Team Zombillies reviewed this attraction on September 30, 2016.
Final Score: 8.14
Although the 20,000 sq. ft. House of Trepidation is only returning for its second season of terrorizing Indianapolis, our 2016 experience indicates that the creative minds behind the scenes here have been in the industry for quite a bit longer! Dr. Eugene Irving Belle has returned with many of his present (and past) patients and experiments who are stuck roaming his house, his lab and the ‘in-between.’ House of Trepidation takes you on a tour of the well-intentioned Doctor’s home, but beware of the disgruntled spirits that are holding a grudge against their assailant! Crossroads of Carnage introduces you to Dr. Belle himself and offers you a chance to discover the truth about his experimental procedures. Purgatory, as we’re sure you can assume, is where some of the spirits that have suffered from his trials and tribulations are lingering as they await passage into the afterlife. The Doctor has, apparently, worked on quite a variety of patients, as we never really knew what to expect as we made our way through the complex. We did just so happen to miss their new, outdoor finale area due to rain, but we can tell you that it includes an interesting cemetery scene with a very unique fog effect! While they’re not the scariest or the most intense attraction out there, House of Trepidation certainly has an eye for creating a creepy and imaginative atmosphere that true Halloween enthusiasts will be sure to appreciate.
We were informed by management that around 54 actors and actresses staff the three haunts at House of Trepidation on an average night. We encountered a few places where the actors were a little sparse, but they did seem to be spread out fairly evenly and, given the number of actors and considering the size of the building, a few ‘dead spots’ can be expected. A few characters were in out in the queue area, although the most impressive was debatably ‘Elizabeth’ as she charismatically gave us our safety spiel and the theme introduction for the House of Trepidation attraction. The clown seemed a bit out of place amidst all of the green- and purple-lit spookiness inside the building, but she definitely kept us entertained while we were near her photo op area. Another memorable encounter during our tour was with the prized (talking) human head in Dr. Belle’s trophy room; you gotta admit, you don’t see that very often! The nurse at the beginning of Crossroads of Carnage asked us for our names, as they like to be on a ‘first name basis’ in Dr. Belle’s medical office. The physician was quite energetic, although we admit to being a bit confused as to which of the two male actors in lab coats was actually Eugene during our visit. Another memorable actor was the one that was chained up to the wall, awaiting his imminent trials with the Doctor and struggling to break free from his restraints. Finally, a masked shadow figure was successfully able to stalk our group and keep the intimidation level high through most of our trek through Purgatory. Amidst all of this interaction, there were still several actors who simply growled or yelled at us with no further exchange and there was also some dialogue use that wasn’t as period-correct or believable as what we heard with Elizabeth when we started our tour.
The costuming at this haunt varied pretty greatly from what we could see during our tour. On the lower end, we did notice some parts of street clothes (one shirt was obviously just turned inside out) and others were wearing black cloaks’ one of which had a skeleton design printed on it. On the upper end, a few of the female characters had very nice, victorian-style attire that helped authenticate the time period and increase the realism of their scenes. Dr. Belle and a few of his patients had grungy, bloody and distressed attire for their given characters that also matched their scenes. Others were designed to be hidden in plain sight, such as the talking trophy head, the life-sized creature ‘Jeffrey’ in the same room, the paint-speckled morph suit and the shadow figure. Because of Purgatory’s theme, many of the costumes in that attraction were a bit more random and, even though we’ve seen more elaborate costumes at other attractions, each of them still seemed to fit for their respective scenes. Makeup primarily consisted of greyed-out skin and darkened eyes to create an aged, ‘ghostly’ effect on the characters wearing it, but the applications were done well enough that they didn’t look rushed or out of place. Other characters were sporting wounds or even glow-in-the-dark designs throughout the complex. Several masks were noticed too and, while some of them seemed to work out well, others looked to be a little awkward for the characters and scenes they were found in.
Customer Service: 9.33
If you approach House of Trepidation from the South (Raymond Street), start slowing down once you get ready to drive under the railroad bridge. Your GPS should get you there, but be informed that the entrance is located just North of the tracks and you may miss it if you’re not prepared to make a quick turn’ just look for the hearse and the arrow sign that are sitting out by the road (both of which were un-lit when we visited them). If that’s not good enough, you’ll know you’re at the right place when you see the small ‘House of Trepidation’ sign hanging on the front of the building. There were also dance/party lights bouncing across the warehouse’s facade when we were there, along with the sounds of a Nickelback album for entertainment. The ticket booth is easily noticeable, located just to the right of the ramp that leads into the building, and a photo op and psychic reading booth are available just after you enter. Be sure to say ‘Hi’ to the clown near the photo op and hashtag ‘317haunts’ in your selfies! The folks here are very professional and friendly and, if you get the itch for some ‘House of Trepidation’ swag, t-shirts are available for purchase near the exit of the final attraction (Purgatory).
If you are familiar with the story that can be found on HoT’s website, you will find that Dr. Belle seeked refuge and committed many torturous acts of medical malpractice in a large warehouse. So, when you pull into the parking lot of a large warehouse, the plot begins to make itself evident! The exterior of the attraction provided more of a party-like atmosphere with the dancing, colored lights and Nickelback music filling the air. But the haunt’s hearse near the road, custom sign hanging above the entrance and many spiders lining the roof of the outdoor queue line remind you that you are still at a haunted house. So if you are waiting in line in the outdoor section, be sure to look up! The inside atmosphere is where things dramatically changed. The music was more dim and creepy. Gargoyles, candles, a carriage with skeletons and House of Trepidation’s large facade greeted us, illuminated by green and blue lights. Black signs lined the wall of the queue area with the definition of each haunt’s name on them, which was a unique touch. A swift warning before entering increased our anticipation to enter.
Special Effects: 8.09
Quite a variety of effects were noticed during our visit and consisted of some original pieces along with things that have also been purchased. Sound effects were encountered nearly everywhere and created an ominous feeling in many of the scenes they were heard in. The real screams of patients were overheard and, when combined with the artificial sound effects, made for more of an uneasy trek that often left us wondering why they were screaming the way they were. Some of the scenes were very well-detailed including an attic, trophy room and a bedroom. However, the transition zones consisted of mostly black walls (except in the beginning, where skeletons and wooden, spongy, wood-slatted floors had been added since our last visit). Strategic lighting illuminated carcasses of the dead and one particularly-intense strobe really helped in bringing one of the larger effects to life. A mirror message, CGI portrait, a convulsing bed, more possessed furniture, lab equipment, sparks, an encased experiment, hospital equipment, tight hallways, a lively chandelier and many deceiving and glowing masks are just some of the many effects you may see at House of Trepidation.
Once again this is one of the strongest points of this facility. Each of the attractions are based around one large, central theme, although they all still differ from one another slightly. Not all of the dialogue and costuming matched the time period of the theme, which is said to be in the early 1900’s. The meaning to each attraction’s name was displayed on the walls in the queue area and they read as follows:
Trepidation: A feeling of fear or agitation about something that may happen
Carnage: Large scale killing or maiming, as in war or severe accident
Purgatory: Place or state of suffering inhabited by souls of sinners who are expirating their sins before going to Heaven
Seeing these definitions really helped set the mood for what we were about to experience in each, as well as the explanations we were given before entering all three of them. We really appreciate the theme intros before navigating through, as we feel it helps make the attraction(s) seem more realistic when we know what is going on and we aren’t stuck having to guess what is happening and why.
In House of Trepidation, we were informed that this was Dr. Belle’s house and, although he doesn’t actually have medical training, he was working on illness and what goes on inside the body. Due to his malpractice, some have been lost along the way and some bodies were just ‘misplaced.’ Their souls are all said to be wandering his house. We did notice quite a few skeletons peeking from within the walls so we may have found some of the ‘missing’ bodies that they spoke of!
Crossroads of Carnage is where we got to meet Dr. Belle and see many of his current subjects. A patient warned us that we didn’t want to be there and, after seeing the things this doctor has created, we’re pretty sure she was right! It is said many of his patients entered within these very walls and never walked back out. How many of them will you run into during your visit?
Purgatory contains many of Dr. Belle’s past patients who are stuck there for many years to come and they are very envious of those who get to just wander through. You could tell these souls were not fond of our presence as they evil-y stared at us and stalked us along our way. The theme was introduced to us by a ghostly lady and a TV that showed some disturbing footage in this one!
Fright Effect: 7.35
A variety of fright methods were noticed throughout the facility, but we must say that some of the hiding spots were what were caught us off-guard the most! Some of these spots were under stairs and inside a couch, so they were nearly impossible for our group to predict. Things that we thought appeared to be static quickly sprung to life and let us know that we needed to keep an eye on just about everything. This is also one of those places where you shouldn’t trust the emergency exits, no matter how many other doors you see. Other alarming instances included some well-placed poppers, firm death stares, several stalkers, a run-in with a giant bat, spooky sounds and noises coming from seemingly within the walls, all of which helped in bringing the haunt’s overall story to life! Unfortunately, it had rained very heavily on the night of our visit, so we were unable to experience the live finale of the experience. But, we can tell you it may have some of you fleeing from the exit!
Tickets prices to go through all three attractions are $25.00 for general admission or $35 (also per visitor) for unlimited access through all three. The attractions here were a bit short and our total tour time ended up being around 17 minutes. At the $25.00 ticket price, that brings this to 0.68 minutes of entertainment per dollar spent, which is less than half of the average of 1.5 we calculated from all the haunts we were able to visit last season. The amount of time that it takes each group to go through will vary, but if you basically run through these, it won’t feel like you were in them long at all. We really recommend trying to find a discount before you visit. They offer a nice discount on Groupon and, on the night of our visit, we noticed on Facebook that they had tickets available for only half the general admission price, making them $12.50 which is a much better deal. So, be sure to watch their page or sign up for anything they may offer. You can also save $1.00 off admission just by liking their page on Facebook and ‘checking in’ when you arrive. If you are in a hurry and want to skip the long waits, Fast Track Passes can be purchased on site to all three attractions for $30.00. Tickets to just the House of Trepidation can be purchased for $11.00 and they also offer season passes for $75.00. HoT is also part of the Indy Grimo limousine package, where you can ride in style to four Indianapolis haunts! The owners informed us that they are still working on the attraction and making changes as the season goes on, so it’s hard telling what they may come up with between now and Halloween. There sure were some interesting techniques and good hiding spots throughout our visit so, if you are looking for something a little different with all original characters, see what kind of deals you can find on House of Trepidation! Dr. Belle will be waiting for you, but he may not be necessarily happy to see you!