I don’t think it even took a full minute before we got our first scare in. It had just gotten dark, we drove up the car park of the Doncaster Fear Factory. Parked the car. Ignition off. Grabbed back for my coat. Scare actor against the window. Goddamnit. The mazes, set in an old farmhouse building, weren’t even open yet, but groups of girls were already running around screaming, away from one of the roaming actors. The scene was set.
We started off with The Dig. An ancient artifact had been unearthed under the very same house we were queuing up against. Upon the discovery of this strange artifact, weird things had begun happening. Hallucinations, members of the archeological team disappearing, bizarre sightings. It was now our job to descend under the house and to find out what exactly was going on. We met up with one of the archeological students, she was quite distressed, and asked us whether we had seen the professor, whether we had any idea what was going on. She soon erupted into rage, screaming at us about how we were responsible for an evil that had descended onto the place. Forced into a rotating elevator, we were lowered into the bowels of the house. It’s dark, really dark, and we have to crawl through a pitch black corridor to advance. In the dark, something begins to growl. As we advance, the growling turns to hysterical screaming, we try to hurry, to get away from the thing, on hands and knees, scurrying further, there is some vague light, but a silhouette blocks our way, and is coming towards us fast. Cornered. An amazingly terrifying beginning. The rest of the maze was equally impactful. The route remained dark and confusing, as we had to climb over obstructions and squeeze our way through narrow passages. Ultimately, we ended up in a heras fencing maze, strobes going off from all sides. And man, these actors were lively. Expertly making use of the strobes, they threw themselves violently against the fencing at the exact moment you didn’t see them coming, and I ran and shouted my way through the entire maze. Excellently done.
After the terrors in the subterranean part of the house were done with, surely exploring the house itself would be cake? History tells us the house had had a variety of uses in the past, from a tuberculosis hospital and an orphanage to an asylum. Apart from that, it had served as the setting of a previous Cracked event, which is debatably just as bad. It was evident many people had died here, and their restless souls were said to still haunt the place – causing the place to be called “The House That Drew Breath”. After the high impact scares from The Dig, the setting was more theatrical, but this in no way meant the experience was less terrifying. The very first actor kept us in a room, as he was eerily twitching, bursting out, making his way past every single one of our group. After we were allowed to continue, we walked through haunted hallways, asylum chambers, up until a room where a satanic ritual was being performed. Again, actors were beyond effective. Everything from their movements and the timing of their scares was so spot on, a lot of the bigger events can take notes from Doncaster – we kept on jumping the entire way through. One particular foggy room had an actor creating a distraction scare, only for another to use the opportunity to its fullest advantage, a scare executed so perfectly, I swear I never heard my girlfriend scream this loud in a haunt. A very intense maze, all the way through, and we got out with huge grins on our faces.
We have to congratulate them – Doncaster Fear Factory might not be the attraction with the biggest budget, but they’ve clearly got what matters the most: a motivated team and some very, very good actors. Absolutely worth a visit, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.