part of the issue could have been personal; our group was stuck behind a slow-moving party that caused us to linger too long in each room. But when compared to the other experiences Hollywood's HHN produced, it felt like there was room for improvement with Insidious.
Halloween Horror Nights went 3D with a horror-comedy in 2015 with the maze for This Is The End. While the experience was light on scares - the Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel flick is meant to be funny, after all - it was a lot of fun. The 3D definitely enhanced the experience, with the paint on the walls and scareactors causing the maze to pop in a trippy, unique way. The 3D effect is a cool concept Universal theme parks have used before and should continue to implement, but it might be better served on a maze that more heavily featured scary moments. Also, huge missed opportunity for not including a Backstreet Boys finale!
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