Taking place in Bluewater shopping centre, House of the Dead was a surprisingly theatrical experience where guests walk through a number of actor-led scenes.
This one really caught us off guard. We didn’t know what to expect going into it but assumed it was going to be a 10/15 min scare maze using vacant space in the shopping centre. We got something a lot less scary but more considered than a typical haunt.
Upon entering, we were told to interact with the characters within to get the most out of the experience. At that point, we had no idea what was waiting for us inside anymore! And with that, we were ushered into a mini theatre by a cantankerous old man who had something off-hand to say to each person as they entered. He was a great character but we still weren’t quite sure what was happening. Were we going to watch a show? Was this a holding room? To be honest, we’re still not entirely sure. Nothing happened beyond the man hurling witty abuse at people. He played the part fantastically well but when we were eventually told to leave the theatre, we were a bit confused to say the least! Although we appreciated that they threw something into the mix that made you uncertain about what was to follow. The following scenes weren’t as disarming as that opening room. This was a shame as we quite enjoyed being completely clueless as to what was going on! It then became a series of disconnected scenes that included taking a seat at the Mad Hatter’s tea party and meeting a very odd toymaker; it became a bit more ‘typical’ as it progressed.
The acting was definitely the standout here. The actors were incredibly lively and aggressive (in a good way). The character of ‘Dolly’ was the most memorable. She got uncomfortably close to our faces and just refused to budge. It got to the point where it started feeling awkward! She was definitely the star of the show.
We also liked the brave decision to take a more theatrical route with the attraction. We expected dark corridors and jump scares but ended up with a much richer experience.
It wasn’t in any way scary. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the show hadn’t acted as though it were. It felt caught between two places and not really being too successful in either. This is because the theatre side of it didn’t really gel as there was no through line. Each scene was a self-contained skit that had no connection to anything that happened either side of it.
We’ll be honest, whilst this was a fun time, we’re not sure if we’d go out of our way to visit again. It didn’t necessarily do anything wrong and if it was closer to us, we’d definitely visit next year. That said, it was probably a bit too experimental for our liking. We appreciate it for toeing the line between being a haunt and a piece of immersive theatre but with each scene being completely unrelated to what occurred previously, the theatrical element was too fractured to be fully engaging. And as a horror attraction, the longish actor-led scenes got in the way of the scares.
Rating: *** (Out of 5) – Flawed but worth checking out
Ticket Price: £20
Address: Bluewater, Greenhithe, Kent, DA9 9ST