The Dark Box Plays Mind Games

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Twin, jet-black trailers sat side by side tucked against a treeline. The phrase “The Dark Box” was displayed in blood red letters near the entrance of the attraction. This was minimalism in action and the stripped-down presentation was a welcome addition to an industry gone glutton over fanciful facades and slick animatronics. The experience at The Dark Box would be psychological, visceral and physical.

BACKS AGAINST THE WALL.

DO NOT SPEAK.

PUT THIS SACK OVER YOUR HEAD.

Those were the simple, direct commands given to us by a formidable figure upon our immediate entrance into the haunt. A siren could be heard in the distance, but worse somewhere close the subtle but persistent rhythm of a clock distorted time and filled each awkward silence with palatable tension.

TURN TO YOUR RIGHT.

PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU.

WALK.

The burlap sacks were removed from our heads and we proceeded forward with caution. We entered a sparsely furnished living room where we found a nervous young man who rocked himself in front of a television screen that displayed only static. The man flailed his limbs and screamed until his lungs were surely on fire, we crawled through a tube to be free of the disturbing scene — his shrieks remained audible several rooms removed.

We traveled deeper into The Dark Box and had our path cut off by a pig-man, moments later the alternate route was also rendered impassable by an odd ghoul. The pig-man and the odd ghoul each suggested a possible exit and while neither seemed particularly trustworthy our options were limited. It was a testament to the raw weirdness of the odd ghoul that we accepted the word of the pig-man.

Soon, we crawled through a second tube and the signature sound of a chainsaw ripped through the silence with ferocity. John scrambled through last and once free reported that something had attempted to pull him back to the other side.

We were encased on either side by floor-to-ceiling wooden pallets — a thin fog crept through every slat, mysterious lights smeared hues of red, green and blue into patches of ephemeral smoke. A strobe-light sliced into the darkness of a small room populated by pearly white mannequins, a girl wept in the corner and then began to paw at us. Beyond her we discovered a blood-splattered bathroom in which the exit was neatly disguised as a shower.

A few moments later we would escape The Dark Box and emerge into the night air only to find ourselves under a thick canopy of foliage. We turned a corner, walked a few paces and hit an apparent dead end. Further investigation would reveal the existence of a peculiar path, a path that at least one of our group members refused to travel. Needless to say, it proved to be a harrowing, heart-racing and claustrophobic road to freedom.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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