As we tend to do, we went straight to ‘Cursed’ from Hide and Shriek’s ‘Scream Park’. There were seven haunts to get through and we arrived just before 9pm, which meant that we wasted no time hitting up the mazes!
The Nag Inn: Set in an old pub, this maze definitely looked the part. It really did feel like an old-fashioned inn! We found this maze to be quite claustrophobic, lots of narrow corridors with blind corners. But, as nicely themed as the attraction was, it was a bit light on actors. ***
Arachnid: The walk up to this was great; the haunt was situated on its own, far away from the other attractions. More should have been done along this dark, wooded route. We would have liked to see one or two actors along the trail. It was still atmospheric but definitely a missed opportunity! The maze itself was neat, being pitch black for almost the duration with the odd web hanging from the ceiling. The disappointing thing here was that the walls weren’t textured at all. Considering that you spend the length of the maze feeling your way around, there should have been more of an effort to make the haunt have the tactility of a spider’s nest. ***
Workchop: Set in a factory where people were being killed for meat; this was one of the few haunts that we’ve seen use smell creatively. The place had a thick aroma of smoky bacon crisps throughout, which was both nice and appalling in equal measure! The actual walkthrough felt similar to ‘The Nag Inn’ in that there were plenty of tight corridors and blind corners. ***
Cell 13: Being completely honest about this one, we found it forgettable beyond the cool façade. The main problem that we had with it (which cropped up again later with ‘Toy Shop’) was that it felt almost indistinguishable from some of the other mazes. They all started to come across as having the same basic layout just with different dressing. ‘Cell 13’ just didn’t do enough to set itself apart from the other offerings at ‘Cursed’ and it was at this point that the haunts started feeling familiar. ***
FestEvil: Another clown maze! This had all the same old tropes, starting with a brilliantly long claustrophobia tunnel. Beyond that, this maze didn’t do anything special to make itself stand out from every other clown maze out there. ***
Toy Shop: As mentioned earlier, we found this to be almost the exact same maze as others at ‘Cursed’. Now, we’re pretty sure that the creators could show us how they all varied but the problem for us was that whatever differences there were felt like no more than a bit of set dressing. The acting in this maze was a bit more theatrical than in the others and the mutilated teddy bear wall was a nice touch. I became so focused on the wall that an actor managed to catch me out! ***
Pig Pen: We ended the night on this attraction as it had the longest queue when we arrived; we figured it was best to miss one maze than loads if we spent too long in this queue. By the time we got around to it, it had shrunk so our planning paid off! We liked this haunt as it took place outside, affording the actors little space to hide – they had to work for the scares here! The standout moment of the whole evening came from this haunt with an actor disguised as a hay bale. Sounds simple but it really worked! ***
Amphifeartre: This wasn’t open when we arrived.
The staff were friendly here and the street performers were attentive, one that we encountered at the beginning of our visit remembered us when we were leaving, which was a nice touch!
We think that the numbers worked against ‘Cursed’. Seven haunts were too many for what they delivered. If they bring that number down to five and use the extra time and money to really separate each attraction, they would have a stronger attraction. They had some nice touches like ‘Pig Pen’ and ‘Arachnid’ but then watered down the feel of the overall event with a bunch of identikit attractions. Less would definitely be more here.
With seven haunts, Cursed is reasonably priced compared to other events and you can have a great time here. We’d even go so far as to say that our main issue with it probably wouldn’t even be a concern to the casual Halloween goer. It’s a good event that we intend on returning to next year, hopefully, tweaks are made to turn it into a great event!
Rating: *** (Out of 5) – Flawed but worth checking out
Ticket Price: £23
Address: Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea Hall Lane, Pitsea, Basildon, Essex, SS16 4UH