By: Kayla Caldwell
Entering DELUSION is like winning a walk-on role in a horror movie (or at least, I would imagine). In this case, our movie follows protagonist Esther Phillips, as she hosts an extravagant bash at the Phillips Mansion. As one of her valued guests (VIP), you get to enter an extra series of rooms to learn even more about Esther’s collection. I’ll try to keep the spoilers light, so let’s just say it involves crawling on your hands and knees, and more than a few surprises. There is also an additional bar, and another thematic room hang out in.
While waiting for your time slot, all guests can explore first floor rooms, as well as a jarringly creepy cellar, and an outdoor snack bar. Once Esther summons you, you must leave drinks and phones behind (unless you turn them off). [Note - there is a purse/coat check.] Esther’s camera shy. She is also a bit sneaky and assuredly ruthless, so be weary of her. If you could see what’s in her cellar, you would understand why.
After her grand entrance, and a short chat, Esther sent us off with one of her employees to continue the tour of her collection. Here is where I will warn you that actors may touch you. They might ask you to do things - and they will separate people from the group. [There is a special wristband you can wear if you want to go through the experience, but prefer the actors not single you out.]
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We were given a warning early on not to look the dolls in their eyes. It seems odd out of context, but I’ll assure you it’s good advice. That is - unless you really want to be creeped out. Then, by all means, watch the dolls very closely. I was made to interact quite a bit with a dummy that reminded me of Slappy from Goosebumps, and he not only spoke to me, but referred to me by name. My 12-year-old self probably would have felt exhilarated, but I was pretty creeped out (albeit impressed).
We had to rescue our friend from a Crimson Peak-esque piano teacher, fight off the “tall woman,” and catch a handful of restless spirits. We had to hide, run, crawl, and walk through a room that looked like every good horror movie attic scene. There are a few stunts in particular, that were so genuinely surprising and cool, that I desperately want to discuss them here, but it would be a shame to spoil it for anyone.
The production on DELUSION is outstanding. The house is a bit out of the way for most, but is honestly worth the drive. It's just the perfect setting for this troubling story. It’s truly a spooky (yet beautiful), old house, and it can get a bit stuffy in there, so dress accordingly. There is also a bit of walking in some pretty deep gravel, so I would not recommend heels.
That out of the way, the acting and character development was so good, it adds dimension to the production. Everything comes together so you can suspend disbelief, and allow yourself to fall right into the narrative. My friends and I really were, for a brief moment, on a mission to capture spirits with an artifact (wielded by the brave Shannon McGrew of Nightmarish Conjurings).
Before our journey even began, we were privy to a thoroughly impressive magic show in the upstairs bar. I even got to keep my card as a souvenir. We spent what felt like ages talking to the man of the house, Louis Phillips, and listening to his troubling stories.
If you're looking for a different haunt experience, and respect amazing production design, then you should check out DELUSION. If you're already a fan of immersive haunts, then you will definitely enjoy DELUSION - REAPER'S REMORSE. To be honest, the new, "open world" concept was a bit disappointing, as it felt more like the cellar + one food stand. However, the rest of the event is still worth the cost of admission. If you've ever wondered how you would fare inside your favorite horror movie, DELUSION - REAPER'S REMORSE is a pretty cool shot at that dream.
The show, produced by Thirteenth Floor, is running through November 21. Tickets and more details can be found, here.