A few months after Delectably Dead, we were back in Southend for Hide and Shriek’s The Seance. There’s been a few seance-themed events in recent months (check out our reviews for 139 Copeland Road and The Harrowing) so we were curious to see what Hide and Shriek would do with the concept.
The story begins with you entering No. 9 Ashburn Road (a fantastically detailed set) and taking a seat at the living room table. You’re there in an attempt to contact the spirit world and understand why the property is a hotbed of paranormal activity. Upon sitting down, one major difference between this event and the other seance-based shows became apparent. There’s no medium. Or rather a member of the audience assumes that role instead of it being performed by an actor. Whoever is chosen to be the medium is directed by an unseen character on a TV screen. It’s an interesting way of playing it and made for a scarier time, removing the security that a professional’s presence affords the audience.
It’s no spoiler to mention that contact is made and the spirit leaves you in zero doubt about its existence! This is where The Seance also differed from the other two events. When things took a turn for the worse they were very bombastic! The effects and situations wouldn’t feel out of place in a theme park attraction. It’s a different approach to the concept and made The Seance feel fresh despite sharing a similar theme with other shows.
The first thing that struck us was the set. It’s crazy how impressive it was. The experience begins in the front garden of the property, complete with clothesline and atmospheric effects. You enter the house and it has a staircase and everything. It sounds like a small thing to get excited about it but it sets the scene fantastically, immersing you from the very first second. This was definitely theme park level, in fact, it rivalled Halloween Horror Nights haunts for design. Couple that with all the effects and you have a seriously slick set up.
Speaking of the effects, we don’t want to spoil it but they totally engulf you. A cool little touch is that the living room faces the front garden and through the window you can see the clothes whipping in the storm outside, punctuated by thunder and lightning. It’s that layered combination of effects that puts you right in the moment and The Seance is full of them.
The other thing we have to mention is that the tension is ratcheted up to almost unbearable levels – at points you are sat in darkness for extended periods and the anticipation of what’s going to happen and where it’s going to come from makes for a few tense moments! Especially given the creepiness of the set. This one’s definitely one of the scarier events that Hide and Shriek have done!
Whilst we liked the twist of not having an actor as the medium, we think that maybe some of the story was sacrificed as that character is typically the conduit for exposition. We eventually fled No. 9 without really knowing the whats and whys of the haunting. It’s a difficult balance but considering that you’re present to learn the secrets of the house, we felt that we left the building having somewhat failed. But it’s definitely not a deal breaker and it gives you something to think about afterwards!
The Seance (2017) Hide and Shriek
The Seance is a fantastically themed and executed experience. This is an attraction that's high on spectacle and we doubt you'll leave unimpressed. Book your tickets ASAP!!
Ticket Price: £16
Address: 344-347 Chartwell Square, Victoria Plaza, Southend-on-sea, Essex SS2 5SP