** We have to caveat this review by saying that we were invited along to this event by the FearFest-Evil organisers a day before the official opening of the show. Given that we attended a preview, some of the points that we raise may not be applicable during the event’s public run **
Update: The guys behind FearFest-Evil have been in touch to let us know that several tweaks have since been made to the event, including our main point regarding the number of actors throughout the haunt. With this now addressed, we’re sure that FearFest-Evil is an even better experience!
Taking place at a pretty unique location, FearFest-Evil is Chepstow’s annual Halloween event comprising of three scare zones and two live shows plus a zip line and swing that are available on certain tiers of ticket. We were extremely impressed with what they’d pulled off at this event – the theming in the main haunt was phenomenal. There were some downsides to the evening that we’ll address at the end.
Time in queue: 0:00
Time in attraction: We forgot to time this one!!
We’re extremely mixed on Platform 13 as it didn’t feel like a complete attraction, consisting mainly of a long walk along a train track. The main issue here was the location and a lack of actors. The characters that we did encounter were elaborately costumed and many were made up with full face prosthetics rather than a quick dab of face paint. There was even one gigantic beast that lurched around on all fours! There just weren’t that many of them for the length of the walk.
The outdoors, open nature of this section meant that there were few places for the actors to hide although when we went through, it’d just started getting dark. Later in the evening, we imagine that this will be less of a problem but is something that is symptomatic of the space rather than any failing in design. And the actors had clearly adjusted their style for this, opting for a creepier approach that eschewed impact scares. And despite the fact that it was outside, Platform 13 was still themed way beyond our expectations with all manner of grotesque oddities hanging from the surrounding trees!
Things took an upwards turn in the second half when we were made to enter a foreboding drainage tunnel. Once inside, this pipe narrowed further, eventually spitting us out into a very tight cave system! We had to shimmy around a couple of corners, always on edge that some creature would be lurking beyond the next bend. Sadly, we only encountered one actor in this space but we suspect that the area wasn’t able to accommodate much more than that.
All in all, we just didn’t encounter enough cast members to make this feel much different to a casual night stroll.
House of Horrors
Time in queue: 0:00
Time in attraction: We also forgot to time this one!
Leading straight on from Platform 13, House of Horrors amped things up considerably with amazing theming and more actors than we saw in Platform. Again, we were super impressed that the actors wore face prosthetics – it’s such a rare thing to see and demonstrates that FearFest-Evil were putting a lot of thought and care into their attractions. As far as the performances went, the cast here played things more theatrically, delivering actual characters rather than trying to ‘boo’ scare you.
The house itself was an eclectic mishmash of scenes ranging from suspect autopsies through to neon-splattered corridors. The thing worth noting throughout this haunt was the set design, everywhere was decorated to a stupidly high level. There were moments that easily bested sets at Fright Nights and Scarefest and lent the maze an incredibly polished feel.
Our only criticism here applies to the other two haunts at the event, it definitely didn’t feel as though there were enough actors for the location. It was less of an issue here for us because we were so impressed with the scenery!
Tales of the Dark
Time in queue: 0:00
Time in attraction: 14:34
Starting with a brilliant encounter with a clown and a claustrophobia tunnel, Tales of the Dark then opened out into a path through actual woodland in the dark. We were 50/50 on this area – it was evident that, once again, a lot of thought had gone into designing what was a simple walk through the woods. There was a section consisting of ‘floating’ doors and, passing through one curtain, we were presented with an unearthly silver forest. It was a beautiful image eerily juxtaposed with the beastly resident prowling between the trees. At the risk of repeating ourselves, this was a fully costumed character, not just a person in face paint! We really don’t see enough fantastical creatures in haunts!
We also got the best scare of the night here with a ghostly bride – the set up was simple but massively effective, it totally caught us off guard!
Our issue here was the same as it was throughout the night, a lack of cast members reduced the scariness considerably although if the idea of walking through the woods in the dark fills you with dread, maybe this isn’t an issue! When you take into account that this was essentially a walk in the dark, the team had gone to great lengths to make it visually interesting but it just wasn’t that scary.
CarnEvil of the Bizarre
Time in queue: 0:00
Time in attraction: 49:26
Wow, the evening kicked off with this show and it’s a brilliant addition to the lineup with all manner of bizarre and grotesque acts set to a pumping rock soundtrack. The details of the show are best left for you to discover for yourself but the acts ran the gamut from acrobats and contortionists through to human pincushion-esque feats. There are definite moments that aren’t for the squeamish but it’s a really fun time and a great way to start your evening at FearFest-Evil!
The regular tier entry also gains you access to a psychic medium show – we didn’t attend this but thought it was worth mentioning all the same!
We enjoyed ourselves at FearFest-Evil and it was evident that the team behind the event had put a lot of work into the presentation. The detail in the characters and sets is something that we rarely see. Where the event was less successful was in the volume of cast members and working with the location that they had available to them. In the case of Platform 13 and Dark Tales, we’re not sure what else could be done to improve these two – the natural locations provide fewer options than something built from the ground up. Maybe another haunt akin to House of Horrors could help round out the experience although we’d have no idea where they’d accommodate something like this!
+ Amazing theming
+ Effort to create distinct characters
- General lack of actors throughout the haunts
FearFest-Evil is a surprisingly polished event and, with the inclusion of CarnEvil of the Bizarre, worth checking out. If there had been more cast members throughout the attractions we would have given this an extra star. As mentioned at the top of the review, we attended a preview evening so this may have already been addressed.
Ticket Price: From £34.99
Address: National Diving & Activity Centre, Tidenham NP16 7LH