Conquering Screamfest

My family takes Halloween very seriously. While our house might not be as ridiculous as the Rip Road Halloween house used to be, we go as all in as we can with decorations. Since I have grown up with Halloween as one of the major events in the year, it may be surprising to know that I have avoided most of the truly scary parts of the holiday. I don’t watch horror movies, I didn’t listen to scary stories , and, until recently, I had never been to a haunted house. However, this year I decided that it was time to rectify this and finally see if being scared could be fun, and it was for this reason that my three sisters and I decided to undertake the journey to Screamfest at Canobie Lake Park. When we first arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard that it was pretty scary, but it was located in a small theme park in New Hampshire, so how bad could it be? That question was swiftly answered when a masked man with a running chainsaw ran out of what seemed like nowhere to (very successfully) scare us. During Screamfest, the scares are not just limited to the haunted houses, but also actors who run around the park, which means you never really feel safe when walking around.

Despite the monsters that seemed to lurk behind every corner, we pressed on to our first haunted house: the Canobie Lake Hotel. While waiting in line, my stomach was tying itself into knots and my brain seemed to be doing its best to talk me out of going into the house, but I had already paid for a ticket and I didn’t want to abandon my sisters, so I pressed on. Inside the hotel, things started out slowly, with creepy bellhops; however, it soon escalated with “Guests” lunging out of beds and popping out of every corner. Despite getting lost and needing one of the actors to point us in the right direction, we got through it and went on to more scares.

The next haunted attraction was pirate themed, and while it was certainly fun (with sections filled with fog so dense you couldn’t see a foot in front of you being a particular highlight), it was less scary than the previous house. I would mostly attribute this to the fact that most people do not find pirates particularly scary.

With two houses conquered, we were feeling very confident heading into our third and final house, the Culling. We probably should not have been. While the first two were scary, this one took things to a whole new level. Instead of hiding around corners, the actors (dressed as cultists in black and white robes) blended into the environment, and revealed themselves whenever it would scare you the most. The most impressive parts of this house were sections where the only illumination was provided by lasers shining through fog, giving an incredible visual effect that made it look like you would be swallowed whole by the room, and provided just enough illumination to get scared by the cultists, but not enough to see where they were beforehand.

After the Culling we decided that we had had enough haunted houses for the night and decided to leave after a few more rides, but there were still two more: a haunted corn maze and a carnival themed house that we did not enter. I would strongly recommend anyone who is interested in Screamfest to go if they have the chance.

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