House of Horror 2014 ran seamlessly from start to finish. Approaching the designated pick up spot, a double decker bus was already parked, loading a motley crew of various sexy kittens, axe murderers, pregnant nuns and zombie inmates. Driving off, another soon took its place and the remaining queue of guests who had spent that extra fifteen minutes fixing their costumes were on their way to the mysterious-sounding location, Kinkell Byre. The journey was swift, only taking about ten minutes; overall, the transport was managed flawlessly.
The walk from the bus to the door however proved perilous for those who had taken a risk and sported their most killer heels, and the situation worsened when out of the mist ran a gang of frenzied murderers bearing what I hope were fake chainsaws complete with terrifyingly realistic sound effects. Their job was solely to terrorise the new batch of attendees, targeting some of the more vulnerable or sober-looking ones. If you managed to survive that, you were ushered into an ominous tunnel-like hallway, with thick smoke in the air and cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. The dull beat of the music could be heard and it got louder as we approached the doorway, creating an air of suspense; looking around everyone was loving it.
Abruptly the claustrophobic space ended, and on passing through a doorway the guests spilled out into a huge, open hall, each of us receiving a complementary syringe shot as we entered. I can’t exactly tell what it was, nor can I recall the taste enough to try and wager a guess now – being preoccupied with the stunning décor and all – but it was generously strong, and was refreshing to note that the committee obviously had not copped out on the smaller details. For those guests who then naturally ran off to the bathroom with their galpals or perhaps found the syringe shot all too much, the system again proved beautifully-organised. Ushers were on duty to direct confused guests out of the dark room and along the well-lit corridor leading to the toilets. Unlike many events where the bathrooms are overly crowded with screaming girls and the sinks are barricaded by gals touching up on their make-up and hair, there was once more someone employed to check everyone was okay and maintain the steady flow of guests, which was extremely helpful.
After being directed by the friendly stewards back into the main venue, there was an opportunity to fully appreciate the decorations. From the high ceiling dangled black and white material that uncannily resembled the ghost out of Paranormal Activity and Harry Potter’s dementors. There were also branches protruding from the walls and ceiling which created an aura of ‘haunted forest’, and amidst this hung the odd candle, which cast a dusty glow into the lofty space above us. This was paired with electric lighting mainly consisting of green lasers, which danced around the walls and flashed across the faces of the guests, which was genius as it exaggerated the already scary selection of costumes walking around, making a skeleton’s cheekbones look even more hollow and occasionally bouncing off someone’s devilish red contact lenses.
The music was controlled by artists DJ Saunit and Kalliope, who I’m happy to report avoided the usual Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper numbers and stuck to good,bass-y rap. However, until about midnight the dance floor was disappointingly empty which made dancing a little awkward for the less intoxicated. Even as the night progressed the hall remained about 50 per cent unoccupied, and while more people did migrate into the room, perhaps something to fill the empty space in such a large hall would have made the main dancing area seem less bare, such as a Photo Booth or even just dishes of sweets… alternatively more guests would work too!
However, the bar arguably made up for this. Unlike events such as Starfields and the Vic on a busy night, the time between approaching the bar and leaving with a drink was satisfyingly short. The bar staff were also wonderfully helpful, as I experienced when after ignoring the post in the Facebook event saying ‘Remember that the bar is CASH ONLY”, I obviously enquired whether I could pay by card. Instead of muttering something and demanding cash, the bartender was friendly and sympathetic. So good job bar staff! The prices were a little steep, however, with shots going for £2.50.
All in all it was a brilliant event, which was obviously well planned by a dedicated and innovative team, with the main negative being the relatively small number of guests that attended. Perhaps next year, more tickets could be sold for a longer period of time, generating more hype for this stellar night. Numbers aside, everyone I spoke to really enjoyed themselves, with the fun made even more enjoyable by the fact that all proceeds went to Elephant Family, a UK-based NGO committed to protecting Asian elephants from smuggling and poachers and preserving their habitat. Overall, a frightful night in all the right ways.
Photos courtesy of Victoria Bushnell, Hannah Jeffrey and Samantha Marcus.