A haunted house touted as featuring “$250,000 of props and special effects” has got to be somewhat impressive, right? This is the inevitable question that most visitors would be asking themselves, right? Based on the appearance of most people there, I would say they would more likely be asking when they might be eating next or how they will be getting to the mall on Saturday. But this is not a review of fat people or annoying teenagers – it is a review of the sights (and curious smells) of the biggest haunted house in Phoenix, The Nest.
My thoughts on haunted houses are largely this – they are pretty dumb. Walking through a hastily constructed maze filled with rubber gargoyles and overly-enthusiastic actor-zombies is not scary. The soundtrack pumped in of screams and lightning are usually more grating than frightening. Luckily, only one-third of The Nest follows this formula. It does try to add an extra dimension with a plot revealed on the website involving a retarded serial killer who has a brother named Otis – “Evil finds a new home” it tells us (Evil now lives just off the interstate south of Ahwatukee). Sadly, this story is not even referenced at the actual place as far as I could tell, leaving me to wonder if the web developers had any contact with the haunted house developers.
The first parts of the The Nest fare much better. After walking in through the main area of Rawhide, the faux wild west town where it is located, visitors walk into a large warehouse, where by the smell of it, usually contains the horses (and perhaps a colony of wet dogs). 3D glasses are given out for the first portion. Creepy clown walls and a sick-inducing bridge are the highlights. It is a definite treat for the eyes, but not very menacing.
The second part tries to correct this with a maze darkened to the point of blindness. People have to use only their sense of touch to make their way through (or their cell phones if they hate Halloween and want to ruin everyone’s fun). This would be a great area to hold hands with a first date and test your hand-holding compatibility. By hands, of course, I mean private parts. Just be sure to act confused and apologetic when he or she screams. While this area is a kick, it doesn’t even come close to fulfilling its potential. None of the walls are slimy, there is only one brief space where you have to contort to squeeze through, and no one jumps out at you. That would actually be effective here, unlike the final area, where the superfluity of idiots trying to startle you becomes tedious quickly.
I have only been to three haunted houses in the past ten years, and this was, by far, the best, even though I did not see anyone wet themselves (my thoughts on the implications of wetting yourself during Halloween can be found here). The key, I think, is to keep your expectations low and accept that the scariest thing will be… the ticket prices!