Sam is back again with yet another haunted house review! This time, Sam visited Asylum II haunted house in Antioch, IL.
This haunted house was completely out of nowhere. Annie and I had decided to go to our first corn maze/pumpkin patch in Spring Grove, IL. It’s touted as being the largest corn maze in the world, and is known for their elaborate designs, this year being a Chicago Blackhawks picture for their 2015 Stanley Cup Win (Go Sports.) The corn maze was interesting, not as big as I anticipated, but still interesting. I had hoped it would be more spooky, but alas, it was family-oriented. We were able to get some really solid pumpkins, and all in all, it was an enjoyable time. On the way, we had seen a billboard for Antioch’s Asylum 2. Now, I rarely drive over an hour to ANY haunted house. It’s just hard to justify when being near Chicago means there are at least 10-15 houses within 30 minutes. We figured, why not check this out, this could be the only time we are in Antioch anyways.
We went through the website and read some reviews. I would say that it looked decent? The website was horribly done, so I wasn’t anticipating much. We bought our tickets online, and off to the house we went. Upon arriving at the house we were greeted with numerous fire trucks and police cars. One of the traffic directors came over to us and explained that the building across the street was having issues with gas tanks and it was setting off alarms all over the building. He ensured us that the haunted house was open and that we would have fun, we just needed to park our car elsewhere just in case there was an “incident." I happily agreed, and parked my car down the block. If my car exploded due to a gas explosion, I figured it would at least make the house memorable. The house looked amateur at best from the outside, but I’ve learned my lesson from other houses that you really can’t judge a book by its cover.
While walking up to the line, we were stopped by three girls all dressed as what I assume were dead soldiers from the 1940s, they explained the rules to the haunt, and like that, we were in line. One strange note is that you are not allowed any bags whatsoever. You will not be admitted with a bag, so leave it in the car if you decide to go. The line didn’t seem like much, but my god was it cold outside! We waited for almost 45 minutes to get in, and meanwhile, actors rotated in and out to entertain the crowd. My first and major point of contention with this is that due to the line being outside, everyone was smoking. [editor's note: I freaking HATE that. It's kind of a deal-breaker for me. Ugh. I hate cigarette smoke.] People in line, the actors, it didn’t matter, you were going to be choking on smoke. The next point of contention was the music while waiting. I know this is minor, but music is there to keep you entertained while you stand in line. It’s like you either play Halloween stuff, or the generic metal, but you at least switch it up some. This was like someone was just playing the Slipknot discography in order, not even the original stuff either. It wasn’t very mood setting.
So again, we waited in line for quite some time, and it seemed like no one was really moving, and that’s when I noticed it. This is the first haunted house I’ve ever been to where they just sent in your group. So this meant at times, just two people were getting let in, other times it was eight. That’s always been one of my major gripes with haunts. You sometimes get stuck with large groups and some of those people really take the fun out of it. You know the types, you either wind up with the teenage girls that scream the entire time and you can’t even tell whats happening, or you wind up with the alpha bros that have to tell you how not scared and cheesey it is. I was pleased to know this wouldn’t happen. The other bizarre occurrence here was that more than half of the crowd was middle aged+ adults. I’ve never seen so many like childless parents at an event like this, but maybe that’s all that’s available in rural Illinois... Before we knew it, were next in line and in we went.
Annie and I had talked before entering what our expectations were considering the house, and we both agreed that they were low. This was definitely not the case. This haunt had some of the most interesting rooms I’ve ever seen. The actors were definitely into it, and made the experience that much better. This is only the third year that the Asylum has been open, and you can definitely tell that they are not your typical big-budget house. I want to be careful when I say this, because I’m not criticizing them for not having the most expensive props or high tech items, because they did a fantastic job with what they have. The haunt had some amazingly creative rooms, including things I’ve never seen before, and actors that wanted nothing more than to scare you. I never once felt like we were being rushed through the house, and was just all-around a good time. This is a prime example of not judging a book by its cover. For instance, a haunt like 13th Floor in Melrose Park is promoted everywhere, has lots of big budget props, but just fails. It lacks the human aspect of the house and it’s obvious their main goal is to make money. Asylum seems to be put on by people that love haunted houses, and that’s something I can always get behind.
In retrospect to the house itself, the only complaint I had was the finale of the haunt. You typically want to end big, or get one last unexpected scare in there, but this did neither. The ending was weak and awkward. That being said, the rest of the house makes up for it tenfold. Great time. Now I’d say the real determining factor here is if it’s worth the drive. As I mentioned earlier, being around Chicago means there are plenty of houses to choose from, some of those are great, and others not so much. This wasn’t the best, but it was entertaining. The drive is what makes me think you may want to skip on this one. The price point was great, and the house itself was very entertaining, but compare that to the hour+ drive to get there, and the lousy time I had waiting prior to entering the house, and I feel like you’d find better houses closer.
SCORE: Three smokers in line out of Five.
Jen @ Hell Razor (on behalf of Sam)