First time going through a haunted house? No problem… right?
I pulled up to Carnage Haunted House a little after 7 p.m. on a cool and rainy Saturday night. It’s just a warehouse in western Columbus off I-70, but it wasn’t the outside of the building that had me freaked out. It was the unknown on the inside.
I could only really tell I was in the right place by the sight of some of the ghastly and ghoulish cast and crew members as well as the owners waiting outside the building for me. This is where I met Mike, an owner of Carnage Haunted House. He, a few crew members, and I gathered around a picnic table under a little covering outside of a garage that serves as their merchandise room while we’ were waiting for our photographer to get there.
“It’s a second year haunt that feels like a sixth year haunt. That’s what we’ve been told,” Mike said about recently opening the haunted house.
As I was telling him that I had never been to a haunted house before and was a little anxious, a few members of the cast in full costume and character wandered out to the garage to confirm my anxieties. They crept up, scared the hell out of me, and thus my night at Carnage Haunted House began.
They stayed in character while Mike gave me the rundown of where people will enter the haunted house, where the live music will be, where the food trucks and vendors will be, and where the scary movies will be playing outside the building. He says there will be a giant 30-foot sign out by the road when they’re officially open to let people know they’re in the right (or, wrong if you are deathly afraid of haunted houses) place. The setup is pretty impressive—Mike explained to me that each room in the haunted house is themed after a famous horror movie. I noted to stay on the lookout for anything that might signal what movie was being referenced in each room, but you know, staying in a constant state of
fear makes being perceptive in the dark a little difficult.
As I said earlier, I have never been to a haunted house before. I don’t scare easily during scary movies, but unlike horror movies which are loaded with movie trailers giving glimpses of what you’re about to witness, I had no clue what I was walking in to here. Our group, which consisted of me, our photographer, a new hire by the haunted house, and a friend of the owners, is seated in a
wooden swamp-cabin type room where a Voodoo witch doctor leads us through a protective spell before ushering us into a haunted swamp and cutting us lose to go through the haunted house. Was it too late to turn around? Yup, it was.
For the next 20 minutes, we made our way through the various haunted rooms. We walked through a haunted swamp. Then we toured a hospital and a nursing home. The trip included stops at a barbershop, a butcher’s shop, and a kitchen. We quickly made our way through the torture chamber, for obvious reasons. There’s even a trick passage that leads to a dead end, but I won’t ruin that surprise for you. You’ll have to make the same mistake I did. And if your head wasn’t spinning enough, there was a mannequin room, vertigo bridge, several other rooms, and dozens of haunted passages between rooms. And I loved every second of it.
There were plenty of jump scares that got me when I was least expecting them, but I think the strengths of this haunted house are its set design and its actors and actresses. The sets are extremely well set up. The amount of details is overwhelming, especially because there are actors and actresses in each room that are committed to scaring you and consistently giving great performances.
The best way to get the most out of this haunted house is to be willing to engage with the actors and actresses: they’re in character, they’re creepy as hell, and they really want to scare you. I was at the front of our group, but the entire time I walked through I was followed by the sounds of other people in my group screaming and jumping. It was kind of like riding in the front seat of a roller coaster where I would experience the adrenaline rush early then listen for everyone else to feel the rush
I went into this haunted house a bit reluctant and nervous due to the unknown, but it turns out the unknown only makes Halloween that much better.
Carnage Haunted House is located on 1160 Alum Creek Dr. Tickets can be purchased at carnagehauntedhouse.com where general admission tickets cost $20 +tax and VIP speedy passes cost $27 +tax.
Feature photo by Ethan Clewell.