I invited Andrew (pufferfish) to come along with me last night to the employee preview of HHN21 and while he has his report being the big horror buff, and me just being the theme park dork here is my look at last night.
I'll go in the order of the houses we went to.
Winters Night: The Haunting of Hawthorn Cemetary
Rating: 8.5 / 10
This place had amazing sets and I loved the freezing cold you get when you walk in, it definitely is one of the best houses this year, the only thing I didn't like about it was the first time through it was just average, but later in the night it became a lot better as the actors got into their groove of things. The sets were definitely amazing and I loved the attention to detail in it and I love the ending. (Also watching a woman fall over the 2nd time through because she was so scared knocking her friend behind her to the floor kind of made the night.)
Nightingales Blood Prey
Rating: 10/ 10
Definitely my favorite house of the night themed after WWI, you immediately walk in and are taken into the trenches of the war, with dead bodies above you and dead soldiers to the sides no matter which way you go nowhere in that house is safe. I loved the aerial effects they used in that house, the sound, and the set, the scare actors were really amazing in that house, the best house of the night for me. (*HUGESPOILER* Watching a Nightingale swoop down to take the torso off of a guy and have the "guts" spray all over you was amazing. */ENDHUGESPOILER*)
I know Andrew didn't like this house but I definitely did, I think they could've done a lot more with this, but I still think it was pretty awesome, I just don't find strobe light monsters to be scary at all it looks to slow motion for it to be scary. I like the set for this, and it being the employee preview they didn't have the aerial effect through the hallway on which was a bummer and was the one thing that I was looking forward to, I'll just go on a normal night and see it then. While it wasn't great, the sets were awesome, and just in general cool to look at.
H.R. Bloodengutz: Holidays of Horror
My least favorite house of the night, you could tell it was the "comedic" house but I find that rather pointless when I'm here for horror, granted it got a chuckle out of me at (spoiler) "Thankskilling Day," and "Ho-Ho-Homicide" (/endspoiler) but other than that it didn't impress me and I found myself walking through a few of the rooms just trying to figure out the holiday we were in.
Nevermore: The Madness of Poe
I'm a fan of Edgar Allen Poe and my one of my favorite things to read is The Raven so I was definitely looking forward to this one. I would have enjoyed it more had the people in line before us not been chain smoking the entire time we were there. Once we got into the house it definitely had some awesome sets and I loved the costumes and I loved the spinning mirror room I don't know how the actors do it, I'd get so sick. The Raven part of the house definitely lived up to what I wanted from it, but for some reason I just left the house going "it was good," I felt like it was lacking something but I can't put my finger on it.
Rating: 7.5 / 10
This was my first 3D maze I've done and I definitely loved the effects, and I made the terrible mistake of closing my eyes then reopening them on the spinning tunnel. I was pretty disorientated after that, and I loved how rave-ish this house was with all the neon colors everywhere, there are some decent scares in there but in general its just awesome to look at.
Rating: 9 / 10
One of the best houses of the night some amazing scares and even more amazing sets, we did get a stand still through the line which I understand why once you walk through it some people have a bit of trouble with it, but that I won't spoil because its the main room. The masks on the faces were pretty creepy alone and this house kept me on my toes a lot.
Saws n' Steam: Into The Machine
Rating: 9.5 / 10
This was my 2nd favorite house of the night behind Nightingales Blood Prey, I loved the effects in this house and it was definitely the best house they have had in the Jaws queue in a while. They have some awesome scenes in there and I the steam punk feel to it is awesome, just be prepared to get wet in that house, and if you wear contacts that will dry to water friendly bit of advice, don't stare directly at the waterfall. You'll see what I mean if you go.
Overall this was the best year I've been to HHN and I definitely enjoyed myself, great job Universal.