Please note: this review is for the 2012 season rather than the current season.

The Hill Has Eyes

by JJrakman after attending on Saturday, September 29, 2012 at about 2 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: High

Review

This is a truly awesome haunt, highly recommended. The trail through the woods was fantastic and winding enough where it'll be hard for separate groups to bump into each other. There was some really innovative scenes in the woods and the actors did mostly a great job with coming up with characters that didn't rely on the stereotypical "get out" trappings. The old trucks and plow equipment really added to a uniquely creepy environment. I was also glad not to have to smell gas or exhaust fumes which seems to be prevalent in these kinds of outdoor haunts. Who would have thought that the ski lift machinery could be so spooky? Great stuff!

*SPOILERS*

Here is some constructive criticism I have to offer. The haunt could use some better signage. As a skier, my first instinct was to walk into the chalet, but the actual trail to the haunt was off to the side with no lights and some really small signs. Also as a skier I'm used to signing the release form, but I can see where this might take some non-skiers by surprise. It might slow the line down if folks want to take the time to read every line. I would recommend perhaps putting up some large posters of the release form inside the ticket tent so folks can read it while they're waiting in line. This could help move the line better when it gets busier.

Some of the ushering staff and ski lift operators could use some haunting make up to help not break the illusion while standing in line or between haunts. Even the manager who seems to have been present giving directions could have used some make up to that end. While in the first trail there were a few empty spots on the trail that I thought could have benefited from having some miscellaneous zombies milling about, I do think that the 2nd trail suffered a bit from an overabundance of them. The boo! tactic of jumping out and getting that classic cheap scare works good the first time around, but it looses its impact by the 5th time. Also many of the actors doing this boo! routine were screaming at the top of their lungs. While I do appreciate the enthusiasm, I would warn that keeping up that kind of high energy all night will be challenging, and could ruin a person's voice box by the end of the night. Some simple soft groaning or even silence when someone jumps out or walks across the trail can be equally as effective if not more so, and a bit easier on the actor as well.

I was disappointed that there weren't any roaming zombies or burial grounds blow the scare lift. But we were one of the first people through so they may not have had that part ironed out yet. I think the scare lift could benefit from a few things. First, the lights on the lift itself would be awesome if they were changed to a red or blue light, either by changing the color of the light bulbs or by placing colored gels over the existing lights. Also, especially if the burial grounds and zombies are established below, it would be great to bathe the hill in some kind of fog, if such a thing is possible with some kind of large scale fog machine. You could also have occasional zombies taking the lift down and passing haunt goers on their way up. A bit of instruction on how to use the lift might be helpful at the bottom as I suspect this haunt will attract a lot of non-skiers.

These are mostly nitpicks. The only really area that could use a haunt make over would be the tent at the top of the hill after the scare lift. There's not much really going on here. One chainsaw in a haunt is always enough, more than that and they lose their impact particularly when they're all in a row. There were no scary decorations in this area either. The walls of the small maze under the tent just looked like they were sprayed with graffiti as the result of teenage mischief. These things can be easily rectified though.

I was also a bit disappointed that the chalet wasn't open, as I was a bit hungry and would definitely have bought a hot dog or a burger and a soda or a hot chocolate or cider. This could be an easy way for the haunt to squeak out a few more bucks, maybe even sell souvenir T-Shirts for the haunt.

Overall though a really great experience, can't wait to see how they improve over the years to come. Thanks for a great experience!

Summary

All in all a very good first year run, very enjoyable, definitely a must see. I think if they take some of my suggestions above and the suggestions of others that this could easily become a world class haunt no problem.

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April 22nd, 2024 8:50 a.m. CDT 24.01