Team Zombillies reviewed this attraction on October 14, 2016.
Final Score: 7.48
FriteLodge is a non-profit haunted house that takes place inside the Pleasant Masonic Lodge and has done so since 2009. 2016 marks our review team’s first visit here as they present ‘Fear the Unknown.’ All of the crew members are volunteers and each of them clearly expressed a passion for what they are doing! Because the Lodge uses the building for other purposes throughout the year, these guys completely rebuild their haunt each season, which helps them keep it fresh and new for their customers. We encountered quite a variety of frights during our tour and, if you visit FrightLodge this season, you just may be in for a few surprises yourself!
The first and foremost aspect of this 25(ish)-member cast is their energy; these volunteers have got plenty of it. From the moment we stepped up to the entrance and handed in our tickets, they were taunting and sniffing at us through the door’ anxiously waiting for us to cross into their realm! The actors kept their performances cranked up with intense yelling and menacing stares as we negotiated their respective areas, often referring to things in their scenes or asking us questions. This interaction added to their believability and made them more realistic to us. Cases in point being the mechanic, who threatened to break our arms and throw us in the boiler, and the crazy guy in the rat room, who exclaimed, ‘Their necks; they break so easy!’ Other characters of special note include the trio in the morgue, but especially the victim who literally bent over backwards for us!
The folks at FriteLodge actually created their own masks and pride themselves with their originality. We only noticed a couple of them (masks) during our tour, but each were definitely unique and seemed to be a fit for the characters wearing them. The makeup that we noticed varied, with some of the actors sporting nice applications and others who utilized simpler designs. The costumes themselves ranged from pitch black suits and dark-colored clothing to more complex outfits, such as those worn by the beekeeper, the mechanic, the graveyard zombie and the morgue/medical workers. Nothing was especially ‘over the top,’ but everything seemed to work for the characters and scenes they were used for.
Customer Service: 8.5
Since this was our first visit to FriteLodge, we weren’t sure what to expect or look for upon arrival. Fortunately, they had several signs by the road that let us know where the entrance was and, aside from that, there’s no missing the front of the Lodge with its eerie columns and green-lit facade. Parking attendants were on site, guiding customers to the best spots in their paved, well-lit lot and a portable restroom was noticed a short distance away from the ticket booth… just in case you need to ’empty the tank’ before you go in. Multiple friendly and professional FriteLodge people were roaming about near the ticket booth in case you have any questions and one kindly showed us to the entrance (around front) before our journey began. The queue line leads down a set of stairs (so be mindful of those) and a pumpkin-headed line actor accompanied the ambient rock music while we waited our turn to enter. Other than the stairs, our tour through the haunt was smooth sailing. Don’t forget to snap a picture at the photo op and soak up some heat by the fire pit’ if you can escape, that is!
It all starts with the ominous facade; with the existing columns that seem to ‘cage’ the front patio of this multi-level structure and the green floodlights shining upward from the lawn, FrightLodge sticks out like a full moon amidst the dense, Indianapolis suburbs. When combined with the signs, a fog machine, a couple of roaming actors and, of course, a well-decorated hearse, we could definitely tell these guys had some spooks in store for us! Speaking of the hearse, this one’s not your ordinary haunted house lawn ornament’ no siree. This one’s been built to the gills with lots of go-fast goodies. However, if you wanna check it out, you’ll have to get past the skull with multi-colored, flashing eyes that guards the engine bay! (Sorry, where were we? Oh yes, review’)
We didn’t notice any music or sounds outside of the building, except for the occasional noises and screams of those inside and others who were fleeing from the exit. There was some rock music, however, once we entered the building. Here’s where we mention one of the most unique entrances we’ve ever seen: an overhead door! Yes; the drone of an electric motor that slowly, yet creepily, draws up a narrow garage door is what welcomes you into the wicked world of FriteLodge! Simple? Maybe’ but unique and different? Definitely! On top of that, an actor from behind the door was shining a light through the sides and taunting us before it opened, which certainly made us more anxious to go in’ not to mention, gave us a few laughs too.
Special Effects: 7.9
FriteLodge aims to be as original as possible and, as a result, they make as many of their props and effects as they can. It should be noted that these guys don’t have the luxury of keeping their haunt assembled throughout the year and, because the building normally acts as the local Masonic Lodge, they aren’t able to modify the regular walls or structure. On to of that, they’re only allowed to start putting things together in June and, afterwards, everything must be disassembled and packed up in 3 days, so everything is made to be relatively portable. Also, FriteLodge is more of what we’d call an ‘actor-driven’ haunt’ meaning they don’t use an abundance of electrical/air-operated props (although, you will still see a few of those as well). With all of that being said, there’s still a good amount of detail that’s put into each of the scenes’ all of which clearly distinguishes one scene from the next and successfully brings the crew’s conniving creations to life! Lots of strategically-placed accent lights add an extra layer of ‘creepy’ to the mix. Some of the most memorable effects include laser lights, a giant mouse trap (at least we THINK it’s for mice), bells, buzzers, an experimental chamber and the various scene-related sounds that put the finishing touch on their respective areas. Finally, a lot of the paths through the haunt are fairly tight. Everything is still easily passable, mind you, but the close quarters definitely give the actors an unfair advantage in getting up close and personal with you with very little notice!
FriteLodge’s theme this year is ‘Fear the Unknown.’ While there’s no distinct storyline or a defined method to the madness, the ‘unknown’ aspect definitely came into play because we never knew what the next room had in store for us! Everything we encountered was completely random, including a morgue, a cemetery, a room filled with huge bees, a cornfield, a boiler room and more!
Fright Effect: 7.75
In the small amount of time we were within this crew’s grasp, we were surprised by how many different types of frights they were able to throw at us! Given the tight quarters and closeness of the props, many of the scares were quite unexpected, which made us keep our guards up for most of the way through. A few well-placed drop panels, dark areas, stinging insects (don’t worry, they don’t really sting, but the effect is pretty clever) and intense sounds are just a few of the frights they used against us, while a static-filled hiding spot within a ‘tube’ turned out to be a very unique distraction. You also won’t find any chainsaws here (Wait’ what?! No chainsaws!?!). That’s correct. Instead, they use loud noises and a ‘grave’ surprise to get your blood pumping as you head out for the finale.
General admission is $12.00 per person. However, there’s a $2.00-off coupon that can be found on their website, so everyone can get in for $10.00 (cash or credit at the door). The space inside the Lodge is rather limited and, because of this, it only took us 7 minutes to escape our demise… putting their “minutes of entertainment per dollar spent” a bit low at 0.58 (1.5 was the average from all of the haunts we were able to attend last season). Although the attraction is very short in duration compared to the other haunts we visit, our journey was action-packed all the way through! There was no dead space and we were actually quite impressed with how much they were able to cram into the small space that they’re given to work with. FriteLodge is part of IndyHaunts.com, where you can receive a discount for visiting multiple attractions… so you may want to check that out if you’re interested in touring some of Indy’s other fine attractions! As mentioned above, all of the proceeds earned by this haunt are given to charity at the end of the year; so, by purchasing a ticket to get your scream on at FriteLodge, you are supporting a good cause (and the community) at the same time!