“The Nest,” a haunted house in Chandler, Ariz., is an enjoyable visual experience showcasing grisly props, a splendid cast and fun illusions. The attraction has received yearly awards as being one of the best haunted houses in the country, and a few people in the media tour were definitely screaming. As for me, although I may not have been one of the frightened ones, a few parts of the experience were impressive and definitely stood out.
The most intense part of the three-scenario experience was also the first. After standing in line and watching a man pulling a plastic balloon through his nose and into his mouth, I entered a pitch-black maze. No one in the media viewing group, six women and three men including myself, wanted to take the front position, so eventually I volunteered. Upon shuffling one-by-one into the narrow, pitch-black corridor, I became disoriented for the first couple of minutes but soon found my way through the maze.
After about four minutes of slowly groping against black walls in the darkness, acutely aware of the breathing made by actors lurking around “unsuspecting” corners, I stumbled through a sensor that triggered an earsplitting foghorn, the type used on cargo ships, to erupt overheard. The sheer suddenness of deafening sound, which is prolonged until my group passed the sensor, was ridiculously startling, and I ducked to cover my ears in response.
Two other areas of the haunted house were pretty cool, and the rooms were fun. One was a mirror house that lead into a chamber filled with taunting killer clowns. The staff gave us 3D glasses prior to entering this area, but I’m physically unable to see 3D-rendered objects, so I can’t comment on its effectiveness; however, I was told it worked fairly well. Furthermore, this section offered The Nest’s two greatest optical illusions.
Upon entering a blackened corridor with a physically shifting floor, a green light appeared and created a funnel effect allowing the approaching actor to appear as a floating dismembered head. It was an impressive effect. The second illusion, and my favorite part of the haunted house, occurred when we crossed a rickety tunnel bridge that two blood-soaked clowns were calling home. Crossing a bridge is easy enough, even with homicidal clowns on it, but when the room literally seemed to be spinning, the task was much, much more challenging. Revolving colored lights bounced off the tunnel walls and took up all of my peripheral vision making it seem as if the room was spinning, and I was walking on the bridge sideways, forcing me to clutch a shaky handrail for balance. Adding to the vertigo was the claustrophobic feel of the clowns taking up space on this seemingly gravity-defying bridge. The illusion was magnificently executed.
After this, we approached the graveyard, where the Facebook integration began. Electronic tombstones displayed my name, date of birth and date of death. It was a neat addition, but didn’t add any eeriness. The graveyard did have an awesome animatronic, elephant-sized skeleton, though.
Then we reached the final attraction, which was to be scariest part of The Nest: the home of Jacob Kell, a notorious Arizona serial killer. Nothing in Jacob Kell’s house frightened me, but it certainly encompassed incredible set design, a convincing cast of actors and amazing attention to detail.
In here was another dose of Facebook integration, where a newscast was announcing Jacob Kell’s latest victims. I was one of the unlucky three to be “murdered” earlier that evening. The final attraction is incredibly visceral, offering dismembered corpses, obscenely overweight cannibalistic butchers, people being tortured and others who warned me to flee while begging for help. The walls were plastered with digital photos taken from Facebook, and eviscerated bodies littered kitchen countertops.
Some very neat special effects were also used. My favorites in this section are overhead lights that projected cockroaches skittering along the floor, as well as human face pudding that is prominently featured as the kitchen’s main course. Some actors leapt out of corners, from underneath stairs and barrels; others simply stalked and taunted me. A few backed one woman into a corner, calling out her name and announcing all the unique ways they’d kill and cook her.
The entire, three-exhibit experience took about 20 minutes, and is certainly enjoyable; however, the scariness is underwhelming. Nevertheless, The Nest featured a great cast of enthusiastic actors, unique Facebook integration and dozens of absolutely enthralling props within Jacob Kell’s house.
The Nest opened Friday, Sept. 28, and runs through Halloween night.
For more information about The Nest, visit frightened.com.
If You Go: The Nest
5700 W. North Loop Rd.,
Chandler, AZ 85226
Tickets: $25 general admission; $40 VIP ($29 online)