Old School Romp at Exit 13

Our final stop last Friday night brought us to Exit 13 in Mt. Morris just north of Flint. We pulled into the parking lot of a dilapidated building, brush ran wild in untended thickets — it looked as if the place had been abandoned for at least a decade. There was scarcely a crowd at the entrance, a lone group stood hesitantly outside the doors, a boy of roughly twelve was visibly crying — he had yet to enter the attraction — on the inside I had a laugh. We purchased our tickets from an unsettlingly quiet and stoney eyed senior citizen, the creep factor inched a bit higher. We walked to the front of the queue line as there wasn’t a wait — an obscure, low budget film was being projected on the far wall but we had no time for such table dressing the ghouls at Exit 13 awaited our arrival.

As it were a member of the group we had witnessed milling about nervously when we arrived decided he’d rather go with us. His name was Corey and he latched onto my arm as if I were his date for the night. We were greeted by a man who identified himself as Dr. John, doctor of what he did not say. Dr. John comically explained to us that there were no rules at Exit 13 and that the monsters within would indeed touch us and as he said this I felt a pair of hands grab my ankles, this would occur at various times throughout the haunt and it provided that spooky vibe that only an unseen menace can conjure up.

Exit 13 employed a minimalist approach — the whole of the attraction was dark and cold — and reminded me greatly of the old school stylings put forth at the Extreme Scream. By the way — does anybody know what’s become of the Extreme Scream? I miss it dearly. Exit 13 provided rooms with an interesting twist such as the darkly reflective tinfoil room and the narrow passage where a towering wall of water cooler jugs nearly buried us alive. The actors were something of a mixed bag, but the crew was plentiful and on average they performed admirably. A few of the workers did deliver lackluster scares and in one crucial scene a scare came far too late but the cast was lively and genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves.

We very much enjoyed the Christmas room which was cozy and yet some how horrific simultaneously. It’s neat to see a scene like this in a haunted attraction flush with Christmas decorations and lighting — a stark contrast indeed. It was here that an ill timed scare could’ve been so much more, we did give the evil helper ample opportunity to spring his trap but not every scare can be a work of art. Later on we stumbled upon an enthusiastic preacher who bullied us from his pulpit and commanded us sinners to step in the confessional. I thought for a moment that we would be locked inside of a small room and forced to repent but my anticipation soon diminished as we merely proceeded into the next hallway with no further interaction — yet another opportunity lost in my opinion.

Elsewhere we came upon a small window which afforded us the opportunity to peer inside of a bedroom (oh, kinky) that we would soon enter. I enjoy these type of features in haunted attractions because it adds a twist to the impending scare. The operators are giving you a glimpse of what you must face, a disturbed girl sat in front of a mirror combing her hair, but you know that this won’t be it — someone or something was bound to join her soon. We escaped this scene and proceeded to something neither John or I had witnessed before — a clear Womb of Doom?! It was an incredible and fanciful sight — suffocating inflatable walls pushed in on us from either side except they were a semi-clear plastic and a multitude of bright lights swirled about them. The overall effect was quite dazzling and to add to the excitement the crazed girls we’d escaped from a room prior were now thrashing at us from the other side of the thin walls. This was one of my favorite features of the attraction I only wish it had been utilized to maximum effect and used near the conclusion of the haunt where it would have been much better suited in a thematic sense.

As we neared the final third of Exit 13 we found ourselves caged as animals, a chain linked fence comprised the ceiling above our heads. This is a little used design strategy that I’ve only witnessed at a few haunted houses — Demonic Demons comes to mind most readily — but it provides for an easy assault from above and indeed a wily ghoul beat the top of the fence with shovel whilst shouting insults and threats. By this time our pal Corey had danced a circle of fear around John and I both as he comically talked trash to the monsters while using us as human shields. The chase was on now as we braved the final onslaught of Exit 13 — a giant sized cretin stalked us through a room full of drums, beating on them violently as we proceeded.

A livid nurse ushered us into a hospital room where a retarded man was about to give birth, yes you read that correctly. Suddenly, the newborn sprung forth from beneath his gown and swung wildly by his umbilical cord. The offspring flopped to the ground on the side of the gurney and lay limp. The new parent cast me a confused or bemused or maybe it was just a plain ole retarded look. I approached the bed and picked the apparent still born up off of the floor — it was spongy and skeletal and completely absurd. I handed the baby to the mustachioed father and gave my congratulations, he stared at me with googly eyes and nodded stupidly before pointing to the next room. I glanced back before I proceeded, wondering if I had actually just witnessed a mentally challenged person exploited in a haunted attraction. It was either that or that guy was the best damn actor I’ve encountered at any such attraction — gave me a laugh nonetheless.

Finally, we entered into a large room where several clowns had run a mock. One gleefully peddled a tricycle much too small for himself while another furiously cranked the handle on an immense box. The box sprung open and a third clown raced toward our group, poor Corey nearly hit the ceiling not knowing which way to run. He bolted for the exit where a fourth clown, this one of the hefty sort, greeted him with a chainsaw! The quartet paraded about the room madly for a few moments before they relented and granted us our freedom.

Admittedly, Exit 13 fell short in some areas as I’ve mentioned but on the whole the operators stuck to the fundamentals of haunting and managed to deliver both laughs and scares along the way. A number of the scenes I’ve mentioned were quite creative and full of energy – – John and I saw a couple of things that we hadn’t quite experienced before and for that Exit 13 deserves high marks. With a more consistent cast, a little more emphasis on interactive environments, and a few design tweaks — Exit 13 could be even better still. Regardless, I look forward to returning one day perhaps when we get around to that weekend long Flint area haunt crawl.

Rating: 4 stars

“Congratulations, it’s a…it’s a….we’ll it’s a something.”

“(Unintelligible groaning)” 

-My interaction with the proud father as I presented him with his clearly dead newborn.

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