Omen

Horror escape gets spooky for Halloween

The Saunders family have experienced a series of disturbing events.

The Saunders family have experienced a series of disturbing events. After Elsa, their youngest daughter, showed signs of possession, her mother brought in a paranormal investigator, but he soon left the property feeling the demonic force was too strong to be working with.

So a new team of six investigators (including myself) was sent into the Saunders’ farmhouse, even though I was afraid of the dark for a week after watching only half of the movie, The Exorcist.

But I was up for the challenge of helping the Saunders find out what demon has possessed their little girl — a task that’s necessary in order to “escape” from her creepy room in the 45 minutes given to search for clues and solve puzzles at Horror Escape in downtown Victoria.

Since my heart rate increases every time I even see the word “horror,” I questioned what I had gotten myself into the moment I stepped inside the first small dimly-lit room lined with a blood splattered wall with a few holes, three crosses with numbers, the head of a goat and creepy music wafting through the air.

But that uneasy feeling quickly diminished once my team of investigators went to work, combing the walls for clues and trying to make sense of the numbers in order to unlock the door and get into the next room.

With a few extra clues from a staff member who would pop into the room whenever we were stumped, eventually we made our way into Elsa’s room, which truly felt like something horrific had happened thanks to all the little details incorporated into the elaborate set — created by Derek Lovell.

Lovell has always had a passion for creating immersive experiences and used to make haunted houses. But he wanted something that was more immersive and challenged guests to do some work, so he came up with the concept of a haunted house people had to escape from.

Lovell moved to Victoria from Toronto to put his passion into action with Horror Escape, but during construction, he decided to switch gears from the haunted house experience and create an escape room with a haunted theme.

“I love offering people entertainment, I love creating detailed sets and creating an experience that can rip people away from something out of the ordinary,” said Lovell, adding it took between three to six months to plan the elaborate scenarios for the three different rooms that are rotated every few months.

First he starts with a general concept, then thinks of how he can create an experience that will fit with a theme, also incorporating puzzles and technology that will work with a lock or door. Once that’s nailed down, he starts creating the branding, imagery, photos and graphics for the set, along with a soundtrack to set the mood.

Opening on Canada Day in 2015, Lovell makes sure Horror Escape offers something for everyone. The Crimson Manor room is more family oriented, but still has a creepy tone, he explained, while The Cellar contains gore, loud noises, and is created towards a horror theme. On scary nights, actors come in to give visitors a few startle scares.

“It’s really incredible to see your vision come to life,” said Lovell, adding most people have a little bit of fear about what they’ll encounter before they enter the rooms. “I always tell people there are some extra thrills, but our intention is for you to have fun overall so nothing is over the top. Whenever you scream, you’ll laugh.”

Getting out of the rooms isn’t exactly easy. The success rate of Crimson Manor is 33 per cent, the Cellar is 29 per cent and Omen (which I was in) is only 16 per cent.

Determined to make it into that 16 per cent, my team of investigators was well aware the clock was winding down as we wracked our brains, trying to make sense of the string of colourful numbers painted on a wall and the cards containing names of several demons.

Sadly, we ran out of time, leaving all of us musing about where we could have done better. In the meantime, Elsa’s family will continue to wait for answers about who took the spirit of their little girl.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

International Bat Week runs from Oct. 24 to 31. (Photo: Cory Olson)
Time to get batty for International Bat Week

International Bat Week runs from Oct. 24 to 31

Black Press Media took to the streets of Colwood to find houses decorated for Halloween. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Check out these Colwood homes ready for Halloween

Halloween takes place on Saturday, Oct. 31

HarbourCats players celebrate winning the North Division Championship Series in 2019. (Christian J. Stewart/File Photo)
Victoria HarbourCats locked out of team Facebook page

Management hires legal team to solve issue

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read